ACTE Techniques October 2011 : Page 12

CA p ITOL VIEW Engaging Outside Audiences to Advocate for CTE of being the solo advocate for CTE by encouraging others to participate. Of course, you are wondering, “How can I involve others, and why would they care?” Think of how many people are directly or indirectly involved in CTE. If you are a teacher or an administrator, then you have CTE students, parents, business partners, alumni, colleagues, local poli-cymakers and others in the community who count on a skilled workforce to help the local economy recover and thrive. It is up to you to reach out to these people, explain what CTE is and how it is helping the workforce to thrive in your community. Teachers, parents and administrators often understand the great value that CTE provides and may not need a lot of coaxing. However, other groups like businesses and local policymakers might need a crash course in CTE’s benefits. Schedule a meeting with these groups to explain the types of occupations that CTE prepares students to work in, and how those programs are funded. Always tie CTE back to that stakeholder. If it is a business leader, explain how the workers he or she employs have benefited from CTE classes. If it is a policymaker, discuss return on investments and how CTE keeps the workforce strong in your community. Providing information and tools is the easy part; the difficult part is ensuring that these new allies will follow through and reach out to Capitol Hill. Some may be intimidated by the process, so help them feel at ease by inviting them to meetings with elected officials or town hall meetings. Begin a legislative training session using the tools at the Association for Career and Technical Education’s (ACTE) Legislative Action Center to coach these third-party activists into becoming persuasive CTE spokespeople. Educating outside audiences about CTE and explaining why they should be invested in this issue can help strengthen any advocacy effort. Many voices can have a loud and strong voice. Let’s bring that voice to Capitol Hill and save CTE funding now! Building a Coalition Here are some tips: 1. Reach out to businesses, parents, colleagues, administrators and local policymakers to explain how CTE impacts the community. 2. Hold a legislative training session. Familiarize outside audiences with how to reach out to elected officials, build relationships and advocate for CTE. 3. Collect contact information and keep groups informed; alert them when action is needed. 4. Use the ACTE Legislative Action Center and ACTE staff as resources. 5. Be proactive and positive. Jamie Baxter is ACTE’s advocacy manager. She can be contacted at jbaxter@acteonline.org. You can read more about ACTE’s policy activities and the latest happenings in Washington, D.C., on ACTE’s CTE Policy Watch blog. Check it out today at www. acteonline.org/ctepolicywatchblog.aspx . PHoTo By ISToCk.CoM By Jamie Baxter ADVOCACy IS NOT AN EASy jOB. Sometimes you feel as if you aren’t making a difference. Other times you feel like a broken record, emphasizing the value of career and technical education (CTE) over and over again. Adding a new voice to the advocacy conversation can help. This is why it is important to involve other people to help you carry the message. Third-party activists are crucial to any advocacy efforts; they are able to bring a unique perspective to why CTE is important. However, a lot of these folks are not familiar with the issues facing CTE and may not have a lot of experience contacting Capitol Hill. This is where you come in. You can eliminate the burden 12 Techniques OCTOBER 2011 www.acteonline.org

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