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Engaging MASA Members in their Federal Advocacy Priorities Dear MASA Member: The work of MASA’s Federal Advocacy Committee over the years has been tremendous. Did you know that AASA considers MASA to be the leader amongst other states on what to do at the national level when engaging with congressional leaders? And while MASA does the committee thing well, we wanted to give every member the tools you need to engage federally with your congressperson and senators. As you know, funding from the State and Federal governments has dramatically decreased, and with an ongoing recession we are acutely aware that our taxpayers are in no position to support school districts with more funding. Without adequate funding, Minnesota’s educational program suffers. So, what is an administrator to do when a financial crisis is developing and the “traditional” models of funding are not realistic? What do you do when an educational issue is developing that will affect your school district? And what about health, safety or security issues that are inching in to your community, and your schools and classrooms? These of course are the decisions you as a school administrator must make. Let us share what we consider to be the most important tools every successful administrator should use: positive, continuous strategic engagement with your legislators. All of us are educators by virtue of our roles as administrators. We lead school districts and “businesses” that in many cases are the largest employers in our communities. Yet, we must also be leaders legislatively. We encourage you to make it a priority to engage your community and Minnesota’s legislature. Get to know each legislator to share your story and lobby them gently, but most importantly create a relationship with all of these legislators that is integral to your achieving your strategic plan goals. In closing, school administrators must be more than educators and CEOs. We must learn and be a part of the legislative process. We must engage our community and create teams to take on those issues we cannot. Administrators must not only know who our legislators are, we must know them…at the state and federal, legislative, judicial and executive branches as well as the key staff people. These are just some of the tools you as a successful administrator should have. Enclosed you will find several more, from a timeline, to hints on meetings with your congressperson and finally contact information for Minnesota’s federal delegation. Good luck as you begin your summer and start those relationships with congress.

Sincerely, Dr. Mark Bezek Co-Chair Federal Advocacy Committee Superintendent Elk River Schools

Ms. Nan Records Co-Chair Federal Advocacy Committee Director of Special Education Sherburne-N. Wright Special Ed Coop


Advocacy Calendar A YEAR OF PRIORITY ADVOCACY ACTIVITIES “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” - Helen Keller (1880-1968)

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dvocacy is the pursuit of influencing outcomes. A strong advocate works to build solid relationships, which will take time. The following calendar suggest ways to integrate advocacy throughout the school year; thereby cultivating strong, lasting relationships in the development of better public policy. A version of this calendar was

created by the Michigan Association of School Administrators and is being reprinted with their permission.

June •

• •

Legislators know the importance of education to their constituents. Continue to develop and nurture relationships with legislators and key staff over the summer months. Communicate with local community leaders to highlight the bottom-line impact of federal funding on your district. In an election year, consider sponsoring/cosponsoring a candidates’ forum.

September • • •

July • • • •

Share district goals with your legislators. It will help them understand what your plans are, and paint a clear picture of the district’s direction. Meet with your legislator regarding your recently approved district budget.

Provide legislators with board member contact information (notify your lawmakers when officers change).

Watch for updates from the MASA offices on the status of the reauthorization of NCLB. Be prepared to make phone calls to Minnesota’s delegation.

• • •

Invite legislators to opening school events; making sure building leaders introduce them.

In a primary election year, congratulate legislators on their recent win. Ensure legislators are included on your district newsletter mailing lists.

Watch for updates from the MASA offices on the status of the reauthorization of NCLB. Be prepared to make phone calls to Minnesota’s delegation.

Mail a copy of the district calendar highlighting major events and dates. A short personal note should accompany any such mailing. Hot education issues for the 2010-2011 legislative term are now formalizing. Provide your legislator a one-page bullet point fact sheet to help convey your district’s position on these issues. Watch for updates from the MASA offices on the status of the reauthorization of NCLB. Be prepared to make phone calls to Minnesota’s delegation.

October •

With school underway, this is a good time to invite legislators for a visit. They could read to an elementary class, speak to a high school or middle school assembly, present at a career day, etc.

Prior to elections (even number years for legislators) is always a good time for a board meeting visit.

November •

August •

It’s high school football season – invite your legislator to be a guest at a game in your district!

In an election year, congratulate legislators on their recent win. Follow up with a district informational packet mailing, suggesting a future meeting.

Regionally work with your district administrators to have a legislator address a regional meeting.

December •

Send a holiday greeting to legislators and staff.

With colleagues or boards, plan a regional legislative breakfast for February or March.

Let them know about any holiday concerts or other special winter events.

Often a legislator will host an event or town hall meeting to discuss important issues with his/her constituents – please try to attend.


January •

Meet with newly elected lawmakers and offer your assistance on any education policy and appropriations issues. You are a valuable resource of information for a new legislator who is not particularly well acquainted with educational issues. Continue to work on planning a regional legislative breakfast for February or March.

February • •

Hold regional breakfast, planned in a prior month. Do your homework! Become familiar with your legislator’s background (personal history, political issues that are important to them, what committees they serve on…).

March •

March is reading month! Work with your lawmakers to set up a time to read to your students – and don’t forget press opportunities.

April •

Bring civics back to life! Invite your legislator to visit classrooms – this is an excellent opportunity for a brief article in your local paper.

May • •

Send district graduation information to your legislator – who may, in turn, send their congratulations to your graduates. Send in your MASA committee solicitation to keep yourself active in MASA and it’s advocacy of federal initiatives.

Minnesota Congressional Contact Information Senator Amy Klobuchar

http://klobuchar.senate.gov/ 302 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 DC PH: 202-224-3244 Toll Free: 888-224-9043 Fax: 202-228-2186 Moorhead PH: 218-287-2219 Virginia PH: 218-741-9690 Minneapolis PH: 612-727-5220 Rochester PH: 507-288-5321

Senator Al Franken

http://franken.senate.gov/ 320 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 PH: 202-224-5641 Fax: 202-224-0044 St. Paul PH: 651-221-1016 St. Peter PH: 507-931-5813 St. Cloud PH: 320-251-2721 Duluth PH: 218-722-2390 DISTRICT 1

Representative Tim Walz

http://walz.house.gov/ 1722 Longworth House Office Bldg Washington, DC 20515 PH: 202-225-2472 Fax: 202-225-3433 Mankato PH: 507-388-2149 Rochester PH: 507-206-0643 DISTRICT 2

Representative John Kline

http://kline.house.gov 1210 Longworth House Office Bldg Washington, DC 20515 PH: 202-225-2271 Fax: 202-225-2595 Burnsville PH: 952-808-1213 DISTRICT 3

Representative Erik Paulsen http://www.house.gov/paulsen/ 126 Cannon House Office Bldg Washington, DC 20515 PH: 202-225-2871 Fax: 202-225-6351 Eden Prairie PH: 952-405-8510 DISTRICT 4

Representative Betty McCollum

http://mccollum.house.gov 1714 Longworth House Office Bldg Washington, DC 20515 PH: 202-225-6631 Fax: 202-225-1968 St. Paul PH: 651-224-9191

DISTRICT 5

Representative Keith Ellison

http://ellison.house.gov/ 1122 Longworth House Office Bldg Washington, DC 20515 PH: 202-225-4755 Fax: 202-225-4886 Minneapolis PH: 612-522-1212 DISTRICT 6

Representative Michele Bachmann http://bachmann.house.gov/ 107 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 PH: 202-225-2331 Fax: 202-225-6475 Woodbury PH: 651-731-5400 Waite Park PH: 320-253-5931 DISTRICT 7

Representative Collin Peterson http://collinpeterson.house.gov 2211 Rayburn House Office Bldg Washington, DC 20515 PH: 202-225-2165 Fax: 202-225-1593 Detroit Lakes PH: 218- 847-5056 Marshall PH: 507- 537-2299 Red Lake Falls PH: 218-253-4356 DISTRICT 8

Representative James Oberstar http://oberstar.house.gov 2365 Rayburn House Office Bldg Washington, DC 20515 PH: 202-225-6211 Fax: 202-225-0699 Chisholm PH: 218-254-5761 Brainerd PH: 218-828-4400

Further contact information for Minnesota’s Governor’s Office in Washington, DC, and the U.S. Department of Education Contact information can be found on our website at www.mnasa.org under the 2010 Legislative Information.


Visiting With Your Congressperson or Senator

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eeting with a member of Congress or staff is a very effective way to convey a message about a specific legislative issue. Below are some suggestions to consider when planning a visit to a congressional office. These suggestions were created by the Michigan Association of School Administrators and is being reprinted with their permission.

Plan your visit carefully: Be clear about what it is you want to achieve; determine in advance which member or committee staff you need to meet with to achieve your purpose.

Make an appointment: When attempting to meet with a member, contact the Appointment Scheduler. Explain your purpose and who you represent. It is easier for congressional staff to arrange a meeting if they know what you wish to discuss and your relationship to the area or interests represented by the member.

Be prompt and patient: When it is time to meet with a member, be punctual and be patient. It is not uncommon for a legislator to be late, or to have a meeting interrupted, due to a member’s crowded schedule. If interruptions do occur, be flexible. When the opportunity presents itself, continue your meeting with a member’s staff.

Be positive: Always bring your message without being critical of others’ motives or personalities. Bring solutions to the table, not just complaints.

Be prepared:

Be a partner:

Whenever possible, bring to the meeting information and materials supporting your position. Legislators are required to take positions on may different issues. In some instances, a member may lack important details about the pros and cons of a particular matter. It is therefore helpful to share with the member information and examples that demonstrate clearly the impact or benefits associated with a particular issue or piece of legislation.

Never write-off a Congressperson or Senator because of their party affiliation. Look for allies among other organizations to carry a common message.

Be political: Legislators want to represent the best interests of their district or state. Wherever possible, demonstrate the connection between what you are requesting and the interests of the legislator’s constituency. If possible, describe for the member how you or your group can be of assistance to him/her. Where it is appropriate, remember to ask for a commitment.

Be responsive: Be prepared to answer questions or provide additional information, in the event the member expresses interest or asks questions. Follow up the meeting with a thank you letter that outlines the different points covered during the meeting, and send along any additional information and materials requested.

Be committed and stay committed: Remember you are the education expert! You understand the issues. Continue to bring those issues forward to make a difference!

A version of Visiting Your Congressperson was created by the Michigan Association of School Administrators and is being reprinted with their permission.


MASA Summer 2010 Newsletter Insert