Some Guidelines for Writing to Your MLA
As I’m sure you all know, there are a lot of potential changes on the horizon for us in education. The provincial government has floated the idea of classes restarting on August 31 (a week before Labour Day) and has also suggested the possibility of repurposing some or all our Professional Development and/or Administrative Days into teaching days. You may also have thoughts you’d like to share on the rather abrupt return to school for teachers on June 1st. Or perhaps you heard that recently Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen did a presentation in a webinar entitled Global Policymakers Forum on Home Education where he alluded to increasing resources for homeschooling.
If you would like to voice your opinion on any of these issues, you can email your local Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). Here is a guide that might help.
- Use this simple structure. a. 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. b. 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. c. 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. In this case, “I urge you to leave the 2020-21 start date of classes after Labour Day, leave our PD and Admin days for schools to use in a way that we determine best to meet the needs of our students”
- 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.