Arizona School Counselors Association
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    Mesa, AZ 85275-0776

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Contacting Elected Officials

Do use the website to determine which legislators to contact.  Many of us work in different legislative districts than where we live.  While it is always absolutely fine to contact any legislator, they are most interested in hearing from individuals who live in their districts, and will be voting constituents.

Do make your story personal. While we are posting a brief e-mail template here, it is meant to be an example only.  Form letters and/or copy and paste is quick, but you will do a much better job of grabbing your elected officials’ attention if you talk specifically about your students, your families, your district, and the individual challenges you and/or they face, using first-hand examples. 

Don’t just contact them when you are discouraged or feel they have “opportunities for improvement”.  If you notice that your legislator voted favorably on a key legislative piece, take the time to say “thank you.”  This will go a long way in helping to build rapport with them, and when you do have concerns, they may be more open to hearing them.

Don’t send a group e-mail to several legislators at once.  This also goes for local government officials, such as school board members.  Not only do officials appreciate being addressed individually, some will not even read or respond to this type of communication.  Electronic communication among members of the same governing entity can constitute a violation of open meeting law if they respond, so they will often avoid these e-mails.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.  The AzSCA Advocacy Committee is here for you, and would be happy to give you some more pointers on your particular advocacy strategy.  Let us know how we can help!

Sample Email

What are you asking for?
I am writing to ask for your support in passing legislation that would mandate school counselors at every educational institution in Arizona. 
Personal story/relevant experience
I am a school counselor and voting member of your district.  I truly feel that I have the best career in the world.  However, the lack of school counselors in my district often makes my position difficult.  I often must triage the students I see, when they all deserve access to a certified school counselor.  For example, I recently was helping a first-generation student fill out college and scholarship applications, when I had to excuse her from my office, because I was called to support a student with suicidal ideation.  While I clearly had to make that choice, both students deserved access to a trained, certified counselor at that time.  School counselors should not have to pick and choose who is “more in need” of our support.  However, with our student caseloads, that is our reality every, single day in Arizona.
Factual support/data
I currently work in a district where the student to school counselor ratio is a whopping 700:1, and there are two certified counselors covering three schools.  Our ratio is almost three times the ratio recommended by the American School Counselors Association (ASCA).  With that number of students on my caseload, it is next to impossible for me to be proactive and support our students equitably.  Legislation that would mandate certified school counselors in all three of our schools would do wonders for the support we would be able to provide to our students and families.

Thank you so much for your consideration on this topic.