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Beyond the Editor: Don't Stop Now!
The Power of a Letter
When you check your mail each day, don't you feel most drawn to open any personal letters first?
Someone has taken the time to write to you personally. If you open your letter and find a thank you or a bit of praise, your whole day changes. In some cases, even your whole attitude might change.
When you write to some of the people suggested on this page, consider including a handwritten note. You may find your recipient more motivated to read the rest of what you send when he or she sees you took the time to personalize your correspondence.
Keep in mind how much a personal touch means to you and apply it to those you wish to influence.
Don't stop with letters to newspaper editors. There are many more people who need to hear from you. Consider some of these possibilities:
Dear Rep. Everyperson,
I'd like to share some of my concerns about public schools...
I wanted to share an article I thought would be useful with your work on the education committee (include article)...
I'm a former school teacher and currently work as a private tutor...
I'd like to take the liberty of sharing some thoughts and observations with you...
School leaders (school board members, PTA presidents, superintendents, principals, teachers, etc.)
Dear Mr./Ms. Schoolperson,
As a member of the community, I'm deeply concerned that children receive a quality education. I wonder if you're familiar with some of the opportunities that exist for independent study. I know some of the more motivated students in the schools would welcome a chance to take on a little of their own education. Enclosed is a list of some books and web sites students may be interested in...
(The point of this letter: Independence can come in small steps -- one person realizing he can do something on his own. Maybe no students will ever hear of your suggestion, but a seed will be planted. If your letter recipient becomes angry, she'll probably vent, which means another person will hear the message. If the recipient is a parent, a bigger seed may have been planted.)
Other writers to the editor
Do you see letters from others supporting a position opposite yours, or close to yours? Consider writing to them in care of the newspaper and sending some info. Tell them you enjoy reading their letters or that you always read them but don't agree and wonder if they'd be open to considering your point of view. Be super nice.
Columnists: local, state, national
Do you read a columnist who writes a lot about education issues? Share your view with him or her (along with an article or two and some web sites).
The education person at newspapers and TV stations (most have someone assigned to the school beat)
It's especially effective to send these people information and resources they can draw on for stories, with a note saying basically, "Thought you'd be interested..." You might also consider sending fresh information and human interest stories once a month or so. These folks have a lot of space to fill up, and they have to do it every day.
Local radio talk personalities
They're always looking for material (you might want to be prepared to go on air)
Private schools often need encouragement to remain committed to independence. The lure of vouchers is tremendous. Write to the principal and tell him you admire what he's doing and are very concerned that private schools remain free and independent. Include some literature about the dangers of vouchers and government aid. If you can manage it, include a small donation ("Enclosed is a small donation of $5/$10... Maybe you could use it toward some munchies for your next staff meeting.").
Parents who send their children to private school or who home school them
Tell them how much you admire their commitment and that you worry about such dedicated people falling prey to state schools luring people back with charter schools, on-line courses, vouchers. Include some short, pointed article.
Professors at teachers' colleges
Be tactful but tell it as you see it. It may make them angry, but they won't forget it. Include literature.
Student newspapers at colleges
They love controversial stuff.
These people are in key positions to help their congregations understand and work toward freedom from government-controlled education. Share your concerns and offer to send articles or other material once a month or so.
Community leaders with an interest in education (especially Chambers of Commerce)
Make them aware of all the independent opportunities available to students, tell success stories of home and private schoolers. Include literature.
Leaders of civic groups (Rotary, Optimists Clubs, Lions, Kiwanis, etc.)
See above suggestion.
Do a search on the internet and write to any that sound as if they could use a dose of "New View."
The National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
Why not go for broke? Defend the independent folks.
Use your imagination. The list of people who stand to be influenced toward academic freedom is endless. Consider committing to writing to one person a week.
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