First, a special thank you to all the school board members who contacted your legislators and engaged in legislative advocacy during the recently completed 2015-16 legislative session. You make a difference. We need you to keep making a difference.
School board advocates who take the time to follow-up—to demonstrate their ongoing commitment not only to the policy issues at hand, but to building a long-term and genuine relationship with their lawmakers—will have far more success that those who ask once and then never ask again.
If your legislators were particularly attentive to your board’s requests during the recently completed legislative session, take a moment to thank them for their efforts. Public kudos– on social media, through a letter to the editor or at a Board meeting discussion – are appreciated by lawmakers and help to solidify the relationship.
As a board member, think about all the tough decisions you make and how much you appreciate it when a constituent offers thanks. Legislators feel the same way. Close the loop and let them know you’re paying attention to what they do. Describe your request and how your legislator responded – even if your legislator might not have been successful, it still warrants noting the effort and your appreciation for it.
If your effort with your legislators was not successful, think of different ways to frame your rationale or your approach, but don’t give up.
As the school year winds to a close, don’t take a summer vacation from legislative advocacy. Ultimately, it’s your students who stand to benefit from your persistence to maintain good legislative relations.