How to Educate Elected Officials – A Bipartisan Endeavor

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The first thing you need to know is that the overwhelming majority of Congress members, state legislators and local council members have never heard of emotional intelligence learning or, as educators tend to call it, social-emotional learning.

Sadly, local school board members are very rarely up to speed themselves.

Why so? Because their constituents – presumably like you – only rarely know that these programs and practices exist. Mainstream media doesn’t help as it barely covers education matters intelligently, much less follows the progress and successes of EQ learning.

Consequently, almost no one is asking their representatives to support a cause they don’t exists. 

Only 15 state legislatures have adopted EQ or social-emotional learning standards. Even “progressive” California’s state Education Department only recently completed the process of defining standards, with none yet formally adopted by the legislature.

Notably, setting standards doesn’t equal funding implementation; it’s only a step in the process.

The Big EQ’s EQuip Our Kids! campaign has taken on the task of educating the public. Once you as a member of the public get informed, then it’s up to you to educate school board members and relevant funding lawmakers.

CRUCIAL: This is Bi-Partisan 

No matter how you vote, every parent wants to elevate their child’s chance to become her or his best self – their happiest, most productive, most creative and responsible self. 

Parents also want their school – public or private – to provide a loving, safe climate that embraces the absolute best parent-assist programs for developing the healthy attitudes, learning engagement, skills and behaviors they seek to foster at home.

Here are the core ingredients to make this happen among elected officials of every political persuasion:

How To Outreach

Please read all and see below for what to say

 

The easiest thing to do, of course, is email your representatives, which you should do even though it the least effective method. Still, get on record as they count emails on the subject.

The best way to identify and get contact info for your elected representatives – federal, state and local – are these:

  • For Congress:https://democracy.io/#/compose
  • For your state legislators:  https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator
  • School board members need to be targeted. Search for “school board” in (name of your city or town) and go to its website and get contact information for the board members.
  • Not as easy is to send a snail-mail letter, which will count for more. Find addresses at the above links.
  • The next best easy thing to do – along with writing – is call their local offices and talk to a staff person. (Again, see links above for phone numbers. For Federal representatives you can call their DC office or local office.)

Prevent teen suicideAsk if any staff member is in charge of education policy or research. If not, say you are interested in education reform and ask to speak to the most appropriate staff member.

  • The person answering may say, “Well, tell me what your concern is?” Do so… and then let the person decide whether to take down the information or refer you along.
  • After your conversation, mark your calendar to call every month and ask for a progress report. Don’t be shy about this – staffers are trained to be friendly and cooperative.
  • The even more effective next thing to do is walk into your local district or school board office and speak directly to staff members. Bring some downloaded articles about emotional intelligence learning to hand out.
  • The very best thing to do is to schedule a visit to talk to your various government representatives when they are in their home office. Same with reaching out to your school board member or members (many locales don’t elect board members by district – and even if they do, it’s a good idea to talk to as many as possible).

Do this by phone or via walk-in conversation with staff. Your chance of quickly getting an audience will increase in accord with the number of other people who will join you in the request, even if only one of you calls the office with the names.

  • If you are a parent, your chances of rounding up other parents will increase geometrically if you first send them to this website to get up to speed about emotional intelligence learning .
  • A generally good thing to do is go to relevant local public meetings that allow for public comments such as school board meetings – and even city council meetings, community forums sponsored by officials, town-halls and hearings.

What To Say Or Write

Give your name, say you’re a constituent, give your zip code and then say or write something along these lines:

“I want to talk about why we don’t have emotional intelligence learning aka social-emotional learning in the curriculum of all schools. I certainly want it in my child’s school [or in my local schools if you are not a parent]. It’s the best practice out there to elevate schools and give children a chance to be their best selves and successful in life.

“I’d like to hear back from you that you are willing to learn about- and get behind – this movement and create or endorse bills and funding to support it. Here is some material [printed or emailed] that will help you be informed if you aren’t already. You can also go to www.BigEQ.org to learn more.”

(NOTE: For links to share go to Resources.)

*It is always good to point legislators toward specific bills. (See a summary of latest helpful policies and proposed federal legislation.)

*For relevant state legislation, you need to search this out by searching your state legislature website for “social and emotional learning” legislation.

Contact us if you need assistance.


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