Reframed the political debate over school-based/mobile dentistry in order to defeat the effort to prohibit the practice in the state.
To defeat the opponents of school-based dentistry – including the Louisiana Dental Association (LDA) and their political allies – we had to organize and wage a multi-front battle. Our success hinged on our ability to reframe the political debate and shift the political terrain from exclusively “inside the Capitol” to the larger political world. We needed legislators to know that more people were engaged and impacted by this issue than just the LDA.
We accomplished our task by identifying and organizing stakeholders who had an interest in preserving school-based dentistry and using that broad-based coalition to draw attention to the issue. With our political and policy arguments developed and our coalition in tow, we worked the beat reporters and the editorial staffs of newspapers around the state to drive interest and coverage of the issue. As the newspapers and coalition members weighed in, we continued to work the legislators and the executive branch to ensure that they recognized the newfound political and policy weight of the issue. In sum, we needed to ensure that legislators understood that there was no “free” vote on this issue; their vote mattered because the issue mattered to a constituency larger than the LDA.