In the last edition of NAPT News & Views (SBF March issue, pg. 16), NAPT President Lenny Bernstein explained how he planned to link each of the association’s strategic priorities with a specific national monument and assign each priority a “caretaker” in an effort to focus energy, time and other resources.
In this, the first of a series of five articles that will be written by NAPT board members, John Hazelette shares his thoughts about expanding the association’s role in coordinating industry activities in the public policy arena.
One of the fundamental concerns many people have with policymakers and elected officials is that they do not completely understand the impact of decisions they make. “No Child Left Behind” is a classic example.
After discussing this matter during strategic planning in 2003, the NAPT board created an “Industry Communication and Recognition Strategy” with three main objectives:
1. Attempt to organize an industry summit with the three main national organizations that represent the pupil transportation industry, identify common industry issues and map out a process for collaboration in which interests of the three groups intersect in order to increase the ability of the industry to speak with one voice. This has been happening for a little more than 18 months now, and the positive results have been reported by SBF and other industry publications on a regular basis.
2. Work with state associations to create specific plans to educate Congress, federal agencies, state agencies and others about important issues in pupil transportation and improve the coordination among groups in communicating consistent messages on these issues. The first step in this process was to create a formal alliance with interested state associations, and I am pleased to report that there are already more than a dozen state associations that receive information and assistance from NAPT on a regular basis.
3. Develop a “Policymaker Awareness Campaign” to educate policymakers in Congress and state and federal agencies on the issues of pupil transportation and NAPT’s role in addressing these issues. Our goal here is to develop an outline recommending a process for the identification, selection and prioritization of issues of concern and the development of policy statements and supporting arguments for these positions. This outline will include awareness goals and identify the individuals or agencies to be targeted and the means by which they will be targeted. In addition, the outline will include a specific communication plan intended to educate policymakers at all levels.
The Jefferson Memorial was selected as the monument for this project for a few reasons. First, it is a key landmark situated in the heart of our nation’s capital. Built in 1938, the monument stands 91 feet tall and weighs 32,000 tons. Its towering presence looms over the constant ebb and flow of public policy debate on Capitol Hill.
Second, the Jefferson Memorial is a tribute to the enduring principles and ideals set forth by Thomas Jefferson, our third president and co-author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was a true champion of democracy and the rights of men. His works stand today as an enduring legacy to his belief that America was a land of opportunity.
At the NAPT quarterly board meeting held recently in Albany, N.Y., I was assigned the responsibility of “caretaker” for this monument. In the time since, I have thought a great deal about the monument and what it should symbolize to us.
I have secured a commitment from a strong team of advocates who are going to work with me on the NAPT Public Policy Committee to: (1) develop models that can be distributed and used at the state and local level to utilize our strength as grassroots advocates; (2) develop marketing materials that will “sell” the school bus success story; (3) develop position papers; and (4) work with other school transportation advocates to support common and mutually beneficial goals.
In the spirit of Jefferson, a fellow Virginian, who said, “I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever result they led,” the NAPT Public Policy Committee welcomes your ideas and input as we work to become more effective grassroots advocates on behalf of the industry.
John Hazelette is NAPT Region 2 director, chair of the NAPT Public Policy Committee and director of transportation for Norfolk (Va.) Public Schools. He can be reached at [email protected].
The 32nd National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) event will be held Nov. 5-9, 2006, in Kansas City, Mo. The annual meeting is the year’s best opportunity to network with transportation professionals like yourself.
You’ll also have the chance to attend dozens of educational sessions and motivational presentations that will help you improve your knowledge base and sharpen your managerial skills.
The other highlight is the trade show featuring more than 100 exhibitors, including bus chassis and component manufacturers, as well as suppliers of related products and services.
For more information about the NAPT event, call (800) 989-6278 or visit www.napt.org.