Legislative News

Know your Legislator

Developing a good relationship with your legislators and their staff is one of the most effective ways to advocate for career and technical education and influence the legislative process. Legislators have to make decisions on a large number of issues. These issues are divided among staff members to follow. They watch the activity surrounding the issue and also responsible for learning about constituent support. Because staffers are not experts on any one issue, they rely on resources to keep them knowledgeable. You must be the person, however, who is proactive and offer to serve as a resource. YOU are the person who is serving on the “front lines” in the classroom, educating your students in the various programs offered through career and technical education. So you are the expert when it comes to how decisions will impact your students, your school, and your community.

Contacting Your Legislator

Public policy is the determination of “who gets what” in public service and, more importantly, “why” and “what difference it makes.” It gives you the opportunity to influence whatever you choose to impact. When getting involved in public policy, there are several important questions to ask.

• What is the issue important?
• What is in it for me?
• What role can I and/or my students play?
• How do I start?

Kansas State Legislator Contact Information

Available Funds

State .5 Weighted Funding
(VE-II Funds)Since the 1992 legislative session, state .5 weighted monies have been available for state approved career and technical programs. These programs have been determined to be “high cost programs”.Carl D. Perkins Federal FundsThese funds are available to Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that have been through the approval process. The Federal legislation outlines specific directions for the use of the funds. A formula, developed at the Federal level, determines each school’s allocation.

Take Action

When thinking about what issues are important, consider the issues you care about most. What gets topic, if brought up in conversation, really gets your heart pumping? What topics make you “get up on your soap box” about? When considering what is in it for you, think about the issue and what kind of impact it will make on the public if it is addressed. There are many roles you and/or your students can play—spokesperson, researcher, etc. Consider developing a policy briefing to make your case.

First, list a policy state identifying the name of the issue, describe the issue or societal concern, and define its impact to society in measurable terms. Secondly, state background information on the issue. List who the leading voices of concern are. Third, identify possible solutions. What is currently being done? What more needs to be done? Who needs to do it? Be sure to include a notes section. Support your perspective with evidence. Site sources, students, research, etc. Create a persuasive presentation using a variety of visual aides. Finally, attend your state legislative day and present your case. Make sure, no matter what happens with your issue, to send a thank you note to your legislator to keep up good relations for future visits. On a final note, remember to keep up regular contact with your legislators so they know who you are and what of issues you represent.
Once you develop a working relationship with your legislator’s office, they are more likely to look to you for answers when issues come up. Successful teachers, are typically good communicators of information. This skill is just as important in and out of the classroom setting. There are many ways to talk with legislators— letters, faxes, telephone calls, personal visits, and e-mail. If you are trying to influence something that is going to happen immediately, then faxed letters and phone calls are probably your best bet. If you need to provide detailed information over a period of time, then a personal visit is more likely to get attention. E-mail typically works best if you worked with a staff member previously.
Whether you write, call, or visit, there are some general guidelines that should be considered. Know your Legislator Where do they stand on issues? How have they voted in the past? What is his/her political philosophy? Identify Yourself Tell them you are a constituent by listing your address, location of your school, and congretional district. Let them know you are a career and technical education teacher and have expertise in the field. Also, make them aware of your membership as a ACTE/ KACTE and KATFACS (do not use acronyms when you are talking) as it increases your credibility.
Be prepared, know your issue—supporting it or not, how it will impact your program/school/community, know and use statistics whenever possible, and be able to provide numbers and anecdotal evidence if requested (do not be afraid to have your students help in advocating for your program). Be specific, state the action in which you want your legislator to take. If they are supportive, hold him/ her to that commitment. Whenever possible, refer to a piece of legislation by it’s number. Other things to consider include: being concise, being constructive, following up, and continuing to develop and strengthen the connection with your legislator.