#Rally4Babies: Moving into 21st-Century Advocacy

I was really cranky last week when I wrote “Early Learning: Made in the U.S.A.,” a report on the virtual Rally4Babies.  I pronounced ECE’s Google + Hangout “short on inspiration,” and complained that it was just another round of preaching to the chorus.  I kvetched about battle fatigue, and America’s age-old ambivalence about intervention in the sacred realm of the family. I said that the rally was no Arab Spring.

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I felt a pang of guilt when I read Matthew Melmed’s upbeat blog post, urging us all to “RALLY ON—in capital letters, no less—in the aftermath of the event.   “It’s Working,” he exulted.  The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Tom Harkin—bless his ECE advocate’s heart—had approved funding for several key parts of Obama’s Early Learning Initiative, including $1.6 billion for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grants.  Then, today, some pretty impressive numbers popped up in my inbox, courtesy of Zero to Three’s Policy Center.  Nearly 200,000 messages were sent, via petition, and almost two million Twitter accounts were reached.  The web site of Rally4Babies.org reported a little over 16,000 hits and the You Tube video of the rally, 6,500 views.  Okay, the video number is hardly astronomical—a miniscule fraction of the 7.2 million who have watched “Funny Baby Videos Part 2.”  But credit should be given where it’s due.  And I shouldn’t have spoiled the party.

Advocacy in the 21st century is evolving at the speed of the latest technologies, whose platforms are some of the most potent vehicles for making change.  If the field wants that coveted seat at the table, there’s no turning back.  The House is a horse of a different color, and the funding discussions will be torturous, no doubt.  This is the same body that stripped the farm bill of food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  Nearly 72 percent of participants are families with children.  Congressional cruelty comes in all colors.  Keep tweeting.

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1 comment to #Rally4Babies: Moving into 21st-Century Advocacy

  • Matthew Melmed

    I am delighted that Susan has had a change of heart with regard to the impact of the Rally4Babies. The rally demonstrates that when like-minded organizations and people work together, collectively we can and WILL have real impact on policies which can help infants, toddlers, young children and their families. Is the road ahead an easy one?…we all know the answer to that question. Yet lets indeed RALLY ON! TOGETHER we can and will make this a better nation to be born into and grow!

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