Why Make an Advocacy Plan?
We all have wishes and dreams for our children. When it comes to advocacy, planning is key to making those dreams a reality. As your students head back to school, take some time to plan for how your PTA will advocate for every child with one voice.
Your unit might create an Advocacy Plan to:
- Identify and advocate for the local issues of greatest important to your members
- Engage your membership to respond to time-critical legislative alerts from National PTA or your state PTA
- Participate in school, district and state improvement activities (per ESSA)
- Register voters or host candidate forums in an election year
Your unit does not have to tackle every issue all at once. Choose one or two topics that affect families, teachers and students in your community, and work to build support for PTA's position. The development of an advocacy plan might be spearheaded by your PTA’s Advocacy Chair or another PTA leader.
Step 1: Identify Your Goal.
What issues are currently causing concern in your school or district?
Perhaps you want healthier food in your students' cafeteria, more family and community events or safer routes to school. Or maybe your PTA wants to work with your state PTA to let state and national leaders know your thoughts on school funding, or to support ESSA implementation.
Set goals for what you'd like to achieve.
Keep in mind that state and local PTAs are free to advocate on issues but should seek guidance from National PTA position statements
, where available, to ensure state and local advocacy is consistent with National PTA position statements.
Step 2: Consider your capacity.
Before going further with planning, take stock of your PTA's current capacity for advocacy activities. Do you have enough help, or do you need to expand your team? Do you have an adequate budget for the goals you have in mind? What other events or issues may pull resources from your project?
Step 3: Connect with constituents, allies and opponents.
If community interest already exists around the issue, this is an excellent opportunity for your PTA to raise its visibility by taking a stand, connecting with allies and organizing members for change.
If the community is not aware of the issue, your PTA has the opportunity to educate the public about these important issues.
Step 4: Identify and target decisionmakers.
Know who has the power to make a change. They are your primary target audience. You might have secondary target audiences that include allies, opponents, people who are undecided about the issue or those who have the ability to influence decisionmakers.
Step 5: Design your tactics.
Determine the best ways to reach your target audience (the decisionmakers). Will you host an event, conduct a social media campaign or organize members to send letters and emails or make phone calls? What messages will be most effective for the groups you need to reach?
Create discrete tasks that can be completed one step at a time. Trying to take on too much at once can be frustrating and cause you to lose sight of your end goal. Be sure to celebrate the completion of each step, no matter how small!
General Planning Tips
- Be realistic.
Make sure the tasks you are undertaking are within the abilities of your PTA. Identify issues that are small enough in scope that the local PTA unit can address them in a reasonable manner, but will have a noticeable impact on families and students in your school or district. Or, identify interim goals and/or team up with others for a bigger impact.
- Communicate your goals.
PTA seeks to engage families in education. Make sure you are communicating your initiatives widely through various media (social media, local newspaper, newsletters, etc.) so that people in your area know how they can get involved.
- Be persistent.
Changing policy takes time and sustained effort. Give yourself and your PTA volunteers time to get organized. Don't take "no" for an answer!