For this example, we chose to look up legislators in Virginia. This took us to the website for the Virginia General Assembly. From there, we clicked on the tab “Members and Session.” On the Members and Session page, we found “Delegate” and “Senator” tabs. These tabs brought us to PDF documents with each representative’s contact information. Your process may look a little different depending on where you live, but if you follow the link above and click your state, you’ll be well on your way to finding the correct information. Some state sites may ask for your address to help identify the representative that serves your district.
Now that you have access to your legislators’ contact information, what’s next?
That depends on whether you’re writing about the generic need for school choice, or a particular bill. If you’re writing about the generic need, you could write to any of your representatives at any time. If you’re writing about a particular bill, you’ll want to track the bill and see where it is in the legislative process.
If it’s already passed the House and is about to come before the Senate for a vote, now is a good time to write your senator. If it has already passed both the House and the Senate, then you should write to your governor to urge them to sign or veto the bill.
Example 2: You don’t like your child’s curriculum
If your child comes home with inappropriate curriculum material, who should you contact? Your first instinct might be to reach out to your child’s teacher or librarian—but they don’t ultimately make curriculum decisions.
Your State Board of Education regulates these decisions. Start by following this link and clicking on your state.
For this example, we chose to look at Wyoming. Next, you’ll find options for education agencies within the state such as “Higher Education” or “Special Education.” We clicked “State Department of Education.” This led to the Wyoming Department of Education website. The home page contained a link for the Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction that took us to her contact information.
You can also easily find this information by Googling your state board of education. Once on the website, look for a “contact us” menu option to find a directory of officials!
Example 3: Your National School Lunch Program is being misused
Maybe you’re concerned that the national school lunch program in your school is being abused. The inspector general at one Chicago school found that the school lunch program was “ripe for fraud and abuse because of layers of bureaucracy, incentives for high enrollment, and minimal checks and balances.” If you’re concerned about this or a similar problem, who should you contact?
Very few education issues are controlled on a federal level, but the National School Lunch Program is one of these few.
The U.S. Department of Education says, “Federal contribution to elementary and secondary education is about 8 percent, which includes funds not only from the Department of Education but also from other Federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start program and the Department of Agriculture’s School Lunch program.”
Let’s head to the Department of Agriculture website! Under the tab “Programs” and “National School Lunch Program,” you’ll find this helpful map. Even though the National School Lunch Program is federally funded, administration happens on a state level. The map contains contact information for your state’s administrative organization.
We chose Georgia. This gave us contact information for the Georgia “School and Community Nutrition Unit.” That’s where this letter would go!
If none of these issues are the specific ones you want to address, no problem!
You can still find the contact information you need by following the same process we did above. First, research what board or person actually makes the decisions on this issue. (Or ask someone who knows.) Second, Google like crazy until you find that organization or official’s contact information!
And there you have it. Now you’re ready to write to your representatives about the educational issues that concern you!