A - APPOINTMENT:
Make your appointments with your members of Congress
BEFORE you leave for Washington DC. Even though you can
always walk in and talk to someone, your chances of
seeing the right person (such as the staff person who
handles education) will be much better if you let folks
know you are going to be there. Your purpose in visiting
your representative is to inform him/her about federal
education programs in your district and how federal
programs have been implemented.
B - BUILDINGS: There are a lot of buildings on
both sides of the Capitol. The Metro system is wonderful
and Union Station is very close to the Capitol. The
National Mall with all the Smithsonian museums stretches
out in front of the Capitol toward the Washington
Monument. (p.s. …. The Mall is lot more than a
C - CAPITOL HILL: It really is a HILL. The
Capitol is in the middle between the House and Senate
office buildings. The Supreme Court is right behind the
D - DO’S & DON’TS: Always be polite and
respectful, and don’t talk a lot. State your positions
clearly on what is happening in your district. Don’t
argue. Don’t be rude. Don’t make a big issue out of
something that is dear to the heart of your legislator.
And most important of all…………….DO NOT LOBBY!! THAT IS
NOT YOUR ROLE AT ALL!
E - ELECTION: We are starting a brand new year,
and education issues surfaced during election time. Do
your homework and know what the issues are in your
district so that you can see how possible changes will
affect the students and families in your district.
F - FOLLOW UP: When you get back home, send a
thank you letter to the folks you met with to show your
appreciation. Send a copy to your superintendent and
school board members and maybe something for your local
newspaper. Have a photo taken with your legislator and
send it to your local newspaper when you get home.
G - GOAL: Have goals for what you want to
accomplish in the few days you will be in Washington.
Keep your visits to legislators high on the list to
communicate your district’s goals and concerns for
H - HOMEWORK: Find out as much as you can about
your representatives before you get to DC. What are
their current issues? What is important to these folks
who represent you?
I - INFORMATION: Bring information about your
district—statistics, good news, pictures, and news
stories. You might even want to bring your legislator a
resolution from your Board of Education.
J - JEWEL: Our system of government is a jewel,
and we have the best one in of the world.
K - KEEP IT SIMPLE: Always keep advertising in
mind—make your message easy to understand and easy to
L - LOBBYING: What is lobbying? The term is
defined as attempts to influence legislators about
legislation, promoting projects for future legislation,
and trying to sway legislators toward specific action.
You are NOT a lobbyist! If your salary is paid
even partly from federal funds, you must totally avoid
any semblance of lobbying. Do not talk about money or
changes you think need to be in the laws. Talk about
programs and their effectiveness in your district from
M - MAP: Be sure to have a map so that you know
where you are going. Don’t be confused by the various
office buildings—the Senate is on the north side of the
Capitol and the House is on the south side. Pay
attention to NW and SW as compared to NE and SE on the
street names. There is a reason for them. When in doubt,
N - NCLB: It is time to get rid of the acronym
because everything is focused on ESEA now. The
Elementary and Secondary Education Act should be your
number one topic of conversation because reauthorization
will take place—sooner or later. It will happen. Talk
about how the present law is being implemented in your
district and how students are being supported.
O - ON TIME: If your appointment is at 2:00, give
yourself enough time to get there at least 15 minutes
early. There is no excuse for being late, so you must be
on time! Do not expect a three hour visit. If you are
well prepared, you can get a lot done in 10-30 minutes.
P - PREPARATION: Know what you want to say and
talk about. Come prepared with facts about your district
and how the students in your district are affected by
federal education programs.
Q - QUESTIONS: Ask your legislator questions
about her/his views on certain aspects of education. The
legislator is representing you and/or the families in
R - RELAX: Don’t be nervous, scared, or
intimidated. These folks work for you.
S - SUCCESS STORIES: You can’t beat this one.
Tell your representatives about the good things that are
happening in your schools. Bring evidence of your
success stories – data, charts, photographs. Lawmakers
want to know that what they put in place for you and
your district is making a difference.
T - TOUR: There are many tours to take in our
nation’s capital, but the most important one is the tour
of the Capitol.
U - UNDERSTAND: There is much learning that needs
to take place for you to understand about our government
and how it works. If you are fuzzy on some items, look
them up so that you know what you are talking about.
V - VISION: Be prepared to help your legislator
develop a vision for education in the coming months.
Education issues are NOT at the top of every
legislator’s priority list. Do your part to make sure
that Education is included in everyone’s Vision for the
W - WASHINGTON DC: It’s our nation’s capital, and
sometimes it seems that this city is the center of the
universe. Just think of the history here, and spring
time is when the tulips and cherry blossoms show their
splendor for us. Enjoy your visit to DC!
X - EXIT: Know when to leave, but make sure that
you leave your X with your legislators—your business
card and how to contact you for additional information!
Y - YOU: This visit is not about YOU, so don’t
have your feelings hurt if you meet with a legislative
staffer instead of the member of Congress because that
is most likely who you will meet with. A staffer usually
knows what is going on, and he/she often has a lot of
influence with the legislator. Treat these folks with
respect just as you would the Senator or Representative.
Z - ZOO: Is Washington a zoo? If you think it is,
remember it is your Zoo, so any changes are up to you
and your fellow voters!
See you in Washington DC.