We believe there are some key elements which can be a part of each letter to make it very personal and effective:
- Make it personal. Who you are, how your child is involved in Performing Arts, what it means to you, and why you care. If you are a member of an organization, such as a church which relies on students for music programs, you can state that as well. It broadens the impact of your letter.
- Be respectful. Remember, you get more bees with honey than with vinegar. You would want the same in return and they are more likely to read the entire letter.
- State what you expect. For example, you might expect that funding for Board of Education priorities will NOT be taken from existing Performing Arts programs and that Performing Arts programs funding at all levels will be maintained and/or grown.
- Use facts and figures if you have them. For example, "Studies show that when instrumental music programs are unfunded and removed at the Elementary School level, within 2 years, music enrollment in middle schools drops by 65% and this follows through with the same 65% drop in enrollment at the high school level."
- If you don't have specific facts and figures, appeal to the heart and/or state things known to be factual, even if you don't have exact data. Some examples are: 1) Kids involved in performing arts on average perform better on standardized tests, have higher average grades, have higher graduation rates, and are better prepared for a career or post secondary education. (These statements happen to also touch on the Board's stated "Ends Policies" or goals for Jeffco.) 2) The average Performing Arts teacher has a higher student load (also known as Student to Faculty Ratio or "SFR") than does the average teacher, meaning that economically, they allow administrators more flexibility to fund programs which may require a lower SFR and couldn't otherwise be afforded.
- Mention how many people care. You can talk about your circle of friends, organizations you are involved in, and/or reference the Jeffco Schools February budget survey where 13,000 people responded with support for electives being the #1 priority.
- Always be factual.
JPAAC is working to gather more facts and figures so they can be posted on our "Research and Data" page for your use. You can also go on the web and find unique research and data content for a letter. If you do find something of interest, we'd appreciated you sharing it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can post it on our site for the benefit of everyone.