GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR EFFECTIVE PTA ADVOCACY
• Advocacy: Attempting to cause political action with the intent to gain public support and influence decision makers.
• Lobbying: Advocacy efforts that attempt to influence legislation by “taking your case” directly to public officials.
In the context of PTA, advocacy is supporting and speaking up for children—in schools, in communities, and before government bodies and other organizations that make decisions affecting children.
WHAT PTA ADVOCATES FOR:
• Family Engagement
• Safe and Technologically Advanced Schools
• High Quality Public Education
• Equal Opportunity for all children, regardless of their socioeconomic background
PREPARING TO BECOME AN EFFECTIVE ADVOCATE:
• Know the network:
Become familiar with the roles and responsibilities of elected leaders and the duties of their staff members.
Gather information about the elected official and his or her interests. This is a great way to “break the ice.”
• Know your issue:
Make sure you know what the current situation is with respect to your issue, and be able to back up your request for change (or no change) with strong arguments based on concrete examples.
Make sure you know what legislation has been proposed, including relevant bill numbers, and any significant committee action that has taken place, such as amendments.
• Know yourself:
It is easy to drift over the boundary when you feel strongly about an issue.
Resolve not to be too aggressive, too forward, or too pushy.
Practice your “elevator pitch” multiple times in front of others, and solicit their feedback on your delivery, body language, and persuasive force.
Remember: Doors can be closed to you just as easily as they can be opened.
In Advance of a Legislative Session:
• Meet your Representatives at their district offices.
• Correspond with your legislators.
• Make phone calls to your elected officials.
• Invite your representatives to your school.
• Think of creative legislative campaigns for the parents and students at your school.
• Involve your friends and family members.
• Attend Town Hall and County Delegation meetings.
For more specific pointers, check out How to Make an Impact: Raising Public Awareness and Persuading Elected Officials