Navigating Illinois PTA’s New Advocacy Tools

Source: One Voice Illinois

You may not think of yourself as an advocate, but if you’ve ever spoken to your child’s teacher about a problem your child was having, if your PTA has ever brought a concern to your school’s principal, if you’ve ever spoken up at a school board meeting, you are an advocate.

Illinois PTA has new advocacy tools to make being an advocate for your child to state and federal legislators easier than ever. You can find these new tools under the Take Action item on the Advocacy page of the Illinois PTA website. Here’s a tour of the four tools, powered by Voter Voice.

Actions

The Actions tool is the home for advocacy campaigns, legislative blog posts, voting scorecards, and other advocacy information. At early points in legislature sessions, many bills before the Illinois legislature are shell bills—bills that have no rules or laws specified that are simply placeholders for future legislation. Once the legislature puts actual language into these bills, we make an assessment of the bill based on our platform, continuing positions, or resolutions. Depending on the point in the session, we may have one or two advocacy campaigns active at a time. Once an advocacy campaign begins, an alert will be sent to everyone on our email list. You can expect to see an advocacy campaign in the coming weeks. When you click on a campaign, you will have information on the issue, Illinois PTA’s position, and a ready-to-go letter or e-mail that you can modify and send to your legislators.

Blog posts provide information on various legislative issues and successes. The legislative scorecard debuted this weekend, and provides you with information on how Illinois legislators voted on several bills that Illinois PTA took positions on. You can search based on your zip code to find your legislators, or you can search on their name. There are separate tabs for the Illinois House and Illinois Senate.

Find Officials

The Find Officials tool lets you enter your zip code (and street address, if your zip code is divided into more than one legislative district) to identify your state and federal legislators. The search result provides you with your federal (President, Vice President, Senators, and Representative) and state (Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Attorney General, State Treasurer, State Comptroller, State Senator, and State Representative) elected officials.

Each official’s name is a clickable link that provides their office address in both Washington, DC  and Springfield, their local district office address, phone and fax numbers for both offices, e-mail address, website, social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), committees they serve on, office staff and duties, and more. Click the checkbox next to one or more names, and then use the Compose Message button to send a message directly to those officials.

Find Legislation

The Find Legislation tool lets you search for legislation based on key words (e.g., “bullying”). Doing so brings up all legislation on the issue from the current term of the Illinois legislature. If you want to switch to federal legislation on the topic, use the Change Jurisdiction dropdown menu in the title bar and hit Search again. You can use the menu again to switch back to Illinois legislation.

The search results present you with clickable links to each bill. Each link provides you with the bill’s title, sponsors and cosponsors, actions taken, and a link to the bill’s page at the Congressional or Illinois General Assembly website.

Below the search tool is a View Key Legislation link. This link takes you to a list of bills that the Illinois PTA is tracking and our position on the bill. Each of these bills is a link that provides you with the same information as the search tool.

Quick Sign Up

The Quick Sign Up tool makes it easy for you to add your e-mail to the Illinois PTA Legislative Advocacy Network. Simply enter your e-mail address and zip code, and when there is an Illinois PTA advocacy campaign under way, you’ll get a quick e-mail with information about the issue and a link to a ready-to-go letter to contact your legislator. We do not sell or provide your e-mail address to other organizations, and your zip code is used only to connect your legislators to your e-mail address. That allows us to provide you with a customized letter depending on whether your representative is already supporting, opposing, or is undecided on an issue or to target only those with representatives on a specific committee.

These new advocacy tools provide you with a simple and powerful way to contact your elected representatives to speak up on behalf of your child. Be sure to sign up for the Illinois PTA Legislative Advocacy Network so legislators will hear the voice of parents and teachers when it comes to our children.