STAT’s Top 5 Tips for State-Level Advocacy

1. Know your representative.

2. Understand the roles and responsibilities of each elected official.

    • To communicate effectively with elected officials, understand who is responsible for which issues. For public education, the Texas Legislature is responsible for issues related to school finance, minimum teacher salary schedule, Teacher Retirement System (TRS) programs, your contract rights, overall testing requirements, etc. In general, all curriculum matters, including revision/adoption of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), fall under the purview of the State Board of Education (SBOE).

3. Rely only on information from reputable sources.

    • It’s important to rely and act on information only from trustworthy sources, such as STAT, TEA, your general education association (e.g., ATPE, TCTA, TSTA or Texas AFT) or reliable news outlets, such as The Texas Tribune or your community newspaper. If you can’t directly source a social media post to a reputable organization, please consider it with some skepticism.

4. Cultivate a relationship with your elected officials.

    • Make sure to vote. Elected officials have the ability to see when you last voted.
    • Attend public events, such as coffees, roundtables, public speaking events, etc., and network.
    • If they've impressed you, let them know through a letter or email.
    • If you read an article that reminds you of something they said, send them either a link or a hard copy.
    • Follow them on social media. Repost and retweet their posts and tag them. Promote how proud you are to be represented by them.
    • Go to the source! Contact your elected officials directly with any questions you have, asking them to explain or elaborate. Follow up with a thank-you letter, and post on social media (tagging them) to communicate how helpful they were.
    • During meetings, be considerate of their time, be succinct, polite and specific. Don’t assume they know what you know (very few are former educators). 
    • Always refer back to the best interests of the students, not you the educator.
    • Share a relatable story from your classroom.
    • Always ask! The worst they can do is say no—and if they say no, find out why so you can come back later with a better proposal.
    • Remember that phone calls, emails, letters, and in-person visits are recorded by staffers, so although it might seem no one is listening, they are taking note of the message you impart.

5. Serve as a resource for elected officials

    • Elected officials must make decisions about a wide range of issues and they rely on constituents to guide them! Volunteer to be a resource on science education issues. TEA also routinely seeks nominations for volunteers for various committees. This experience will provide opportunities to meet and interact with many personnel from a variety of TEA departments. To be considered for a TEA Educator Committee, please visit https://www.txetests.com/edc/

STAT’s Top Tips for Local Advocacy

How to Cultivate Relationships with Administrators and School Board Members

It’s important to build relationships with your district administrators and elected officials before approaching them with a problem or issue.

  • Attend school board meetings to learn about the board members’ priorities and perspectives. Communicate your appreciation for their service.  
  • Stay focused on one issue and craft a message clearly stating how students are affected. Be certain to include all relevant data to support your request or concern. If you have a solution that requires funding, include research on cost implementation and possible funding sources.
  • Ensure your message is crafted as professionally and positively and avoid negative comments on issues, especially on social media. 
  • A positive way to showcase your message and garner attention is to secure awards and grant money. If you receive an award from outside of your district (such as a STAT award or CAST scholarship), share the news on social media or via a press release to your communications department. The best way is to sponsor your students as they win awards, create amazing products, or participate in innovative experiences. Follow the lead of the fine arts and athletics departments that have mastered this approach. 
  • Invite the superintendent, school board members, and your State Board of Education (SBOE) representative into your classroom to observe a lesson or to judge an event (let them know they will be given a rubric to follow).
  • Post pictures with a description, such as “Science in Action,” on your school’s and/or district’s social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
  • Create events on the school’s and/or district’s social media and invite elected officials as well as everyone in the community to attend (e.g., Science Night). Post pictures of the superintendent, school board members, SBOE rep and other elected officials participating in an activity at the event, thanking them for their involvement. Ensure you tag them appropriately on social media.

Download STAT's Tips for Advocacy flier.