Advocacy Day 2019: A Recap,
"A very worthwhile day; so glad that I came." "I now feel much more informed on these important issues." "This (substantial equivalency) is a huge issue, more than I realized." "We had a great conversation with our legislator." Such were just a few of the comments following our ACSINY Advocacy Day on March 12th.
Numerous Christian school leaders from across New York came together that Tuesday morning in Albany for fellowship, education, and advocacy. Once again, our gracious and informative host was Jim Cultrara who spends his days engaging lawmakers in Albany and who co-chairs the NYS Coalition for Independent and Religious Schools. The first part of our day was spent gathering updates and insights from Jim on THE issue facing our Christian schools, the substantial equivalency (SE) mandate. The implications and potential ramifications of the updated SE guidance for our state's Christian schools are alarming. Thus, SE was the focus of our conversations with legislators that day.
Jim knows our legislators better than any of our school leaders. It was extremely helpful to get the "inside scoop" on the assembly members and senators prior to our conversations: i.e. "(that) senator is newly elected, very engaging," "she's a moderate democrat, it would be good to get her thoughts on this issue," "he is one of our best friends and though his party doesn't have the influence, he has solid relationships with democratic leaders," etc. After Jim's briefing, leaders set off in teams to engage our legislators. We were pleased to have profitable and extensive conversations with, among others, Assemblyman Benedetto and senior staff from Senator Mayer's office. Both of those lawmakers chair the education committee for their respective houses of the legislature.
Following all conversations with multiple assembly members and senators, our Christian school leaders' reports were generally optimistic. The legislators seemed sympathetic to our concerns, yet there is uncertainty as to how, when, or if a legislative fix may come to the SE issue we are facing. Thus, this issue is certainly far from being settled. Each school leader, whether or not you were in Albany on March 12th, is asked to continue to keep this issue before your respective legislators - send emails, make calls, and stay engaged with voter-voice initiatives.
A special thank you goes out to our friends from American Christian Tours for sponsoring our lunch that day. We ate well, engaged in helpful conversations, connected with new colleagues, and enjoyed a sweet time of fellowship. Thank you, American Christian Tours, for helping make this possible.
Leaders, if you missed this year, I trust you will make it a priority to get involved next year. We who gathered in Albany on March 12th were there for primarily one reason, to see that the mission of Christian education in NYS continues on. We would certainly welcome your help as we link arms for your school, your families, and for the cause of Christ.
Advocacy Day 2018 highlights! See attachment.