Take time to visit your Members of Congress while they're home in your district during scheduled recesses in the spring, around Memorial Day and Independence Day, and from early August until after Labor Day. Legislators are eager to know what their constituents think, so as a constituent from an elected official's own district, you can have a significant impact on a given issue.
Follow these steps to prepare for a successful visit.
Make an Appointment
Visit the Senate.gov and House.gov websites.
Do Your Research
- Call the office, either locally or in Washington, DC to schedule your appointment.If you plan to go with a group, limit your group to 3-5 individuals.
- Call the day before your visit to confirm your appointment.
Visit the Senate.gov and House.gov websites to learn about your legislator before the visit.
Gather Materials for Your Visit
Use talking points from NCTE's Education Policy Platform as an anchor for your discussion.
- Plan one or two points - no more than three - that you want to make.
- Be sure to include your own story of what you know works or is needed on the issue you've chosen.
- Bring 1) your business card and 2) a one-page paper outlining your talking points and 3) any background materials to leave behind.
- See these tips for visiting legislators' offices.
Practice what you are going to say. If you are going in a group, break up your topics amongst each other.
During the Visit
- Smile and engage in conversation. Be confident and relaxed. After all, you are the expert.
- Be prepared that staff may ask you questions that you cannot answer. Be honest and tell them you don't know but that you will be happy to get back to them with the correct answer.
After the Visit
E-mail a thank you note after your visit and include any information you may have offered to provide during your visit.
Your objective is to develop a relationship with your legislator and with the staff responsible for education issues -- a relationship based on your expertise and knowledge of literacy education issues. Ask to be consulted on various issues. Stay in touch.
Note: To request an appointment with your U.S. Representative and Senators, see our tips for Visiting a Legislator in Washington, DC.