LETTERS TO THE EDITOR TIP SHEET

Thanks for being willing to write a letter to your newspaper's editor. To help get you started, below are instructions for how to submit, along with idea-starters for the best reasons to support the Outdoor School for All measure to potentially use in your own letter. Pick your favorite and work from that, or include your own reasons or personal story. And please make a clear ask for support for the measure both in your letter introduction and conclusion. 

Many people appreciate and value Outdoor School, even those who don’t support the measure. But the problem is, not everyone understands its incredible value and importance, so they think public resources shouldn’t be spent on it. We know the opposite is true - with scare resources, there isn’t a better investment or more important time to commit to statewide Outdoor School funding. 

When drafting a letter to the editor, it’s important to adhere to the newspaper's (or new web site's) publishing guidelines. Many of those guidelines can be found by using the link above. If there are no guidelines available, use these:

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:

  • Limit letters to 150 words.
  • Include your name, title, home address and daytime phone number for verification.
  • Note, all submissions become the property of The Oregonian and will not be returned; submissions may be edited and may be published or otherwise used in any medium. 

TALKING POINTS

  • Introduce yourself & “thanks for having me” & why I am here. 

Overview of Measure 99:

  • Measure 99 funds a week of Outdoor School for every middle school student in Oregon.
  • It requires no new taxes.
  • The measure dedicates $22 million of lottery dollars annually, to establish a permanent, stable source of funding for Outdoor School.

[Insert your personal story about Outdoor School or your reason for supporting the Measure]

About Outdoor School: (Pick out the key benefits you want to tell you audience.)

  • Students today are spending less time outside than ever before. The average teen spends an average seven hours a day in front of a screen. Outdoor School gives middle schoolers a chance to unplug from video games, iPhones -- it gives them a chance to realize there 
  • Outdoor School helps to combat obesity and depression, and it re-connects young people with the wonders of science and nature.  
  • Outdoor School provides students with the hands-on-learning they simply cannot get in the classroom, learning in the outdoors with field studies (Water, Plants, Fire, Soil, Animals). 
  • Research shows that kids who go to Outdoor School do better in class, testing scores rise, attendance improves, and they become more motivated to learn.
  • It teaches kids important life skills while putting our lottery dollars to good use.

Why now:

  • Unfortunately, budget cuts and unstable funding have denied over half of Oregon students the opportunity to attend Outdoor School and they are often the kids who need it the most.
  • Oregon is facing huge challenges, and it’s up to us to take action. Our state has the 4th worst graduation rates in the country - almost 12,000 students will not graduate this year.   
  • Research shows kids who go to Outdoor School actually do better in school, attendance goes up and when kids stay in school they do better at life.  
  • It’s time to do right by our kids. Every child deserves the kind of hands-on learning that will build their critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership skills. 
  • Measure 99 gives every kid the opportunity to spend a week at outdoor school, regardless of where they live. Teaching them the life skills they need to be successful in school and life. 

Economic Development:

  • Not only is Measure 99 a great investment in our children’s future, it is also a fantastic economic development tool and workforce development tool. 
  • By dedicating $22 Million in lottery funds every year, Outdoor School programs will create 600 FTE jobs, and many of those jobs will be located in rural Oregon. Measure 99 will put $27 Million back into local economies across the state each year.
  • The mission of the Oregon Lottery is to support education, economic development and conservation. Measure 99 benefits all three of the lottery’s mission areas (education, natural resources/parks/watersheds, and economic development) by allocating a small amount, 22 million, provides stable funding to send 50,000 middle school students and 3,000 high school leaders (interns) to a week of outdoor school, every year.

Our Coalition: (Pick a few organizations that support outdoor school.)

  • Measure 99 is supported by a broad coalition of parents, teachers, conservation groups, and businesses.
  • Some of our strongest supporters include the Oregon Science Teachers Association, the Portland Association of Teachers, the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, Nike, and REI.

The Close: (We provide three examples of closings. Reiterate the benefits and close in your own words with why it is essential Oregon to save outdoor school. Don’t forget to ask for their yes vote.)

Option A: It is time to stop talking and start to do what is right by our kids - and Measure 99 is the one measure where your yes vote will make that difference for our kids, and Oregon’s future. Together, we can put our lottery dollars to good use, supporting education, our natural resources and our economy by voting yes on Measure 99. This opportunity is too important - I am asking to join me, and hundreds of parents, teachers in voting Yes on Measure 99 this election. 

Option B: Whether a student lives in Portland or in rural Oregon, every child deserves this opportunity, regardless of their zip code or family income. Outdoor School increases academic performance, it builds important life skills, and it provides the kind of hands on learning students can’t get in the classroom, and importantly, it gives kids a break from technology. There really is not another measure on the November ballot that can do more directly for our students then Measure 99. This opportunity is so very important - I am asking to join me, and hundreds of parents, teachers in voting Yes on Measure 99 this election. 

Option C: In closing, Measure 99  unites our state in a way that no other education program can. Every student will have the experience of learning about our natural resources in the outdoors. And they will meet and learn with students from different schools and different backgrounds - and no other program does this. Outdoor School not only teaches life skills it is the one place where students can get a larger sense of what it means to be an Oregonian. Voting yes on Measure 99 says something about who we are, and what we care about, as Oregonians.  This opportunity is too important - I am asking to join me, and hundreds of parents, teachers in voting yes on Measure 99 this election. 

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Q&A: You do not need to take questions. If there is a question you cannot answer, write it down with their contact information and send it to info@outdoorschoolforall.org.  The campaign will get back to them with an answer. You can refer them to our website outdoorschoolforall.org. 

Thank you for your support.