Workshop Seeks to Improve Education Advocacy

Members of the advocacy panel included (left to right) Senator-elect and Juneau Assembly member Jesse Kiehl; AASB Executive Director Norm Wooten; Juneau School Board member Jeff Short; AEYC-SEA Child Nutrition & Community Engagement Coordinator Nikki Love; Dean of UAS English Department Kevin Maier.

By Emily Ferry, AASB STEPS Coordinator

AASB’s Norm Wooten joined Senator-elect Jesse Kiehl, Juneau School Board member Jeff Short, and others at a school advocacy workshop designed to inform parents, students, and community members about the school funding process, how the legislative process works, and how to effectively advocate for public education.

The November workshop, co-hosted by the Association of Alaska School Boards, the Association for the Education of Young Children – Southeast Alaska, thread, and Great Alaska Schools, was held at Northern Lights United Church in Juneau.

High school students who had attended AASB’s Youth Advocacy Workshop last spring brought their peers to the two-hour workshop. The students shared what it was like to testify in front of a legislative committee. Their verdict: slightly intimidating, but totally do-able if you approach it with confidence and a few notes about what you want to say.

The event included a panel discussion on ways to improve grassroots advocacy efforts. Here are some highlights from the discussion:

Is written or spoken testimony more important?

Both are important. Use written testimony to make sure specific details are part of the legislative record. Use your two minutes of oral testimony to share a story that will illuminate your key point and leave an impression with the committee.

There can be a long wait to testify. How can I speed up the process?

Contact your legislator and the committee chair before the hearing and let them know you have a time constraint. Go to your Legislative Information Office (LIO). Often people who have taken the time to show up in person are given a higher priority over those who have called in.

How do I know when to testify?

Keep an eye on the Commentary newsletter, as well as AASB’s weekly Bulletin. has a wealth of information, and you can even get alerts on your phone via The Alaska Legislature app, available at the Apple App Store and Google Play.

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