Battleplan against AB 493:
Election, 2020: Half the Senate and all the Assembly seats will be contested in March 2020.
Why So Many Seats in 2020?: The California Legislature consists of a 40 member Senate and an 80 member Assembly. Assembly members are up for election every two years. Senators serve four year terms. Half the Senate is up for election every two years. Candidates initially compete in a primary election in March (beginning 2020) and the top two candidates are on the November ballot. Beginning in 2012, all state legislators are limited to a total of 12 years in office.
Who to Target: While this should be a local decision, the argument can be made for targeting current members of the party that holds the super majority. These are the legislators who have passed and will likely continue to propose laws we oppose. Meeting with them may prove useful for these reasons:
- Do they support Comprehensive Sexual Education? Do they understand the opposition to CSE?
- Have they seen the recommended curricula packages? …the new Health Framework? …the recommended books?
- Recording their statements may provide evidence to educate voters or “prep” a worthy opponent.
- How are they voting on related issues, for example, AB1505 and 1506 (recently set aside) that significantly limit charter schools?
- You will have firsthand experience with a legislator who represents you!
Setting Up a Meeting: Begin by assembling a team of three to seven (just guidelines) people. Most, ideally all, should be constituents. If you have a non-constituent serving as an “expert”, it might be wise to explain why this person is part of the team. Then, set up the meeting:
- Call the local office. Be prepared for a “fend off.” You may have to settle for a meeting with staff. This is not always a bad deal, because staff people are the ones who “prep” the legislator.
- You have another alternative, which is attending a town hall event. The advantages are that you will get to see and hear from the legislator. Also, this can be an excellent opportunity to engage with and inform others. The disadvantage is that unless you have a well-coordinated team, you will not be able to discuss the issue in detail.
- NOTE: If your legislator does not have town hall meetings and/or will not meet with you, keep pressing the issue and documenting these fend offs.
Participating in the Meeting: Arrive early, have a final briefing outside, and go in as a group, then:
- Have a spokesperson begin on a positive note. Have each person give a brief introduction.
- Work for common ground, for example, we all care about the health and safety of all children.
- Be prepared with examples and illustrations of the local curriculum, Framework, and books.
- Ask for the legislator’s position on parent rights, the more controversial aspects of CSE, the proposed modifications in SB673, and other topics of local concern.
- Maintain a calm, reasonable, factual demeanor. You can always explode later, out of ear shot.
Follow Up: First, and foremost, let us know how the meeting went. Consider how to best use the information you obtain to influence the next election. Remember that education is the biggest item in the California State Budget. Education should be the most important issue for most California parents. Legislators should represent the values of parents and citizens.