Policy Ambassadors: Building Relationships is Key to Success

Our legislators are expected to be experts in just about anything you can think of. They are responsible for voting on bills that affect areas ranging from education to wildlife to transportation, among other things. However, no person could be an expert in as many items as we would like our representatives to be. As educators, we must reach out to our legislators and provide them with expert insight into our careers, mainly since many of our legislators may not be education experts.

Legislators may not turn to us immediately just because we reached out once. We need to begin by building relationships with them so they can trust us to provide the insight they need better to understand the impact of proposed bills on education. The success of our advocacy work is hugely impacted by the relationships we build with our representatives.

To build these relationships, you must put in time and effort to reach out to your targeted legislators throughout the year. You can call, text, email, or even visit them to continue the relationship-building process, even when the legislature is not in session. As you build that relationship and demonstrate that you are an expert in your field, you slowly become an indispensable resource to that legislator, significantly impacting the outcomes of bills that get passed.

Thankfully, UEA has built many relationships over time and frequently relies on them to impact the fate of a bill. But that is not enough. Legislators need to hear from the educators who are in classrooms every day and working with students, so they can understand the real struggles and challenges we face daily. UEA’s voice is strong, but it is even stronger when more voices are at the table.

Suppose you are nervous about reaching out or do not know how to. In that case, I highly recommend attending an Educator Day on the Hill or even becoming a UEA Policy Ambassador so that you can learn how to approach and talk to your representatives from the experts at UEA.

Brian Barnum

Granite Education Association