January 5, 2017
The Educational Theatre Association is launching a member-based three-year advocacy pilot initiative designed to train and empower adult members in state and local advocacy. The EdTA Advocacy Leadership Network (ALN) will select representatives through a competitive application process from ten states in 2017 and add ten more states and representatives in each successive year of the pilot. The ALN will be managed by EdTA Director of Educational Policy James Palmarini. EdTA will cover travel and housing costs for an in-person advocacy training meeting for representatives. Applications are open January 5 through February 3. Members interested in serving as representatives for their chapters are urged to read the ALN application guidelines prior to applying.
The goal, according to Palmarini, is to create an effective and self-sustaining network of EdTA advocates who monitor and share local, district, and state-based arts education policies, legislation, and advocacy successes that can be modeled by others. “With an incoming presidential administration and the passage of a new federal education law it’s more important than ever that our membership actively engage their legislators and other decision makers to ensure that theatre and other arts education is available to every K-12 student,” he said. “The new administration will be putting its own spin on federal education policies that may impact state funding and priorities, and the Every Student Succeeds Act gives broad responsibility to states and districts to determine how and what education is delivered to students. We want to make sure that theatre is part of the conversations regarding curriculum, professional development, funding, staffing, and other critical issues.”
The ALN will convene first-year members at an in-person April meeting at the EdTA National Office and hold monthly webinars to help prepare them on how they can best advocate in their schools, districts, and state houses. The state representatives will also attend the organization’s first National Theatre Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. in July.
“We realize that it’s going to take time to build the ALN into a sustained network that can coordinate in both state and national issues impacting theatre education,” said Palmarini. “That’s why we’re calling it a pilot and adding ten states annually. Each year we hope to learn a little more about what we’re trying to accomplish and how to do it. Ultimately, of course, we’d like to have a representative from every EdTA state chapter. While every school and district has different issues regarding support for their programs, we all agree that we want theatre available to all students. To make that happen, we need to work together. I think our Advocacy Leadership Network can be a step in the right direction.”