Contacting Your Elected Officials
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of contacting your elected officials. Keep in mind that officials want to hear from you because they represent you, and they want to earn your support. They need to know what concerns their constituents and what is going on in their communities. Remember that you have valuable information that can help them determine how best to represent your community.
Finding Your State Legislators
Click here, then enter your zip code and follow the prompts.
Sending an Invitation Letter
Mail an invitation letter to your elected officials 4 weeks in advance of your event to request their visit. Use the Sample Invitation Letter (See "Sample Documents") and feel free to modify it with your own information. Helpful letter-writing tips include:
- Be brief, clear, and specific. Keep your letter to one page.
- State your request within the first few sentences.
- Demonstrate respect and courtesy, even if you are opposed to the policymaker’s views.
- Avoid educational jargon. It can make your message sound confusing, distanced, or elitist.
- Include your address on the letter; the envelope can get lost.
- Have someone else proofread the letter. Grammatical and spelling errors can detract from the message.
- If you have any personal association with policymakers, remind them. Nothing is more effective in getting a policymaker’s attention.
(Excerpted from Tips for Parent Advocacy,
National Art Education Association, October 2003)
Phoning your Elected Official
If you have not received a response from your elected official’s office within one week of sending the invitation, make a call to their office. Helpful tips to remember before calling include:
- Make sure that you are prepared with a few talking points about arts education, the purpose and importance of the official’s visit to your school or district and specifics about your event. [See "Arts Learning Factsheet" in the Support Materials section)
- When you phone an elected official’s office, ask to speak with the aide in charge of education issues.
- Be as brief as possible, understanding that elected officials and their aides are very busy.
- Remind the aide that you sent an invitation and are following up to confirm the official’s attendance.
- If your invitation was not received or got lost in the shuffle, ask if you can email or fax a copy to the aide’s attention. If the aide needs time to check the official’s schedule, ask for a convenient time to call him/her back.
- Follow up with the official’s office at least one week before your event to make sure that he/she has all the details needed.
Suggested Materials to Present to Your Elected Official