Making Our Voices Heard (Virtually): Lobby Day 2021
When educators unite and share our stories, lawmakers listen. On Monday, January 18, more than 150 educators from across Washington state came together and meet with our state Senators and Representatives and tell them about our experiences with teaching and learning during a pandemic. Whether we’re educating and servicing students in-person or remotely, we all have unique perspectives that can inform lawmakers this session.
“We know our students need more supports than ever to learn during a pandemic,” said Janie White, vice president of WEA. “This includes physical health supports like nurses, PPE, and cleaning plus social and mental health supports like counselors, social workers, and psychologists. We need to make sure lawmakers know it.”
The members were advocating for the WEA priorities for equitable and just schools, full funding for schools, and safe schools. Many of the conversations with lawmakers revolved around the inequities in our education system—a problem before the pandemic but exacerbated in this time.
“I shared with Rep. Entenman how we are connecting with students remotely despite the challenges for my hands-on classes,” said Dorice Warren, a middle school robotics teacher and member of Kent EA. “She really listened and took to hear what this means for students and how we are keeping them, and us, safe by staying remote for now.”
Throughout the day, members stressed how teaching and learning during the pandemic takes more, not less, funding.
“It’s critical that educators make our voices heard for the needs of our students and schools,” said Jared Kink, WEA board director from the Everett EA. “This is a biennial budget year, and Governor Inslee’s proposed budgets made cuts to vital education programs.”
Throughout the day, members met with individual legislators in zoom meetings, sharing their stories while wearing red in front of a WEA virtual background to show unity.
“On WEA lobby day we got to meet with many of our area’s legislators, including our newly-elected Rep. Tarra Simmons,” noted WEA Olympic WEA-PAC chair Jacob Robinson. “When we met with her we felt valued and knew educators’ voices were being heard.”
The legislative session is set to end on April 25th. Stay up to date by following the OurVoice blog or by texting “OurVoice” to 81411.