Are you a teacher ready to advocate for change?
I’m sure we can all agree public education is in desperate need of change, which means there’s a huge need for teachers advocating to support education. However, I know teachers are already burdened by unrealistic expectations and never-ending to-do lists.
So, if you desire to be a leader for change, I’ve created this post to help. Follow this advice and template to write a letter to your local legislator inspired by my interview on the Teacher Career Coach Podcast with inspiring mover and shaker Sharon McMahon.
Step 1 for Teachers Advocating for Change: Identify the Appropriate Recipient.
The majority of school funding is done on state and local levels. Therefore, it is imperative to reach out to your state legislator. You can find the email and physical addresses of your elected legislators here.
Step 2: Hone in on Your Target.
While there are many aspects of the education system that certainly need improvement, you need to choose a specific target as you advocate for change. Lawmakers are more willing to take small, incremental steps toward change. So, start with the biggest, most tangible issues first, like school funding.
Step 3: Craft Your Message.
Craft an email template to share with others. Feel free to use the Sharon-inspired template below. Or create your own. Regardless, be sure to include the following:
- Identify yourself as a constituent.
- Clearly state the issue and its impact on the stakeholders. (Teachers, students, the community, etc.)
- Provide data when possible to make a concrete case.
- Ask specifically for what you think should happen.
- Draw a direct line between your ask and the positive results it would create.
- Conclude with a call to action.
- Include your name, address, email address, and phone number.
A few other things to keep in mind:
- Keep it clear and concise. You don’t need to overshare or write too much. (Even though you may want to.)
- Be professional and respectful.
- Rephrase templates in your own words and encourage others to do the same. (It’s best if the letters don’t all sound like a template).
Teachers Advocating for Change: Sharon McMahon Inspired Letter to a Legislator Template.
Dear [TITLE] [NAME],
I am writing to alert you of an education crisis that you may or may not be aware of. Highly qualified teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate.
We know how valuable education is but the way that the current system works is no longer sustainable. Currently, teachers spend an average of $459 each year on school supplies. Additionally, they make an average of 20 percent less than other professionals with the credentials. Nearly one-third of educators work a second job to make ends meet. (Note: Looking to make it more personal? Find specific statistics about your state here.)
The current system of tying teacher raises to property taxes in the district can hinder the potential for well-deserved teacher raises based on the perception of taxpayers. Similarly, rather than being an afterthought, teacher raises need to be at the forefront of school funding.
This needs to change. The only way to retain teachers and attract highly qualified teachers to this industry is by doing two things: Increasing teacher pay and changing the ways schools are funding.
Therefore, please consider changing the ways schools are funded to allow for an increase in teacher pay and educational equity regardless of the location of a school district across the [STATE/COUNTY] of [INSERT STATE/COUNTY].
Furthermore, both teachers and students alike will benefit from these much-needed changes:
- Decoupling local school funding from local property taxes will ensure that students, regardless of uncontrollable factors such as race or socioeconomic status, have equal access to quality education. This will best prepare them as active and responsible members of society.
- County collected property taxes allow for equal distribution of school funding across the county, reducing the impact of income disparities on student education, educational resources, and teacher pay.
- If we equalized the way schools were funded, giving schools in economically disadvantaged areas the same funding as the schools in the more wealthy areas, the best teachers will have a stronger desire to stay in the areas of greatest need.
- Higher teacher pay will incentivize highly qualified teachers to work in areas of greatest need rather than competing for the same jobs in higher-paying districts.
Such funding practices have been successful in Maryland and could greatly benefit the teachers and students in our (insert county here) as well.
The bottom line is that our teachers and students deserve better. If the government continues to ignore this crisis, teachers will continue to flee in record numbers. Optional: I am one of them. Students will continue to suffer the consequences.
Please work to look into these issues. As a [INSERT SPECIFIC ROLE: TEACHER, PARENT] and your constituent, I am counting on you to represent our [STATE/CITY] and its educators and students well.
Thank you for your time and please feel free to contact me if I can provide additional information.
[YOUR FULL NAME]
[YOUR TITLE – IF APPLICABLE]
[YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS]
[YOUR PHONE NUMBER]
Step 4 for Teachers Advocating for Change: Send Your Letter.
This is your chance to take action and stand up for something you believe in.
Step 5: Build Momentum.
When it comes to teachers advocating for change, there is great power in numbers. Therefore, the more teachers who band together asking for change, the more political will there will be behind the issue. Legislators are more likely to act on an issue they know is clearly important to their constituents. So, share the templates with the teachers at your school. Share it with your friends and family. Reach out to your online network by posting the template on social media. Every voice counts.