Have a focused “message” and stick to it.
- Successful legislative meetings are always narrow in scope.
- collect a few facts, figures and anecdotes that are specific to your state or the local schools, or a few stories as examples to use in your meetings. These could include but aren’t limited to:
- How teaching social studies supports development of critical thinking skills and civic engagement;
- The percentage of high schoolers who leave school without history or civic education classes
- Any statements from business leaders in your area about how the skills taught in social studies prepare students to be good citizens AND good employees
- How teaching social studies in your area could benefit from competitive grants to create a menu of innovative, validated approaches to teaching history and civics for schools to select among.
- How past federal funding has been used to support innovative teaching in your school area; etc.
- Take a look at the NCSS talking points and select the points that you can best support and drive home with personal examples and/or data from your district/state.
- Stick to a few main points of support for your issue and make a specific request for action.
- Plan on a 15 minute meeting and aim to deliver your message during the first 10 minutes of your meeting, right after brief small talk and building rapport.
Bring it home.
- Always connect your issue to your institution or community.
- Legislators value your thoughts as a constituent.
- They rely on local stories and sources for the work they do.
- Don’t forget to mention any independent research data that supports your points!
- Try to establish yourself as a helpful expert on how a particular issue affects the legislator’s constituents – you, your colleagues, students, family members, etc. at home.
Do not characterize your issue in partisan terms.
- Stick to the facts.
- Keep the discussion on policy not politics.
- Be able to play devil's advocate and 'see' the issue and its ramifications from the 'other' perspective, and still be able to find solid points to support your argument.
- Remember you want legislators, regardless of their political affiliation, to support your position.