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When the word lobby arises in conversation, people tend often either to be talking about hotels or the legislature, making the word in one sense a noun and in the other a verb. Lobby is NOT a four-letter, one-day-a-year word By Karen Solheim GAE-Retired President 22 | KNOW • Volume 103 Issue 14 Etymologically, the noun sense of the word precedes the verb with lobby having been derived in the 1530s from a Medieval Latin word meaning “covered walk in a monastery.” The political sense of “those who seek to influence legislation” is a tangential monastic reference over 250 years later to the custom of influence-seekers gathering in large entrance-halls outside legislative chambers. In the legislative sense of the word, lobby is a verb, an action. And one that we all need to take, not just during the 40 days of the General Assembly but throughout the entire year. Yes, attending GAE Lobby Day is a superb course of action to take, and it does make a difference. Yes, contacting your legislators during the 40 days of the General Assembly is a superb course of action, to take, and it does make a difference. But...lobbying needs to happen 365 days a year…all right, maybe a few less days than that, but you get the point. Why? Because lobbying is all about building relationships, and just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither are the give-and-take conversations surrounding communicating with your legislators. How do you feel when people only contact you when they want something? Your legislators will be much more apt to listen to you advocating for what you want to have happen concerning the fate of public education if they view you as an expert beyond just the 40 days of the General Assembly. So how can you build that relationship with your legislators? Think about how you strengthen any relationship. Be an advocate for your profession, not just one day a year but 365 days or so. RETIREMENT 13 1


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