Inviting your elected officials to visit your magnet school is a powerful way to inform them about the theme-based programs that are offered in their district, and to show them how important federal, state, and local support is for these programs. It is also an effective way to build relationships with these officials and their staff, as well as establish yourself as an expert and valuable resource.
STEP ONE: Invite your legislators to visit your magnet schools.
- Contact your legislators’ Washington, DC offices to schedule a visit. The contact information for your two U.S. senators and congressional representative may be found at www.senate.gov and house.gov
- Your elected officials calendars fill-up quickly, so call as soon as possible for scheduling purposes. Most congressional offices also require a written invitation before they will consider a scheduling request. To get started, you may use the sample invitation letter that is included with this guide.
- When you call, ask to speak with the office scheduler and clearly state that you would like the legislator to visit your school. You should also invite staff members to attend as well.
Sample Conversation: Hi, my name is [your name] and I’d like to invite Senator/Representative [Last Name] to visit [name of magnet school] during the congressional recess. How can I send a formal invitation to the office and who should I follow-up with afterwards?
- Follow up with the scheduler as necessary and be persistent. It is wise to be flexible and have alternate dates in mind. In addition, you may want to ask for the scheduler’s contact information so that you may follow-up with them directly about a week after your initial contact.
STEP TWO: Plan your legislator’s visit for maximum effect. Make the visit worth their time.
- If you have the time and resources, plan a special event that will bring constituents to your school during your legislator’s visit. Attendees can include school personnel, parents, students, school board members, institutional and business affiliates, and community leaders.
- Make the visit educational. Showcase the programs that are offered by your magnet school. Prepare folders that include marketing materials and information about your magnet program, the number of children it serves, your school demographics, details of community partnerships, and data about student performance. You should provide copies of these folders to your legislator and all attendees.
- Contact the local media to cover the tour/event to ensure the community learns about your school as well as your legislator’s interest. Let the congressional office also know that you will be working on media coverage and a press release. If you would like us to review your materials or to offer MSA staff as spokespeople for a national angle, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
STEP THREE: Prepare a plan and agenda for the school tour.
- Identify who you would like to have participate in the event. This can include the school principal, magnet coordinator, lead teachers, parents, students, or school partners.
- Invite all these people and schedule a brief meeting to review their roles and the details of the tour beforehand.
- Assign a staff person to take photos and notes during the visit. Be sure to share the photos with the congressional member and coordinate with their office to conduct press outreach and share on social media. Be sure to get the member’s social media handles so you can thank them after the visit and tag their account.
- Before they visit, learn about the elected official and their interests, policy views, and committee assignments by visiting their website and social media outlets.
Sample School Tour Agenda
- Once everyone has arrived for the school tour, each participant should introduce themselves to the member of Congress and explain how they are associated with the magnet school.
- Make sure there is a presentation by the principal welcoming the elected official to the school.
- Mention how government support has helped the magnet school, especially if your school or district has received a Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant recently or in the past.
- Lead the legislator on a tour of your facility highlighting the most impressive features of the school.
- Share information and stories that give context to your magnet program’s highlights such as: student enrollment and demographics, the school theme and curricula, school transportation, admissions process, community partnerships, teacher professional development and parent and family involvement.
- Have one or two students join the tour and talk about their experience. They can discuss what they enjoy most about the magnet theme and how it relates to their future goals. You may also consider having them participate in a program demonstration.
- Consider having a teacher present to reinforce how the magnet program has helped students academically and have them share a memorable story about a favorite student.
- Allow time for the elected official to ask questions of the tour host, students, or any other participants. You should also prepare a few questions to ask them about their education interests.
STEP FOUR: Reinforce the event with your legislator.
- Publicize the visit in your school newsletter or other appropriate publications. Send copies to both the legislator’s local and Washington, D.C. offices. Don’t forget to post on social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
- Follow up with the congressional office with any requested materials and offer to be a future resource on issues relating to education and magnet schools.
- Send a thank you letter to your legislator, their staff, and anyone who helped arrange the visit.
- Finally, let us know how the school tour went by filling out this feedback form located at http://bit.ly/1IkKOBi
If you have questions for need advice, email our Legislative and Communications Manager at email@example.com