My name is Ethan, and I am a member of FRC team 1718, The Fighting Pi, as well as the Co-Founder of the Michigan Advocacy Conference (MAC). The MAC was started in 2017 to help promote FIRST and STEM importance to elected officials in Lansing. This year, we will be once again hosting this conference. If anyone is interested in attending, all of our information is on our website (linked below). We hope to see you there!
Has the MAC tried contacting any of the Michigan Gubernatorial candidates about their support of FIRST/STEM?
Another avenue might be to try to influence a question in one of the debates. IE:
With governor Snyder’s support STEM based programs like FIRST have grown from 200 to over 500 teams and thrived in Michigan to the point that FIRST brought the World championship to Detroit. What would you do as governor to support STEM interest and growth? Will we see you at the 2019 State & World Championship?
Does MAC plan to address the proposed changes in this years versions of “[House Bill 5576](www.msbo.org/sites/default/files/HB5576 Substitute Draft 1.pdf#page=249)” / “Senate Bill No. 863”? It would seem like expanding the Michigan funding pool to other organizations without increasing the amount in the pool could have a potentially significant negative impact on team growth and sustainability.
While I understand there are limited resources to do these kinds of activities, it would be nice to know where the primary candidates stand currently on FIRST before the primary, since knowing that might help people choose who they want to vote for in the primary (if people weigh such things in their vote). For what it’s worth, I know Lt. Gov Calley calls out FIRST by name fairly prominently on his campaign website, but I’d be curious to know where the other candidates stand.
The purpose of the MAC is not to help citizens in their choice of who to vote for, instead to advocate to officials the important of consistent funding to FIRST and other after-school STEM activities. The MAC also serves to make sure federal funding from the Perkins act and the ESSA Title IV pt. A is allocated to school districts in Michigan. While it is important to understand the views of the candidates, the MAC serves solely to speak to the post-primary candidates and the current senators/ representatives.
After reading Ethan’s reply, I thought about the idea some more and (though he didn’t mention it) I could see how trying to stay non-partisan could be a good motivation for staying out of that arena. Once you start identifying candidates views, you’re just a step away from “endorsing” certain candidates, and then the whole thing devolves into politics, getting away from the original intent of the conference: advocacy.
What would likely be a better option would be to form some an independent group of some sort, unrelated to MAC, if someone wanted to get into that sort of thing.
Not really, my thoughts on it were more or less to encourage candidates to discuss their views either by advocating with local media or direct correspondence with the candidates. I don’t believe that supporting a particular candidate would be appropriate (based on my understanding of the MAC goals). But I don’t frequently see candidates with stated plans for STEAM education on their websites (usually it’s a nebulous load of excrement, sometimes it’s a less nebulous load of excrement). Perhaps the MAC would be willing to act as the group that pesters the candidates into refining a plan and publishing it.
My thoughts almost exactly. The MAC needs to stay as Bi-partisan as possible not just for the students, but it also makes the whole effort more effective. An elected official from the left is less interested in hearing an opinion from the right and vice versa. Therefore, staying Bi-partisan is key to having a large impact.
I agree with Andrew, I think that MAC should be collecting the opinions of Michigan politicians towards FIRST/STEM and making these statements available to concerned voters. I feel that any actions that could be seen as endorsing a candidate, even establishing pro-stem/stem-is-not-a-priority lists, would be entering dangerous territory.
I’m not opposed to getting more information to voters, but saying “Candidate X said they support FIRST and candidate Y did not respond” also reads somewhat close to an endorsement (even if it obviously is not). And that’s the likely result if you ask all candidates the question the way Isaac phrased it. So that’s one more thing to be careful about.
Thank You to team 1718 the Fighting Pi for hosting the Michigan Advocacy Conference. Our team had a fun time and got a lot of valuable knowledge from this event. We are looking forward to attending this conference again in the future.