February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month®, a month that is dedicated to the recognition of CTE programs and Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) that play an integral role in the growth of emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. Now, it is time for you to advocate on behalf of DECA!
Why is advocacy important for DECA?
DECA receives funding through many different sources, but one important source is CTE. At the federal level, CTE is funded through the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, commonly known as “Perkins.” The entire process relies on individuals like you to advocate for the betterment of CTE and to ensure it remains sufficiently funded and represented on Capitol Hill.
There are many ways to advocate on behalf of DECA and CTE, but one effective method is to meet with your local, state and federal officials. Follow these six steps to get started!
1. Find Your Officials
Do you know who your policymakers are? Use this helpful tool from ACTE to look up U.S. federal-level officials such as your state's senators and representatives. Other contacts include the President, Vice President, Cabinet members and Department of Education employees.
You can also research to find your state and local level leaders. State-level officials include your governor and state legislators. At the local level, you may contact your mayor, city or town council members, school board members and superintendent.
2. Get in Touch
Now it's time to reach out and set up a visit (virtual or in-person) or phone call. When requesting a meeting, be sure to identify who you are, who you represent, the time required (typically 15 minutes or less) and the subject you hope to discuss.
Elected officials have very busy schedules, so don't be disappointed if you are not able to meet directly with the policymaker. Often, you'll be able to meet with a member of the individual's staff which is just as valuable!
3. Tell Your DECA Story
During the visit, take the time to share up-to-date facts and statistics about DECA or CTE. It's also beneficial to share a personal story about how DECA has positively impacted your life or success stories from the members of your chapter.
4. Be Direct
What specific actions would you like the policymaker to take? You may ask the official to join the CTE Caucus, attend an event or serve as a competitive event judge, or vote in favor of CTE initiatives on upcoming legislation. It's always best to have a specific request so the official knows what next steps you want them to take.
5. Follow Up
Following the visit, be sure to send a genuine thank you letter and share any follow-up information you may have promised the policymaker or staff member. It's also beneficial to snap a photo or screenshot of the visit to share on social media.
6. Continue the Conversation
Advocacy isn't just a one-time thing. Use your experience to schedule a meeting with another policymaker and you'll continue to improve your skills each time. Be sure to keep in touch and thank officials who honor their commitments or vote in support of CTE.
Now you know everything you need to maximize your advocacy visits! Want to know what the best part is? If you choose to advocate for CTE and DECA you can receive recognition through DECA's Chapter Campaigns. Make sure to read the Advocacy Campaign guidelines and submit your project before March 1 to receive recognition.