No one knows your school community as well as you – the principal. Lawmakers need your knowledge on ideas and laws that help or harm your students, teachers and schools. Keep your legislator informed about the importance of elementary education in Texas, and ensure TEPSA has a voice in at the State Capitol.
You can make a difference by:
- Voting in EVERY election.
- Keeping legislators informed of the issues impacting your school and community.
- Staying up to date on current issues by joining the Legislative Network.
Elected Officials Work for YOU
Principals play a key role in shaping conversations around public education. School Leaders are:
- Community Leaders
- Leaders of schools full of children with parents who vote
- Experts on elementary education
Know who represents you at your home address AND who represents your school community.
Three Ways to Communicate
1. Personal Visits: In Austin and at Home
Before You Go
- Make an appointment to speak to the legislator or staff person who oversees education.
- Prepare talking points using stories about ways laws and pending legislation affect your students and school community.
- Make sure you have business cards.
- Dress professionally.
When You Arrive
- Be confident! You’re an expert on elementary education, a taxpayer, voter, and community leader with parents who vote. Elected officials work for you.
- Silence your cell phone. Give your undivided attention to the conversation.
- Be patient and respectful. Like principals, lawmakers can be called in different directions at once.
- Ask for business cards.
- Be personal and friendly. Introduce yourself: where you live, your school, and the purpose of your visit.
- Meet the front office staff. Ask where they’re from: community, school district, elementary school. Most remember their elementary principal; write it down.
Meeting the Legislator or Staff Member
- Stay on message and be truthful. Offer to follow up to questions you don’t know.
- Listen. It helps us know the thought process behind votes.
- Tell your story using examples from your school and community.
- Ask to take a photo. Lawmakers love positive press.
- Agree to disagree if needed. School leaders are great at disagreeing politely.
- Thank them for their time and invite them to visit your school.
After You Leave
- Tag the lawmaker and post the photo on social media.
- Follow up with clarifying information if necessary.
- Send a thank you note or email with an invitation to visit your school.
- Call TEPSA so we better understand the lawmaker’s thought process behind votes.
- Follow up on actions and votes taken by the lawmaker.
2. Phone Calls and Texts: Your Most Effective Tools Before a Vote
- Follow TEPSA legislative news and alerts for bill information and talking points!
- Make sure you are calling the appropriate person. TEPSA is your source for state-level legislation.
- HB = House Bill = Call your Texas Representative
- SB = Senate Bill = Call your Texas Senator
- Identify yourself as a constituent by your residence and/or school, and ask to speak with the legislator or the staff member focused on education.
- State the bill number (HB = House Bill SB=Senate Bill) and your position – supporting or opposing.
- Explain how the bill will impact your school, students, and community. Use specific examples.
- Thank the listener, and extend an invitation to visit your school.
- If no one is available, leave a detailed message with your phone number.
3. Personal Correspondence
- Personalization is key. Form letters and mass emails are ignored and are often detrimental to your cause.
- Focus on the issue using examples from your school and community.
- Emphasize the reason for your support or opposition.
- Include your name, position, address, phone number and date.
- Do not use school email or letterhead unless contacted by the legislator for your opinion. Speak with your superintendent first.
- Be brief and to the point. Use this format: introduction, bill number if applicable, position on the issue, brief reasoning for your opinion, and closing.
- Be candid and personal in describing the impact of a piece of legislation on your school.
- Be truthful. Include details pertinent to the issue. Do not exaggerate facts.
- Be appreciative. Understand legislators represent a diverse constituency.
- Extend an invitation to visit your school.