As a professional educator and ATPE member, you probably know that the Texas Legislature, U.S. Congress, and other elected officials control most aspects of your profession. You vote, you give to ATPE-PAC, and you keep up with what’s happening at the Capitol by reading Teach the Vote. But is there another way you can play a bigger role in ATPE’s advocacy? Grassroots communication is the secret.
ATPE’s Advocacy Central makes it easy to be a grassroots advocate and hold your elected representatives accountable. Read the overview below to learn about key features of Advocacy Central, or watch this video for a step-by-step tutorial.
What Is Advocacy Central?
Advocacy Central is your one-stop shop for learning about and influencing bills or policies that will affect public education at the state or federal level. With Advocacy Central, you can: Look up and contact your elected officials, keep track of bills and ATPE’s advocacy priorities, search for legislation that has been filed, and more.
Logging in to Advocacy Central
Advocacy Central is an ATPE membership benefit, so you’ll need to log in to your ATPE online account to access it. If you are unable to access your account, call ATPE Membership at (800) 777-2873. Advocacy Central is housed in the advocacy section of our website at atpe.org/advocacy-central.
Participating in Advocacy Campaigns
When you visit Advocacy Central, you’ll see current advocacy campaigns highlighted on the page. These are messaging campaigns related to specific state or federal legislation or policy matters in which you can make a difference with just a few clicks of a mouse. Each campaign allows you to read ATPE’s stance on the issue and send a message to the elected official (or officials) who will be voting on the bill or deciding on the policy.
Aren’t sure what to say? Most campaigns on Advocacy Central include sample email messages, tweets, or phone scripts that ATPE’s lobbyists have already prepared for you. You can use the prewritten messages and scripts, customize them by adding your own remarks, or replace our sample text altogether and use your own language instead.
How Does Using Advocacy Central Make a Difference?
When you use Advocacy Central to send a message, it enables the ATPE lobby team to fine-tune our strategies for dealing with an issue and helps us identify knowledgeable advocates within our membership who might be good resources on that issue in the future. Legislators want to hear from their constituents, and they often keep track of how many calls or messages they receive about a bill, both for and against. Even if you already know how your legislator is likely to vote on a particular bill, it still helps to send those messages because you can bet that someone on the other side of the issue is doing the same thing.
Looking Up and Contacting Elected Officials
What if you want to communicate with your elected official on a topic that is not one of ATPE’s current advocacy campaigns? You can use Advocacy Central to send a message at any time on any topic. From the Advocacy Central home page, scroll down and look for the section that says, “Find Officials.” Select the option for elected officials, enter your ZIP code, then enter your street address, and Advocacy Central will pull up a directory of your elected officials. Check the box next to any official and click the “Compose Message” button to send them a message on any topic. You can also click on an official’s name to find their contact information, biographical data, and a list of their staff.
You can also use Advocacy Central to look up any state or federal bill and read more about it. On the main Advocacy Central page, you’ll see a “Find Legislation” tool. Type a keyword into the search box and you’ll see a list of all bills related to that keyword. Click on any link in the list to read the bill, identify its author and co-sponsors, and see where it is in the legislative process, along with any upcoming hearings that are scheduled on the bill. ATPE will also highlight major bills that relate directly to our legislative priorities and other high-profile legislation. You can find those bills by clicking “View key legislation.”
If you need help accessing Advocacy Central or have general questions about any of the advocacy issues ATPE is working on, please don’t hesitate to call the state office at (800) 777-2873 or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Successful advocacy requires the participation of many ATPE members. ATPE hopes you will use your teacher voice and this valuable member tool to stand up for your profession and your students.