You Don't Have to Go to DC to Make a Difference

Quality Schools, Legislation | 04/30/2015

Joy Murphy
Stand for Children Parent Leader

My trip to Washington was a wonderful experience, one that allowed me to attend meetings with other parent leaders and advocates from across Illinois and across our country, meetings where we pushed for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). We were joined by influential leaders and decision makers, including Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Senator Patty Murray, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.


It’s important for Congress to reauthorize ESEA – with some changes – because it is a law that strongly affects education policy in our country. My voice, and the voices of parents like you and me, are critical during the reauthorization process.

This legislation is intended to ensure every child, regardless of race, gender, or ZIP code receives the education they deserve.

We met with our Senator, Mark Kirk, and discussed with him the need to improve ESEA during the reauthorization process. In particular, we want to make sure states and districts act when data show kids are struggling. He listened carefully and told us that he would be in touch with us as the bill progresses. It was a great opportunity to speak directly to our elected representative and empowering to feel that our voice was heard.

Before our meeting with Senator Kirk, we had another positive meeting with a staff member in Senator Dick Durbin’s office. I know that we took a good step forward as the ESEA debate continues.

After our meetings, we spent a few minutes in the Senate gallery, looking down onto the floor where decisions are made that affect millions of people. It was a humbling moment, not simply being there but also at that particular time. As we watched the debate over Loretta Lynch’s nomination to become the first female African American Attorney General, it was impossible not to feel the weight of history – and the recognition that with hard work, dedication and the opportunity provided by a quality education, every child can achieve their own greatness.

Join me and add your voice to the debate! Contact our Senators to tell them to make the ESEA reauthorization about getting our kids the education they deserve! I’m glad to be back home in Chicago, but this bill is why I flew halfway across the country to advocate for our kids. And it’s why now is the time for you to add your voice with mine and contact our Senators to tell them to improve ESEA.

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