|Charles Scott and I standing in front of the US Capitol|
If you are in the PTA, take the opportunity sometime to attend LegCon! It is an experience and training worth having for the rest of your life.National PTA lines up the speaking points for everyone to base their conversations and chats with their legislators. Our two main asking points were Support Bipartisan Gun Safety and Violence Prevention and Invest in Safe and Supportive Schools. One of the bills we were supporting for Gun Safety and Violence was approved by the House on the very same day as our Day on the Hill!
Now to my travel and walking notes! I had a weird flight schedule flying out of Chattanooga on Delta but flying back into Chattanooga on American. I flew in from Atlanta to Reagan National, took the hotel shuttle to Crystal City Gateway Marriott, and checked in. What a beautiful hotel - I had a view of the indoor pool plus there was a huge underground mall connected to the hotel with all kinds of restaurants, subway stop, and other stores. Very cool -- worth visiting just for the entertainment value!
On my first day, I attended several workshops that got my Tennessee PTA friends and me ready to go for Wednesday's Day on the Hill. The workshops were very informative in preparing strategies, in preparing talking points, and in preparing how to pace yourself. Good stuff. And I got to meet PTA members from different states as they paired state delegations with other delegations at different workshops. I met people from Florida, Arizona, Washington state, and much more. And a met a new PTA friend from Tennessee. I love meeting new PTA colleagues!
We decided at our planning session workshop to forego the subway at morning rush hour and pay for taxis out of our pockets. That was a good decision because Wednesday morning was cold and windy!
|Tennessee PTA waiting in line at the Rayburn Office Building|
Once into the Rayburn building, Cheryl, Anita, and Charles went to the first appointment with Rep. Steve Cohen (Memphis) while Betsy, Kim, and I visited several other offices as unannounced visitors. We visited four other offices and came back to Rep. Cohen's office. Our group was still sitting in the foyer waiting room, so we joined them to make one big Tennessee group to visit Rep. Cohen. What a great meeting we had and possible future involvement at the local district office with PTA!
|Tennessee PTA delegation with Rep. Steve Cohen|
Well, we decided to split the group for the rest of the day. This gave one group extra time to cross over to the Senate side and get into Dirksen Senate Office Building. That left Charles Scott and me to visit one more representative and then hoof it over to Dirksen for our next appointment.
We had a great conversation with Rep. Marsha Blackburn. We saw a picture of her when she was young with big beehive hairstyle. That was cool to see. She said she had heard of PTA before so that was good joke to break the ice. Always good to make everyone comfortable.
|Charles and I standing with Rep. Blackburn|
After meeting with Rep. Blackburn, Charles and I started walking over to Dirksen. When we walked in front of the Capitol, we got lucky with our picture as there was no one in the background at all. I took pictures of the Capitol and of course the Library of Congress. I spent many hours in that library when I was college student in D.C. Yep, I had returned back to my old college stomping grounds a few decades older and several pounds heavier! When I was a student here, I visited so many US legislators that I no longer have any idea who they were. Well except, Sen. Richard Lugar - he was larger than life in the early 80s.
|The Library of all Libraries|
We had a short wait to get past security to get into Dirksen. Again, the strategy of conquer and divide was working as the one group was meeting with Sen. Lamar Alexander while Charles and I met with a staff member from Sen. Bob Corker's office. Both groups had really good meetings -- so exciting to the do the work of PTA, that is, advocating for every child with one voice!
|Group One meeting with Sen. Lamar Alexander|
After the National PTA reception in the Dirksen building (where three of Sen. Alexander's staff showed up to mingle with PTAers), I headed back to the hotel to explore Crystal City mall. That is a great place. I had a great meal at King Street Blues, wow, just excellent.
The next day was debriefing. The best speaker of the entire conference spoke that morning - Bradford Fitch from CMG. He gave us great advice and tips to continue the advocacy work we started here and bring it home. After his speech, we sat down with our Arizona PTA friends and planned a strategy of what we were doing when we got back to Tennessee.
After that workshop planning, I caught ride on the hotel shuttle to the airport and flew home to Chattanooga via Charlotte. I had a great PTA learning and advocacy time. I learned a lot, I reminisced about my college days in DC, I met new PTA people, I conversed with US reps and senators. All in all, LegCon was just a great experience!