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Tips for Writing Letters
Many times a telephone call will not be effective or may not produce results. Writing a letter is a good way to record a problem and your efforts to have the problem addressed.
Writing letters to decision-makers can be a very effective way of making a complaint, solving problems in having your child’s education needs met, or to advocate for changes to the public education system. Letters create pressure, build accountability, and encourage others to become more productive and responsible.
Writing letters can also be a good way of sorting out your ideas, and figuring out what you want. Letters also record complaints or problems. If no one responds to your problem, you cannot be accused later of not telling anybody about your problem. How would they know about the problem, if they were never informed?
In your letter:
- Focus on one issue.
- Keep your letter short and simple--no more than 2 pages.
- Write to the person who is most directly responsible. If you are not sure who is most directly responsible, call the school board or someone who works for one of the local, community organizations listed in the Education & Advocacy Links section this web site.
- Write your letter on a computer or typewriter if possible. If your letter in hand-written, make sure that your writing is legible.
- State clearly why you are writing.
- If you are advocating on behalf of yourself or a family member, make your letter personal. Talk about your own situation. Explain the problem and how the problem is affecting your family.
- State what you want to be done, what action you want to be taken. Be as specific as possible about what you want. Be realistic in your requests. Give reasons for your opinion.
- If you provide evidence in your letter, include these documents separately. Do not include confidential documents.
- Read your letter to someone else. Ask them what they think. Proofread your letter, and make changes where necessary.
- Show that you are expecting more than a standard form response. Use phrases like "I look forward to your comments" or "I look forward to your response".
- Suggest a deadline for a response to your letter.
- You may want to send copies of letters to the supervisor of the person to whom you a writing the letter. At the bottom of your letter, identify or “cc:” any other copies you send, so that the person to whom you are writing is aware that his or her supervisor knows about your letter.
- Include your complete return address.
Always keep a copy of all letters you send and receive in your Home File.
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