Hosting Site Visits for Policymakers
You have a superb CTE program. NOW is the time to show it off for your public officials. Your policymakers’ understanding will go a long way with an up-close and personal tour of programs. These are the people who can help you EXPAND and IMPROVE your program by ensuring funding and effective policies. A successful tour needs meticulous planning.
ACTE has developed 10 STEPS to help you conduct a successful legislative tour of your school:
- GET PERMISSION
Before you begin any planning, get permission from school officials. Keep everyone informed.
- DETERMINE GOALS
What type of impression do you want the policymaker to have of your school? What programs do you want to highlight? Brainstorm and select the most important features you want to show off.
- DEVELOP A DRAFT AGENDA
Most importantly, make sure school is in session for the tour. Plan a short and concise introductory presentation about the school and programs the policymaker will see. Following the brief presentation, schedule an organized tour.
- INVITE POLICYMAKERS
Now that you have your agenda, the next step is to invite your targeted policymakers. Fax or mail a brief letter to the policymaker at his or her local office at least six weeks before the scheduled date (you can find contact information for your federal Members of Congress by visiting ACTE’s Legislative Action Center). Briefly introduce yourself, your program, and state the purpose of the letter. Explain why you would like the official to visit your program (to see how an example of a CTE program can work in the community, the importance of supporting such initiatives, etc.). Include specific information about the visit (date, time, location, others who may be invited, whether the media will be invited, what activities are planned for the visit). Public officials have very busy schedules, so you’ll need to be as flexible and accommodating as possible.
- FOLLOW UP WITH THE SCHEDULER
The policymakers’s scheduler should be contacted seven to 10 days after you have mailed the letter. You should keep in mind that you need to be flexible with the date and tour arrangements. You should take every step to accommodate the policymaker. NOTE: Federal legislators will most likely be in their home districts Mondays, Fridays, and on the weekends.
- DETERMINE PRESS ACTIVITIES
Work with the policymaker’s press secretary, if they have one, to determine appropriate press activities. Send a press release to the local media inviting them to attend the tour. In addition to giving the policymaker publicity, it will increase the community’s interest in your program. Be sure to follow up with the media to make sure that they attend since the policymaker will be expecting them! Take plenty of photographs. If you are unable to have the media present during the tour, send the local reporters a follow-up summary and a photograph for their use. (ACTE can help you with your media activities! Please visit the "Targeting the Media" section of ACTE's Advocacy Toolkit.
- CONDUCT THE TOUR
The day has finally arrived! When the policymaker and his or her staff arrive, distribute descriptions of your programs, success stories about students and any other relevant information you feel promotes your program. Make sure that your name, address and phone number are on every document so staff can contact you later. Let the policymaker know the scope of the program: how many people you serve and what impacts the program has on families, the community, local businesses and the local economy. Explain why continued funding for CTE is important to students, jobseekers and businesses in the state or district. Encourage interaction between the policymaker and students. It is helpful for policymakers to make connections with those who benefit from the program and see the changes in people’s lives that good CTE programs make.
- INCLUDE SUPPORTERS
Have a few supporters present, such as parents, students and business partners, to help you make the case.
- MAKE YOUR PITCH
Emphasize how additional resources could benefit students. While you have the policymaker’s undivided attention, make a pitch for support. Ask the lpolicymaker to support your programs through increased funding and effective policies. Remember to be specific if current legislation is pending.
- FOLLOW UP
Congratulations! You conducted a successful tour, but you have another important step to take. Before you do anything else, make sure you:
- Send thank you letters to the policymaker and any staff who attended, reiterating the need for additional funding and more effective policies for your program.
- Include copies of press coverage.
- Include a photo of the policymakers with your students and supporters to remind them how important CTE is to your community.