Tips for Effective Advocacy From Director Sara Betnel

WSSDA regularly asks school directors to share insights on various topics as a way for board members to learn from one another’s experience. Below are some tips for successful advocacy work plus the following example of engaging with lawmakers during a legislative session.

Sara Betnel of the Shoreline School District shared,

“…our advocacy for this session started by establishing quarterly calls with our legislators as a means to share things happening in our district (especially as COVID hit); offering insights, key needs, and to hear what they are working on and ways we can support their work. When setting up the calls, we encouraged that they happen with all the representatives of the legislative district so we could speak together with them as a delegation.”

Director Betnel reported that these regular calls have been essential in relationship-building, staying connected, and identifying overlaps in legislator and district priorities. 

Tips for effective advocacy

Director Betnel also passed along her tips for effective advocacy.

  • Make advocacy a habit.
    Regularly check in on what’s ahead for the week; take 15 minutes to sign-in on bills, and share advocacy opportunities with your board.
  • Be human.
    This is challenging work for everyone, so take care of each other.
  • Keep it brief.
    Focus on students and impact.
  • Give gratitude.
    Say thank you for the progress that has been made.
  • Offer support.
    You can help make policies happen and improve.
  • Involve your superintendent.
    Include them in every conversation with your legislators.
  • Prepare to testify.
    Be ready for 1-minute testimony in hearings; start with the key impact and end with “an ask.”
  • Repeat yourself.
    Keep talking about key issues no matter how many times you’ve already discussed them.

Use your voice

If you want to provide testimony as an individual, school board member, or on behalf of WSSDA, email WSSDA Strategic Advocacy Director Marissa Rathbone. Marissa will help you find opportunities to speak.

If you have a student leader who would like to provide testimony, email WSSDA Strategic Advocacy Coordinator Logan Endres with the student’s name and contact information.