“They may already be on your side:” Kyle Talkington advocates for the READ Act
Grassroots advocate Kyle Talkington (in the photo below) wasn’t sure what to expect from his representative for the August recess. He and his RESULTS group feel passionately about global education. And they know now is the time to make the case to their lawmaker. “Education has a tremendous impact on the everyday decisions all of us make as well as on the opportunities that open up for us,” said Kyle. “I know that I too often take for granted the educational advantages I had that others around the world crave.” Kyle and his RESULTS group decided to pursue a meeting with Rep. Crockett, who represents their district in Dallas, Texas. Their focus: The READ Act.
The READ Act has a major impact on global education access
The READ Act is a bipartisan reauthorization bill that would both cement and improve the U.S. government’s role in expanding global education access. Funding and supports from the READ Act helped reach 30 million learners in 2022 alone. As Kyle mentioned, access to education determines the opportunities students have throughout their lives. Further education, jobs, health, the health of their own children — these are the factors that can make or break quality of life. Education access impacts all of them. As Kyle and his group knew, action on the READ Act is urgent. If not passed, the legislation expires at the end of September (this week!).
Preparation and connection moved this member of Congress up the champion scale
At first, Kyle and his group were slightly discouraged. Rep. Crockett said she could not meet with them, but an aide could. Then, the aide said she could not manage an in-person discussion. The meeting got switched to a virtual Zoom room. “A couple of days before, we practiced and timed ourselves with a script of our messages and our ask,” said Kyle, describing how he and his group prepared to make the most of the Zoom meeting. “The office seemed to appreciate the preparation,” he added. He said lobby resources from RESULTS and the champion scale helped them frame their READ Act ask. They also did research on the aide and learned about her education and career. Kyle had even corresponded with the aide before, grateful to have maintained this key relationship.
When they were finally in “the room” (virtually), the group made their case for the READ Act. They did not begin with the script, but first engaged the aide (Caitlin) about her own experience. What was her background in education? What are her thoughts on the global need? Connecting with Caitlin through her passion for education, they moved her up the champion scale. By the end of the meeting, Caitlin not only promised to speak to Rep. Crockett about the READ Act but to pursue co-sponsorship! True to her word, Rep. Crockett signed on as a READ Act co-sponsor by the end of the week.
As the clock ticks on the READ Act, connect with your lawmakers and your community
Reflecting on this advocacy win, Kyle said, “I was reminded to always ask the member of Congress or staff what they think of the issue. They might already be on your side!” The same might be true for you! This week, as the clock ticks on the READ Act, connect with your lawmaker about their passion for education. Write that Letter to the Editor appealing to your community to champion this legislation! With each step up the champion scale, we get closer to realizing every child’s right to quality education.