Letter writing campaign
Related Resource: http://www.languagepolicy.org/
Letter-writing campaigns conducted at various state meetings have been highly successful in giving language educators a voice in policy matters.
See sample letter to Senator
To send letters to Washington, we use a basic merge function in WordPerfect so that personal information from the teacher (name, address, where the person works, his/her special concerns, etc.) can be merged with a form letter addressing specific legislation pending before Congress. The following items have contributed to the effectiveness of past campaigns and should help with on-site planning.
- The right equipment: Personal computer and a laser (or jet) printer. Many conferences rent the equipment from a commercial source, others borrow from schools or homes. This set-up should ensure smooth and quick letter-writing capabilities. Also, you might need to get a power strip and/or an extension cord, depending on where the power source is in relation to the actual letter-writing table (see #3 below).
- The right software: To conduct this campaign, you will need MSWord. The JNCL-NCLIS office will provide a disk with a form letter and data source file containing a current federal issue. Of course, you can also create your own form letter with an issue that is pressing at the state level.
- Location of table: There should be plenty of space (think of space for the computer with printer and then of the space needed for people to stop and write) in a well-traveled location. If possible, it should be central to registration, the exhibits, and the sessions. The more people walk by, the more people will stop to write. NOTE: before settling on a location, make sure there is a convenient outlet!
- Publicity: Advance material should include an announcement about the campaign and encourage people to come prepared to visit the letter-writing table. At the conference, every plenary session should include an announcement and urge attendees to visit the table. If it is possible, the conference program or packet should have an announcement. The table should be clearly marked with large signs or banners so that it is not mistaken for Pen-pals or anything else. . .
- Volunteers: A number of people need to be available to answer questions, help participants fill-out their information sheets, recruit people wandering by to write letters, and of course, people are needed to be typists. It has been very effective when these volunteers are there for significant blocks of time (all morning or all afternoon), so that once they figured everything out, they have time to use it, not leave at the end of the hour.
- Other mechanical items include making sure there is enough paper and envelops for the estimated number of participants (at least three sheets of paper and three envelops each), making sure there are chairs at the table, and seeing to it that a trash receptacle is at hand (preferably one for recycling "mistakes"). Also, don't forget to designate someone to stamp and mail the completed letters!