What does effective advocacy look like?
Personal contact with legislators helps build relationships and
establish lines of communication that ensure the district’s story is
being heard. Whether you choose to contact your representatives by
phone, e-mail or in-person, please keep in mind the following tips to
help you convey your message in the most effective way possible:
- Be brief - Stick to your key points and be
mindful that legislators are often very busy and face a variety of
special interest groups that compete for their time and attention.
- Be respectful - Even if you disagree on a
position, be respectful in your dialogue and stick to the facts.
When appropriate be passionate, not emotional.
- Be clear and specific - Let legislators know
exactly what you want them to do (i.e., vote in favor of a bill,
pass legislation) in a way that requires a “yes” or “no” response.
Ask them how they will vote, follow-up on your conversation, and
hold them accountable.
- Be a reliable source of information - Research
your issue and know the facts so that you can provide information to
legislators and answer their questions. Do not assume that
legislators know specifics about the school district or education
issues in general.
- Be prepared to follow-up with answers to any
questions you may not know on the spot.
- Be honest about your concerns - Paint the real
picture of your situation, even if it is scary. Share the
ramifications of an action/inaction for your community’s schools and
children. Use personal or compelling stories coupled with facts and
- Be timely and persistent - If an issue has a
deadline, such as the passage of the state budget, make sure you
give legislators enough time to respond to the issue. Frequent,
regular reminders about the importance of the issue, particularly
from multiple advocates, can increase the likelihood that
legislators will pay attention to the cause.