Facts About Local Advocacy
Lobbying is essential in influencing decisions
made at the state Capitol. Why is affecting the political climate in
Sacramento so necessary for community college faculty, staff, and students?
Since the late 1970s, in California politics
the phrase "local control" has become little more than an
electioning slogan. The passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 limited the
taxing authority of state and local governments, as was intended. But
Prop 13 also shifted decision-making power for almost all aspects of
California public education from local boards and elected officials
to state legislatorsbecause the Legislature increasingly controls
education funding and policy. This political paradigm shift has created
phenomenal change for Californias system of previously independent
It is imperative that faculty and others committed
to educational quality and educational access get involvedand
stay involvedin the state-level political processes that now dictate
fate for higher education. Effective advocacy begins in your own back
Why it Matters: Guiding Policy and Principles
FACCC is an active advocate on behalf of the
community colleges. Specific FACCC values also support faculty lobbying
efforts, these including:
Academic Policy Development. FACCC believes
that the determination of academic policies and programs is a faculty
responsibility, and that the Legislature should not mandate specific
academic policies and/or requirements not sponsored by faculty. Furthermore,
non-legislative policy making bodies should involve faculty in all decisions
about educational philosophy, goals, and techniques.
Professional Standards and Qualifications.
FACCC is committed to maintaining the highest professional
standards and qualifications for faculty at the California Community
Colleges. FACCC is also committed to the concept of development and
maintenance of high quality standards for administrators.
Funding for Higher Education. FACCC believes
the community colleges should be funded at levels sufficient to assure
broad access to quality education. Community college funding should
be administered in accordance with program-based funding standards.
Financial Aid. FACCC believes that all
academically eligible students with significant financial need should
be provided sufficient grant aid to complete their educational programs.
Educational Equity. FACCC believes that
community college campuses, academic programs, and extracurricular activities
should be open to all individuals, and that increased diversity and
multicultural understanding should be encouraged. Special attention
should be devoted to achieving student equity and improving the success
rate of underrepresented as well as other students.
What You Can Do
The influence of FACCC and like-minded advocacy
organizations depends to a great degree upon the positive personal and
political relationships developed by individuals and groups within a
The point is to involve legislators with, and
inform them about, local community colleges. However you choose to introduce
legislative leaders to the issues affecting the community colleges,
keep in mind that the primary purpose is to establish an informal, reliable
working relationshipso that later, when a "crisis" occurs,
legislators will be much more receptive to your concerns and proposed
Sustained lobbying efforts pressure the Legislature
to address the needs of California Community Colleges students,
faculty, and staff. (Join the FACCC
For effective grassroots advocacy, concerned
individuals must be consistent and persistent in applying the simple
yet powerful principles of political influence.
Legislators often view community college faculty
as local "opinion leaders." This is fortunate, since so many
state leaders are surprisingly misinformed about the community colleges
and their students. In the Capitol corridors, many still view community
college students as teenagers supported by their parents. Some legislators
also believe that community college students are somehow "less
smart" than those attending the universities, and that the quality
of education they receive is lower.
To counter these and other falsehoods, it is
essential that faculty host campus visits to familiarize legislators
with the realities, and the unique challenges, of the community college
system. A successful campus visit increases the likelihood that the
community colleges will become important on your legislators agendas.
Whether taking elected representatives on a campus tour or inviting
them to be guest lecturers, you are lobbying on behalf of all
Identify Your Local Legislators
Dont be embarrassed if you cant recite
the names of your local Assembly and Senate representatives. With recent
redistricting and the advent of term limits, the names and faces have
changedand will continue to change even more rapidly. Identifying
your districts legislators is as easy as opening up the local
telephone book. (Keep in mind that larger or more populous community
college districts often are represented by several different legislators.)
In your local white pages, look for the "State Government Offices"
section of the Government listings. Locate the Assembly and
Senate listings, then note the phone numbers under "District
Offices." When you call, tell the legislators staff person
that you are phoning to find out exactly who your colleges representatives
are. (To assist you, she or he may ask for relevant zip codes and addresses.)
Once youve identified your local legislators, be sure to verify
their current District Office and Sacramento addresses and telephone
numbers, since listings may not be accurate.
Make A PlanAnd Act On It
To develop a specific local action plan, follow
the guidelines below for organizing District Office and On-Campus visits.
Then act on that plan.
Organizing District Office Visits
Meetings in a legislators District Officeas
opposed to Sacramentoare removed from the daily chaos of the Capitol,
and tend to be more personal and more productive.
1. Do your homework. Find out about the
people youre trying to influence. Know your issuesincluding
the specifics of bills and budget items.
2. Establish A Goal Or Purpose. Focus
on a specific purpose for your visit, then plan your agenda accordingly.
Understand your representatives "realm of influence"
and expertise, so you can clearly state just how that legislators
influence can assist you. Be specific.
3. SmallAnd BriefAre Beautiful.
Bring a small, well-briefed group to the meeting. Every faculty member
should have an "assignment"; role play everyones part
in advance. Leave something tangible behind. Offer to become a resource.
Ask how you can help your legislator. Keep in touch.
Organizing On-Campus Visits for Legislators
A legislators first impressions will be
lasting, so make sure that his or her experiences on campus accurately
reflect the realitiesand the unique valueof your college
and your community.
1. Timing Is Important. Visits are best
during the fall legislative recess, at the beginning of the school year,
or in January or February.
2. Be "In Control," And Plan Your
Agenda. Select days and times which offer the most advantageous
overview. Choose several alternatives, then contact the District
Office to arrange a visit. Emphasize the diversity of people as well
as programs. Dramatize the impacts of legislative decisions. Invite
legislators to sit-in on basic skills and ESL classes as well as unique
3. DebriefAnd Follow-Up. Discuss
the visit with other on-campus hosts. If legislators had questions you
could not answer, be sure to follow-up. At minimum, thank them for coming.
For more information, request a free copy of "Lobbying In
Your Own Backyard," which contains step-by-step tips on
lobbying, setting up district office and campus visits, and organizing
letter-writing and phone campaigns. E-mail Communications Director Keri Goulart email@example.com or Director of Government Affairs Jennifer Baker, firstname.lastname@example.org.
FACCC is a nonprofit professional organization
that promotes unity and professionalism among California Community Colleges
facultycounseling faculty, instructional faculty, and library
facultyand advocates on behalf of faculty to encourage policy
makers to provide adequate resources and appropriate laws and regulations
to assure Californians broad access to quality community college education.