Tips for Connecting with Your Legislator
1. Your legislators want to hear what you have to say. Legislators want to meet and speak with their constituents. Most people go into politics because they want to make a difference. Contact your legislator with the belief that he or she sincerely wants to hear what you have to say. Your voice and your vote count.
2. Meet with your legislator. It is very easy to set up a time to meet with your legislator. You can call his or her office and tell the legislative aide what day and time you will be visiting the State House. You can call both your state representative and state senator. Your legislator will either meet you him or herself, or have a staff member meet with you. The more notice you are able to give him or her about your visit, the better your chances of meeting with your legislator, instead of one of the staff.
Generally, legislators are in their State House offices Monday through Thursday. You can also set up an appointment to meet with your legislator at his or her district office which will be somewhere in the geographic area he or she represents. Legislators are usually in their district offices on Fridays. (You can find your legislator's name and contact info here: http://www.malegislature.gov/People/FindMyLegislator)
3. Keep it simple. You do not have to go armed with facts and figures. Most legislators just want to meet you and your family. Legislators may have questions about homeschooling, but it has been our experience during group State House visits that their questions usually have more to do with the day-to-day life of homeschoolers, than any deep philosophical discussion about homeschooling.
4. You are your own best advocate. You and your family may be the first homeschooling constituents your legislator has met. He or she may have a preconceived idea as to what homeschoolers are like. Legislators need to see that homeschooling families are just like other families. We only differ in that we have decided on an alternative form of education. Connecting with your legislator can help him or her see homeschoolers as constituents with whom they feel comfortable.
5. See your visit as an educational experience. Visiting your legislator is an empowering experience for both you and your children. It is a learning experience for children to see that they have a voice in representative government. It has been our experience that legislators sincerely enjoy meeting and talking to children. You and your children can prepare for the visit by visiting the Massachusetts General Court website, especially the page on the lawmaking process http://www.malegislature.gov/Engage/HowIdeaBecomesLaw. Younger children might enjoy the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Kids' Zone: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/ciskid/kididx.htm. Relax, and enjoy the time you spend with your legislators.
6. Follow up your visit with a thank you letter. It is always a good idea to personally thank your legislator for taking the time to meet with you and your family. Sending a thank you letter will go a long way in facilitating good feelings about the visit.