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Meeting with Legislators

Know Your Audience

  • Find out what issues the legislators care about and how they represent them

Plan What You'll Say

Practice

  • Practice by responding to the toughest and best questions you guess the legislator will ask.

During Your Meeting with a Legislator

  • Be prepared and be yourself.
  • Keep your “crib sheet” of 2-3 points plus examples and policies nearby.
  • Be positive, honest, and straightforward -- think of the meeting as a good conversation, not a debate.
  • Use personal stories to illustrate your points, and analogies when possible to clarify your points.
  • Speak and listen.
  • Use everyday language; don’t use jargon.
  • See these tips for visits on Capitol Hill.

After a Meeting with a Legislator

  • Don't forget to send a thank you note and include any information you may have offered to provide during your visit -- email is the best way.
  • Ask to be consulted when issues arise and, even if you haven't heard, follow up a few months later just to keep in touch by offering your assistance.

A Few Words about the Legislators and Visiting Legislative Office

  • Legislators and their staff appreciate what you have to say because they know you are an expert and they want to benefit from your expertise. 
  • They are not your enemies and you can’t hope to make change if you treat them as such.
  • Often legislators are in committee meetings or on the floor of Congress and they personally won’t be able to meet with you.
  • Legislative staffers, however, are excellent people to talk to when visiting legislative offices. Part of a staffer’s  job is to meet with constituents and stay informed, and to pass that information directly on to the member of Congress.
  • Both legislators and their staff are looking for simple explanation of an issue they’re working on—a story from home complete with some memorable quotes. 
  • It’s their job to ask tough questions especially when what you present is something they haven’t heard of before. 
  • Their knowledge of education and what happens in classrooms or should happen in classrooms is limited.
  • They sometimes come to an issue with false assumptions which they will give up when you give them proper evidence to the contrary.

 

 

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Please contact Millie Davis or Lori Bianchini, NCTE Communications Division, for assistance with your questions about speaking with the media or with legislators:  public_info@ncte.org; 217-278-3634 (Millie) or 217-278-3644 (Lori).

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