Many, if not all, of you have specific and personal concerns surrounding the impay of the decisions, or lack thereof, are a result of government (in)action. Our government must hear the voices of those on the frontlines or parents with students within the education system.
Contacting your local Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) is one method to bring your concerns forward. Below is a guide to help with your letter
**Remember that you represent yourself as a parent or individual teacher, not teachers in general**
- Use this simple structure
Introduce yourself. A simple phrase such as “I have spent the last 20 years teaching at Gillis School” creates a mental image that brings you and your point alive.
Establish yourself as a constituent. It is most effective if you are a voter in their constituency so establish yourself as a constituent when writing to your MLA. “I have lived in your constituency for X number of years
Voice your concerns, thoughts or ask your questions.
- Make it personal. Use phrases like
In my experience…
I have seen…
- Be respectful. They are more likely to listen to your point if it is not accompanied by abuse. This is not an opportunity to vent.
- Be concise. It’s best to write about only one issue at a time. HOWEVER, since all of these issues are somewhat connected you can write about more than one issue, but keep each issue to one paragraph. Sometimes less is more.
- Clearly state your point/concern early in the letter. “I am concerned that an August 31 re-entry, the repurposing of Professional Development Days (etc.) will negatively impact our public education system, students, families, local businesses (whatever is most appropriate to your concern).
- Request that a particular action be taken. When writing to a politician, always have a solution to the problem. For example, “I urge you to use the $85.4 million in federal education funding to hire more staff, increase access to teacher and student mental health resources, provide sick time coverage for substitutes, and deliver much higher levels of direct public health support to all schools. This will help ensure that students and teachers are being given the necessary resources and supports in order to improvce students’ learning conditions and teachers’ working conditions.”
- Aim for the public interest. Explain why you think your request will benefit the public as a whole, not simply you and your friends or colleagues.
- Get the facts right. You do not have to have all of the facts (much less recite them all), but the ones you put in your letter must be correct. Do not let the fact that you are not an expert prevent you from voicing your opinion.
- Express yourself naturally. Remember that this is you expressing what is on your mind. You do not have to sound like a professional speech-writer.
- Ask for a reply. The best closing sentence is “I look forward to hearing from you”. As a rule, letters sent via mail will receive a response within 30 days.
- Consider if you should send a copy of the letter to anyone else. If writing to your MLA, consider sending a copy to the Minister of Education, or the Premier.