So many states are currently investigating and considering state oversight of homeschooling, I thought it would be beneficial to help you write a letter to your state legislators expressing your opinion about any pending legislation. Letters and e-mails can be very effective in influencing legislators’ views as we just saw happen out in CA.
When we write to legislators we are not just maintaining contact but also keeping the issue you are writing about in front of them.
Writing an Effective Letter
I know many might not even know where to begin or what to say in a letter to your legislator, so here are some ideas and guidelines to follow. Remember these legislators are elected officials who were put in office by you, the voter! They want to hear what you have to say… especially if you are their constituent. I’ve heard that some legislators believe a letter from a constituent represents the view of at least 100 others who just did not take the time to write them and express their position.
Be Brief. Keep your letter to one page. Only discuss one bill or issue per letter.
Start with why you are writing to them. Identify yourself. Use a simple introductory statement, such as “We are a homeschooling family …”
Right after your introduction, share a brief statement of what your concern is. You might ask for their support or help in defeating a bill. For example, “We urge your support for H.R. _____, which is ________.” If you are writing in reference to a specific bill, be sure to include the bill number.
Follow your opening paragraph with a full, but pretty concise explanation of why you support or oppose the particular bill or issue. Have a few strong, very well-thought-out arguments to support or oppose a bill. Whenever possible, use bullet points to outline your arguments…. organized content and white space on a letter makes it easier to read.
Relate it to their voters. Help them understand why your position is important to his or her constituents (and their re-election). Include specific facts about how a bill will impact families.
Remain calm and composed. Do not get emotional. But especially don’t ever use threats, heated language, or sarcasm.
Include your contact information and offer to act as a resource should the legislator or staff have questions or need additional information.
Address your letter correctly and be sure to address the legilsator appropriately.
E-mails can also be an easy and very effective tool for communicating with legislators. The tips above apply to e-mails. Just treat it as seriously as a written letter. And even though you are using email, be sure to provide your snail mail address and zip.
Trish is one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms. She has been married to her best friend, David, for 22 years and they have three sons (ages 19, 17 and 15). Trish is from the coast of North Carolina, but they now live in rural West Tennessee on a 40+ acre farm. She has been homeschooling since 2009 and her homeschool style leans towards a Montessori approach with a heavy emphasis on hands-on learning. Trish’s family is Messianic and they love studying the Scriptures, learning Hebrew and growing in their faith and walk daily. In her spare time, Trish loves to travel, write, work in their garden and can regularly be found trying to learn something new, modeling that learning is indeed a life-long endeavor!