Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Communicating with Officeholders

Whether you are meeting face to face with an officeholder or communicating via email, letter, phone call, or tweet, follow these simple tips to help ensure you get your message across.

  • Identify yourself. Introduce yourself as a constituent and/or ATPE member. Lawmakers like to hear from their own constituents and voters. Letting an officeholder know that you are an educator tells them you are an education expert with unique insight.
  • Know your facts. If you don't feel confident discussing a particular issue, do some research. The Teach the Vote blog and ATPE Governmental Relations are great resources.
  • Get to the point and state your position. Don't assume your legislator knows what you are talking about or how you feel about an issue. Provide enough background information for context, but be clear and concise.
  • Localize your information. Put a local spin on any issues discussed to let your legislators know how they are going to affect the constituents in their district.
  • Get to know legislators' staff. Legislative aides and other staff members are great resources for information and can also help influence legislators. Legislative staffers are often the only link to the legislator, especially at the end of session. A good relationship with staff can ensure your opinion gets passed on to the legislator in a timely manner.
  • Be respectful! This is perhaps the most important tip of all. No one responds well to name calling or belligerence, least of all elected officials. No matter how emotional an issue may be for you, always be sure to be polite and professional.

Find contact information for all 181 members of the Legislature on our Resources page. If you are an ATPE member, visit Advocacy Central, where you can easily connect with all your elected officials by phone, email, or social media with just a few clicks of a mouse. Advocacy Central also provides sample messages, links to bills filed at the state or federal level, and other useful information to help you stay connected and informed.

Meet with your legislators

Meeting with legislators is a great way to begin or strengthen a relationship with them and inform them about issues that are important to you. ATPE recommends meeting with your legislator at least twice per year, once in the fall and once in the spring. Legislators spend most of their time in their districts while not in session, so you can often meet with your legislator in their district office during that time. If you can travel to Austin, meeting with your legislators during the session is another option. If in-person meetings are not feasible, ask if your legislator would be willing to meet virtually using Zoom or a similar platform.

When setting up a meeting, follow these steps:

Before the meeting

  • Call ahead. Scheduling the meeting at least two weeks in advance is a good idea. If the officeholder is unavailable, schedule a meeting with the staff person who handles education issues. Staff members are usually very knowledgeable and are great contacts.
  • Prepare for the meeting. Think through or write down the points you want to make and develop an agenda. Although friendly conversation should be part of your meeting, the focus should be on issues. After all, officeholders agree to meet with you to learn about your concerns.

During the meeting

  • Generally, it is best to limit your meeting to two or three people. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming for the officeholder. Occasionally, however, legislators will ask to meet with groups from their districts. Accommodate this request because they may be very busy, and it can be difficult for them to meet individually with everyone.
  • Focus on a maximum of three issues per meeting.
  • Be concise and well organized. Do not monopolize the conversation; rather, lay out your issues early to allow time to get the officeholder's thoughts on your issues.
  • If you are meeting virtually, try to eliminate any background noise or distractions. Participants should mute their microphones when they are not speaking.
  • Don't guess. If you are asked a question to which you do not know the answer, simply inform the officeholder that you will find the answer and get back to them.
  • Leave a one-page summary of your key points and your contact information. Download resources from the ATPE website about our legislative priorities.

After the meeting

  • Always send a thank-you letter. In it, briefly restate the points discussed during the meeting and include any additional information you promised to send.
  • Call or send a note or email to ATPE Governmental Relations. Let us know how your meeting went so we can follow up in Austin.

Write letters

Besides a face-to-face meeting, a letter written on stationery and sent via U.S. mail is one of the most effective means of communicating with legislators. Many people falsely believe that traditional letters are outdated in this digital age. However, research shows that letters can influence officeholders more than other forms of communication because legislators know how easy it is to send an email. They feel that someone who takes the time to write a personal letter is showing true commitment to the issue.

So, get your pen and paper and follow this advice:

  • Send a personal letter rather than a form letter. Handwritten (if it is legible) is best, but typed letters are fine.
  • Try to limit your letter to one page. Never write more than two pages.
  • Be polite and persuasive. Name-calling, threats, and sarcasm hurt your case.
  • Ask someone to proofread your letter. Nothing looks worse than a letter from an educator that has grammatical mistakes, and computers' spellchecker functions are not reliable.

Make phone calls

At some points in the legislative session, there simply isn't enough time to schedule a meeting or send a letter through the mail. During these times, phone calls are one of the quickest and most effective means of communication. When making phone calls to legislators, follow these guidelines:

  • Familiarize yourself with the issues beforehand. Use ATPE’s resources to learn more.
  • Identify yourself as a constituent and/or ATPE member.
  • Be prepared to give your address, if requested.
  • Note the bill number and committee, if possible, and state your position on the issue.
  • Tell your legislator what you would like them to do (vote for or against or amend a bill).
  • Ask for the legislator's position on the bill or issue.

Address officeholders correctly

Whether you are meeting face to face, writing a letter, or calling an officeholder, use the appropriate salutations to show your respect. Refer to the guide below when communicating with officeholders.


  • Address on letter: The Honorable (FN LN)
  • Letter salutation: Dear Governor (LN)
  • Telephone greeting: Governor (LN)

Lieutenant Governor

  • Address on letter: The Honorable (FN LN)
  • Letter salutation: Dear Governor (LN)
  • Telephone greeting: Governor (LN)

Speaker of the House

  • Address on letter: The Honorable (FN LN)
  • Letter salutation: Dear Speaker (LN)
  • Telephone greeting: Mr./Madam Speaker

State Senator

  • Address on letter: The Honorable (FN LN)
  • Letter salutation: Dear Senator (LN)
  • Telephone greeting: Senator (LN)

State Representative

  • Address on letter: The Honorable (FN LN)
  • Letter salutation: Dear Representative (LN)
  • Telephone greeting: Representative (LN)