Legislative Visits Instructions

Join us in standing up for public schools!
Sign up to get involved or text RAISEMYHAND to 40649

Take Action!

Attendees of the Raise Your Hand Texas Leadership Symposium are expected to visit the Texas Capitol and meet with their statewide elected officials.

This event provides school leaders the opportunity to initiate and grow relationships with decision-makers who shape Texas public education policy and funding as well as to lend their voices to important education issues coming before legislators this session. The goal is for school leaders to become resources to their representatives, and to communicate the successes and challenges Texas students are experiencing in their public schools.

During these visits, you are representing yourself, your school, and your students. You are not officially representing Raise Your Hand Texas.

PLANNING YOUR CAPITOL VISIT

SCHEDULING MEETINGS

All symposium attendees are responsible for scheduling their House legislator appointments. Designated alumni are scheduling meetings with senators and will be in communication with you about those appointments. If you know there are many attendees from the same House district, you may coordinate the scheduling as a group, but you are not required to.

WHEN TO SCHEDULE

We recommend you make contact as soon as possible to schedule your appointments.

HOW TO SCHEDULE

  • Find out who represents your school by entering your campus address here.
  • Call your House member’s office to schedule a meeting.

Call Tips

  • Identify yourself as the principal (or appropriate title) of your campus or district. Say you are going to be in Austin and are taking time to visit the Capitol.
  • Say you are calling to schedule a meeting with the Representative and the best time for you is Tuesday, February 12, between 2 – 3:45 p.m.
    1. The office may or may not ask you how long the meeting should take. Around 15 minutes is an appropriate time frame.
    2. If the Legislator is not available to meet, schedule a meeting with the staffer who covers education for their boss. This person is an important contact for you.
  • If the legislative office cannot promise you a specific time to meet with the legislator or staff, tell them you will stop by between 2 – 3:45 p.m. on February 12 and you are happy to meet with whoever is available.

AFTER YOUR APPOINTMENT IS SCHEDULED

  • Make a note of the appointment time, location, staff person you talked to, and their e-mail address.
  • Inform your superior, superintendent, and governmental relations office (if applicable) about your planned visit and its purpose, and ask for any guidance and/or guardrails on topics of interest to your district.
  • If you must cancel your symposium attendance, be sure to also cancel your Capitol appointments.

PREPARING FOR YOUR MEETINGS

The two main goals for your meetings are to:

  • Initiate a relationship with legislators, so they may get to know your school, its successes, and what goals you are working to achieve.
  • Introduce yourself as a resource to legislators and staff, so they may contact you regarding issues or policy decisions and how they impact your students, your school, and/or your staff.

Achieving Meeting Goals By Telling Your School’s Story

The best way to initiate and build a relationship with your legislators is to tell your story and the story of your school in a compelling, approachable way. Here are some suggestions for crafting your school’s story:

  • Describe who your students are – demographics, statistics, etc.
  • Name specific school successes and challenges
  • Describe how you are:
    1. Raising student achievement
    2. Closing achievement gaps
    3. Innovating for 21st century learning
    4. Personalizing learning to enhance student experiences
    5. Meeting the needs of every student regardless of their challenges
    6. Other strategies or interventions you wish to highlight
  • Share the story of one student, or one group of students, benefiting from change efforts on your campus
  • If you attended the 2015 and/or 2017 Leadership Symposium and have met the legislator previously, build that into your story. Update the legislators on what has changed/improved since your last meeting, what your students have achieved, etc. If your legislator has visited your campus in the last several years, reference the importance of that visit and how you would like to continue to involve the legislator and staff with your campus.

Meeting Tips

Prior To
  • Most legislators are not education experts. They serve on numerous committees and must vote on all statewide issues and the budget. Therefore, make your story simple, approachable, and compelling. Don’t use acronyms or educator speak.
  • If you have visual materials to support your story send those along with your thank you note. Photos, brochures, or other materials can be useful in bringing your campus’ story to life. You may also want to create a one-page snapshot of your campus’ key statistics and data.
During
  • Meeting with a staff member in lieu of an elected official is very common and doesn’t reflect a lower priority for the legislator as much as scheduling conflicts. Legislative staff are well-informed and have great influence in their offices. Treat staffers with respect and prioritize forming relationships with them. These relationships are mutually beneficial and can directly impact public education policy.
  • Invite the legislator and staff to visit your campus during the interim (when the legislature is not in session). Follow up on this with a formal invite after session (most likely for fall 2019).
  • Offer your business card and cell phone number to the legislators and staff.
Following
  • Send a thank you letter or e-mail to the legislator and staff following the meeting, again offering to be a resource for the office regarding education issues and inviting them to visit your campus or meet again in the future.