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.
Making the Appointment
Go to Congress.org, put your zip code into the box under “My Elected Officials” on the left side of the page, and hit “Go.”
Doing Your Research
- Choose the member of Congress you want to visit and click on that person’s name.
- Look under the “Contact Information” bar for the “Main District Office” and, underneath that, for the link to “more district offices.” Click on the link to find the district office nearest you.
- Call that office to schedule your appointment.
- Call the day before your visit to confirm your appointment
Use the Congress.org tool to learn about your legislator before the visit.
Gathering Materials for Your Visit
Use talking points from NCTE's Legislative Platform as an anchor for your discussion.
- Plan one or two points 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 your business card and, perhaps, a one-page outline or summary of your main points and any background materials to leave behind.
During the Visit
- Know that it’s possible that the legislator or staffer will ask your opinion on topics other than those you’ve come to talk about. Do share your expertise and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know but I’ll find out and get back to you.” Then, of course, do get back to the legislator with what you find out.
After the Visit
Don’t forget to send a thank you note after your visit and include any information you may have offered to provide during your visit -- email is the best way.
Your objective should be to begin or to continue 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.
If you make the visit with a delegation, keep the number of people per visit small enough (3-4 people) for easy communication of ideas.