ACTE Congressional Recess Packet
ACTE is pleased to provide this Congressional Recess Packet for CTE advocates to utilize when Members of Congress leave Washington to visit their states and districts. Legislators rely on their constituents' input to guide their work, so take this opportunity to participate in some advocacy activities to raise awareness of CTE with policymakers.
Crafting Your Message
It is important for CTE advocates to know the current issues being debated on Capitol Hill. By familiarizing yourself with these issues, you can craft a message that is timely, relevant and targeted. Use the CTE Policy Watch blog to find out about all of the latest congressional happenings. You can also visit the ACTE Policy Agenda page for more information on federal funding, current legislation and other CTE issues.
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Before you begin any advocacy activity, be sure to do your research and brush up on the current happenings in federal CTE policy. Here are some resources to utilize in your advocacy efforts.
- CTE Policy Watch blog—The blog is updated regularly with the latest CTE policy news.
- Targeting the Media page—A strong media campaign that utilizes newspapers, radio and television can reach a large numbers of people and policymakers with the CTE message.
- Fact sheets and Issue Briefs—ACTE has many publications that highlight CTE’s role in a variety of important policy issues, including dropout recovery, STEM education, career guidance and economic competitiveness.
- CTE Action Center—Direct links to all Members of Congress, along with their contact information, can be found in the CTE Action Center. Click on action alerts for important CTE policy issues and send a message directly to your elected representatives.
- Share Your CTE Story—Personal stories are a vital tool when discussing the impact of federal legislation on students, classrooms and teachers. ACTE will use your story in our efforts to advocate for CTE on Capitol Hill.
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Meeting In Person
The best way to ensure your message gets heard is to schedule a one-on-one meeting with your senators or representative through their local district office. The following are a few tips on making the most out of your meeting.
- Schedule your appointment in advance and be flexible. Call the district office as early as possible and have a few dates and times in mind.
- Do your homework! Craft your message and do the research to support your points. Check out the CTE Policy Watch blog, ACTE's Policy Agenda page and the CTE Action Center to find the information you need.
- Be prompt and provide relevant information. The legislator’s time is limited and you must make a local connection to keep the conversation relevant. No matter the topic of discussion, always bring it back to how the current practices are impacting the community and state, and how policy changes may effect your school and students. For example, if you are meeting with your senator to discuss CTE funding, you might talk about how the local school budget is shrinking and the need for federal funding to support and supplement CTE in your community. Let them know how important federal Perkins funds are to local CTE programs and give examples of how your CTE program has utilized Perkins funds.
- Be armed with research, information and handouts that are specific to your community. Support all of your talking points with recent and accurate information. If possible, speak to your school administration about providing local data and information that could be useful in making your case.
- Listen to what your legislator has to say, and be prepared to answer their questions to the best of your ability. If you do not know the answer to a question, just tell them that you can follow up with that information later.
- Follow up, follow up, follow up! Be sure to get contact information for your Member of Congress and their staff. After the meeting, send a "thank you" note and provide them with any written materials you discussed during the meeting.
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Social Media Advocacy
While traditional advocacy activities, such as face-to-face meetings and phone calls, are effective in promoting CTE with policymakers, it is also important to utilize technology as part of your strategy. ACTE has several social media networks that we use to build and maintain a coalition of CTE advocates. We encourage you to join these outlets to receive and share information about CTE.
Social media is a quick and effective advocacy tool that allows you to connect directly to policymakers. More information on using social media for advocacy is available on our Social Media and Advocacy page. Here are some sample tweets and Facebook posts that you can share with your legislators during this recess.
- .@SenatorReid my #CareerTechEd students need Congress to invest in their education! It's time to increase funding for Perkins CTE!
- .@SpeakeBoehner funding for #CareerTechEd is critical to keeping our economy moving in the right direction! Build our investment in CTE!
- .@MitchMcConnell it is time for Congress to make funding #CareerTechEd a priority!
Sample Facebook Posts:
- Funding for Perkins is critical in preparing youth and adults for 21st century careers. [Senator McConnell] it is time for Congress to make funding career and technical education (CTE) a top priority!
- Federal support for career and technical education (CTE) has already been cut by over $100 million since 2010. [Speaker Boehner] we can't cut our way to a 21st century workforce. Increase Perkins CTE funding and help to make building our investment in CTE a top priority for Congress!
- [Senator Reid] career and technical education (CTE) is vital to educating our nation's current and future workforce. Cuts in Perkins CTE funding hurt high schools, tech centers, community colleges, employers and millions of CTE students nationwide. It is time for Congress to build our investment in CTE!
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Town Hall Meetings
Members of Congress typically host town hall meetings with constituents during congressional recesses. These meetings are generally open to the public and provide constituents with the opportunity to raise concerns, ask questions and openly share their views on policy issues. Here are a few pointers on advocating for CTE at a congressional town hall meeting.
- Find out the date, time and place of the town hall meeting. You can find this information in your local newspaper, on your legislator's website or by calling their district office.
- Do your homework. Your time to speak is very limited, so prepare in advance on the topic you want to discuss. For more information on current CTE policy issues, you can check out our CTE Policy Watch blog or the CTE Action Center.
- Be precise and direct. When it is your turn to speak, step to the microphone and state your name and hometown. Then ask your question or state your position clearly. When asking a question, try to be as specific as possible. For example: “Federal funding to support career and technical education has been flat or in decline for years. What do you plan to do to help increase resources for education and workforce training programs in our community?”
- Be polite and follow up. Even if the Member of Congress does not support your position, thank them for their time and follow up with a staff member after the meeting. A town hall meeting can be a good first step in building a relationship with your legislator.
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A great way to showcase the value of CTE is by inviting your Members of Congress to see your program. Providing policymakers with the opportunity to get an up-close look at CTE in action can help to drive their perspective on CTE policy issues. Here are a few pointers to ensure a successful school visit.
- Get permission. Before you begin any planning, get permission from your school administration. Be sure to keep students and parents informed throughout the process as well.
- Determine goals and set an agenda. Determine before the visit what you want to accomplish. Be realistic with your goals and make sure your agenda helps to further those goals.
- Invite your Member of Congress. Send an invitation via email or fax to your Member of Congress. For advanced scheduling, it is best to contact their Washington, DC office. If possible, be flexible with the date and time. If you do not receive a response within a week, call the office to follow up.
- Invite media. Work with the legislator's press staff, as well as your institution or district administration to put together a formal press release to the media. If you need pointers on putting together a release, please see ACTE’s Targeting the Media page.
- Conduct the tour. Stick to your agenda and make sure that staff and students are aware of the visit. When possible, initiate conversations with the Member of Congress to ensure that your issues are communicated and understood.
- Follow up. After the visit, follow up with your legislator and their staff to continue building a relationship. Send a "thank you" note and include any press coverage about the visit.
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Policy and Advocacy
House/Senate CTE Caucus
In 2007, former Reps. Brian Baird (D-WA) and Phil English (R-PA) launched the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. Today, the House caucus is chaired by Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), and serves as a promotion vehicle for legislation, ideas and information related to CTE.
Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) serve as co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus to bring attention in the U.S. Senate to improving and strengthening access to CTE.
One of ACTE's most effective advocacy tools is you! Becoming an advocate is one of the most important actions you can take to secure the future of CTE. ACTE has developed a wide variety of tools to assist you in your advocacy activities, keep you informed and promote ongoing support for CTE. The tools here provide step-by-step directions and examples that will help you reach out to policymakers at the local, state and federal levels, as well as your community and the media. From your Members of Congress to your local mayor, these individuals all make decisions that directly or indirectly impact CTE. With your help, we can ensure the strength and future of CTE!
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