School Choice in PA : Steps Necessary 12 Steps for a School to Promote Passage of School Choice
- If you can only be involved minimally, please at least get your school staff and parents to go to the Voter Action Center and email their PA Senator, House Representative, and Governor to support School Choice. www.ReachAheadPA.org. This is a basic step that we need every school to do, to even give school choice a chance in PA. In addition deliver this in some form to allow people who want to do something to be able to take action in this matter. Although we are all busy, this is very important.
- The Head of School or Board Chair (or both) need to become educated (Reading acsipa emails and visiting www.acsipa.org website) and should write a personal letter to the state senator and representative of the district in which the school resides. In the letter ask him or her to vote for School Choice; communicate how many families, employees and board members are represented by the school, and set forth why he should support the concept. (See talking points and sample letters on ACSIPA.org site) Advanced Step: Contact Senators and Reps in each district that your school has students that attend. Contribute some time to the bigger process by volunteering to help in some way.
- The Head of School or Board Chair (or both) should call the office of both legislators and seek an appointment to share their concerns, and/or present the letter in person to the legislator or top staff. Try to use the occasion to begin a more vital relationship with the office staff and legislator. Offer to provide information, if needed by his or her office, share something about the good work the school is doing for the community, etc… and show appropriate appreciation for the public service of the legislator. Offer to put the office on your mailing list to keep them posted on school events. Invite them to some events and recognize them. Even if they are opposed, develop the relationship. Don’t close the door. Advanced Step: Contact the other district legislators. Continue to keep in touch with the legislator. Supporting him if he is positive, answering his questions if he is negative. Remember, many of them don’t have time to get to know the other side, you will be the best one to inform them.
- The Head of school along with each board member and teacher should write a letter to the legislators who represent them where they reside. Again, when possible direct contact would be best by speaking personally to the legislator. (Other enthusiastic parents or constituents could also be encouraged to visit).
- Communicate Regularly to the Entire School community (one time only is insufficient) and present the opportunity to become involved in passing historic legislation that will forever change education in Pennsylvania. If you cannot call a meeting, piggy back on an existing meeting and tell parents about the bill and the opportunity to help pass the bill. Keep this information coming to them in weekly notes and web and email communication tools. Ask for those who would like to help to identify themselves in some way. Train them. Encourage them to act. ) Advanced Step: Create a group of people who will respond to articles in the paper, editors to the editor. Help them catch the vision that this is our hour in the news. Seize this day. We have all been asking and praying for this day to come. It is here! Don’t let it pass without engagement. Sample Slide Presentations are available, handouts, and many resources.
- The school should locate 1-3 parents, who want their children to come to the school and cannot (because of money), and have them contact their legislator. Our friends need this ammunition in the Capitol, and our opponents need challenged by personal stories. This will probably involve coaching and helping from the staff at the school.
- Select 3-4 parents to visit their legislators’ offices to urge them to vote for School Choice. These should be articulate parents who can make a reasonably good case. This is particularly important to those that are opposing or on the fence. ( It is estimated that 5 visits and 10 letters can change a legislator’s mind)
- Select 10 parents from the school to write both the senator and the representative in the district of the school and the district where their home is located (if they are different). These should be genuinely personal letters. The school should select them; provide the materials, and contact info, and even talking points that they can put in their letters. See support at www.acsipa.org.
- Ask each parent and prospective parent in the school to email, write or call the appropriate legislators and urge them to vote for School Choice. Long discussions of rationale are not as valuable at this level. Just get all parents to register their support for the legislation. Equip them to write and/or contact the legislators surrounding the school attendance area. Use Sample letters, contact info for legislators and email service set up ACSIPA . Advanced Step: Give them additional tools to create their own individual emails and letters which will count significantly more in addition to doing the bulk emails.
- Ask each Parent to ask two additional persons from their family or neighborhood to call, email or write both the Senator and Representative. Again ask these folks to register their strong support for the bill. They can use the button at www.reachaheadpa.org .
- Plan to send Students, Staff and Families to Harrisburg in some way: There are regular events and opportunities to attend in Harrisburg to support private education. As we look ahead, being there is important. This is also great opportunity for a living civics class! Advanced Step: Help other schools and people to get there. There is some funding for those far away with communities that transportation would be prohibitive. a. May EITC Birthday celebration event will be a major focus and the one event where we encourage a strong showing at the state capitol. This event will not only demonstrate outward support for the EITC program but the likelihood of support on behalf of Broader School choice. We would ask for schools leaders, parents, and accompanying students to note this date on the calendar and to consider this activity as a priority to attend, if at all possible. Additional events in Harrisburg will be communicated as well and for each of us to consider how we can accommodate our attendance as our schedules permit.b. If the EITC Rally is not doable, try to attend or host a local event.c. Come on an individual day that the Legislature is in session to visit the Capitol, hook up with your legislator and become a part of the process.
- Pray individually and in concert of prayer - for God to move hearts and minds. Include your local community, churches, and press in any way you can for this event. Send creative ideas to us to pass around!
Adapted by ACSIPA in collaboration with: Jim Petty: Children’s Jubilee Fund and Philadelphia Association of Christian Schools.