Why write a letter to the editor?

Partners Post, February 2014

As a Partner for Public Education you know it is important to advocate for our students. You also know it's important to get more individuals involved in our work to put students at the center of education policies, increase school funding, and make students, schools, and communities a priority in Pennsylvania.

One of the most important elements of getting others involved is to share - to amplify - the message. You can take part in many forms of activism, including writing a letter to the editor.

Would you consider writing a letter about the need to restore school funding? 

Here's why we hope you will and how to do it.

Why write a letter to the editor?

  • Letters to the editor can be effective in influencing public opinion and legislators' views. The "Letter to the Editor" section is one of the most widely read parts of most newspapers, offering a chance to reach a broad audience in your community or region. Letters to the editor can provide readers with information and insights on issues and can also inspire readers to take action. As a member of the community, as a concerned citizen, you have a point of view worthy of sharing.
  • Keep it brief. Your letter should be 250 words or less. Discuss only one issue in a letter. Be aware most newspapers will edit letters, so keeping the letter short will help ensure that the newspaper does not edit out important points.
  • Get to the point. Start your letter with a compelling introductory sentence. Follow the introduction with short, clear factual points. Focus on what is most important rather than trying to address every aspect of the issue. Relate it to home. Newspaper readers care about how an issue will impact them or their families locally. Including brief information on the economic or other impacts of an issue in the community will draw readers' interest.
  • Personalize the issue. Provide an example of how the issue impacts a real person in the community to help readers understand the issue and encourage them to take action.
  • End with a call to action. Ask readers to follow up, such as joining you in calling on policymakers to address the issue.
  • Be polite and professional. Letters should be typed or neatly handwritten and should follow the submission rules of the particular newspaper. Language should be polite and persuasive. Do not write in a hostile manner because that turns off other readers and can make you appear unreasonable.
  • Identify yourself. Sign the letter personally. Include information highlighting your knowledge or any expertise on the issue. Provide contact information, including an address and daytime phone number so the newspaper can contact you or to verify the letter's authenticity.
  • Use the Partners' calculator as a helpful resource. For letters about school funding cuts, consider using this school funding calculator for factual and specific information regarding the cuts imposed in your own district: www.partnersforpubliced.org/calculator






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