When you have a terrific CTE program, now is the time to show it off to 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 nine steps to help you conduct a successful legislative tour of your school or business:
- GET PERMISSION
Before you begin any planning, get permission from necessary officials. Keep everyone informed. In-person events may be subject to additional requirements or restrictions based on the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow all local and state health regulations.
- DETERMINE GOALS
What type of impression do you want the policymaker to have of your site? 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, if you are giving a tour of a school, make sure it is in session for the tour. Plan a short and concise introductory presentation about the school or business and the related 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. Many Members of Congress have an online form you can complete to request an appearance at your site visit by your chosen policymaker, typically under a heading titled “request an appearance.” State and local officials may be easiest to invite via email or phone calls. Send a brief letter or email to the policymaker at his or her local office at least six weeks before the scheduled date (you can find contact information for your Members of Congress by visiting ACTE’s 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 (proposed 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. 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 to determine appropriate press activities. Send a press release to the local media inviting them to attend the tour. Tag members of the media on social media to invite them to your 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. 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 policymaker 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.
- If you are active on social media, post photos and a recap of the visit. You can also tag the policymakers in your social media posts to thank them.
- 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.
- GET PERMISSION