Be an Advocate for Your District—Politics is Everybody’s Business!

Are you aware that nearly 80 percent of education funding comes through the state via the legislative process? Or that every year there are numerous bills in the Legislature that prescribe, prohibit, encourage or discourage matters that affect schools? These two facts make it important for school board members to make every effort to affect the legislative process for the benefit of their districts and education in general.

Getting involved in the legislative process and reaching out to legislators can sometimes seem intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be. Remember—your Senators and Representatives work for you, so they and their office staff are there to listen and be of assistance when possible.

With so many education issues on their plates, it’s imperative that they hear the facts from you. To that end, it’s helpful to build an ongoing relationship with your legislators. Following up on occasion with a call or email will help to keep them aware of the impact a bill/issue could have on their community and constituents.

If you ever have an opportunity to meet with your legislator or their staff on an issue, here are a few tips for ensuring that meeting is as successful as possible:

  • Be sure to prepare—know the bill or issue that is of concern to you/your district and provide examples of its positive and/or negative effect on your community.
  • A good way to start the meeting is by sharing your appreciation for an issue your legislator supported that you believe had a positive impact on your community. It is not often that they hear “thank you,” so it will make your interaction memorable.
  • Keep it short and sweet, limiting any additional “small talk” so you can maximize the time you have remaining to discuss the bill/issue.
  • Briefly identify your concern and share its impact on your school district and community, including the reasons for making changes and the factual information you have prepared to justify your position.
  • Maintain a calm and reasonable attitude; allow your legislator to express doubts, questions or opinions without interruption.
  • Address his/her concerns with any alternatives you have developed and/or continue emphasizing your position’s well-prepared reasons for change.

Questions or in need of guidance? MASB’s Government Relations team is available to assist you. Simply contact them with your request at or 517.327.5900. Also, MASB’s e-Vocate system is a great tool to keep track of the status of a bill or issue, and to respond to current legislative alerts.

Make Your Voice Heard

An opportunity to get involved is coming up soon—join your peers for the annual MASA/MASB Legislative Conference on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, at the Lansing Center.

The conference will include speakers from the Legislature and Safe Roads Yes campaign, as well as your MASB and MASA Government Relations teams. You’ll be provided with the latest on pertinent education issues in preparation for a meeting with your Senator and/or Representative.  

Register on the MASB website and be sure to make appointments with your legislators in advance—find your elected officials here.

We hope to see you on March 3!