Personal Visits

The most effective way to advocate for public schools is in face-to-face visits. One poll shows that the top two influences on how a legislator votes are communication from constituents (particularly face-to-face contact and insightful, thoughtful letters) and opinions expressed in the local media (such as letters to the editor, opinion editorials, and articles).

Most lawmakers have offices in their districts and keep regular office hours during which they are available to their constituents. In addition, legislators have offices in Austin; however, predicting a legislator’s availability is difficult when the Legislature is in session. Nevertheless, if legislators know their constituents have traveled to the Capitol, frequently they will come off the floor of the Legislature, leave a committee hearing, or find another way to meet with them.

When you come to Austin, remember to visit both your senator and your representative. To maximize the effect of the visit:

  • Tell legislators if you are a constituent and/or voted for them. Tell them if you have any family, social, business, or political ties to them.
  • Let legislators know if you represent the board of trustees or if you are working with others on the issue being discussed.
  • Be clear about what action you want legislators to take. Identify the bill by name and number.
  • Be firm in discussing the issue with legislators, but don’t try to force them into changing positions or committing themselves if they obviously don’t want to.
  • Always be courteous. If you lose your temper when disagreeing, legislators may feel justified in branding you a crackpot and may disregard everything you say. Do not alienate them. You may need their help on other issues later.
  • Always accept the opportunity to meet with a legislative staff member if a legislator is unavailable. Legislators are not always as accessible as their legislative staff members are during the legislative session. If a legislator is unable to meet with you, take the opportunity to voice your opinion with the legislative staff member who handles education issues. Staff members communicate frequently with the legislator and usually relay the message(s) to the legislator as soon as that legislator is available.
  • Thank legislators for meeting with you and thank them again if they helped you with your issue or voted as you recommended.