Work together as a board to build relationships with legislators
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Although you can work individually with legislators, the best chance of accomplishing your goals is to work with your fellow board members to establish district priorities and advocate for them together. The entire board may not agree completely on every issue, but you will build more credibility and be more effective if you speak with one voice rather than at cross-purposes. Involving others from your district or community also adds to your message’s strength.
Specific knowledge about your district is essential. The information you provide must be:
Understandable — Your legislator probably does not have the same background in education that you do.
Accurate — It's OK not to know the answer to a question. Simply say you will find out and always follow through. Don't be afraid to turn to district staff for help if you don't know the answers. If you inadvertently offer erroneous information, always contact your legislator and explain the mistake as quickly as possible.
Persuasive — Always break your proposals down to how they will positively affect children in the classroom. The bottom line is that legislators need to be convinced that your issues matter.
The goal is to build credibility with your legislators so that they come looking for you when they need information. Offer legislators your address and phone numbers – business cards do nicely. Often when legislators need information, time is of the essence.
Always thank legislators for their time and express interest in keeping in touch, even if they disagree with your position this time.