Arkansas Principals Discuss Education With Office of Congress in Washington D.C.
Local school principals Lori Griffin (Ballman Elementary, Fort Smith), Brad Ray (Assistant Principal Northside High School, Fort Smith), and Brian Kirkendoll (Assistant Principal, Alma High School, Alma) visited Washington D.C. this week to encourage State’s members of Congress to pass laws that enhance the nation’s public schools. The visit was part of the annual Advocacy Conference, sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Principals met with legislative aides of Rep. Steve Womack, Bruce Westerman, and Senator John Boozman. The issues discussed included building partnerships between schools and community-based organizations that can help students receive mental health services at school, providing increased federal funding for therapists and mental health services in schools, and recognizing best practices for the delivery of mental health care in school-based settings. Additional topics discussed included the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in the 116th Congress. Since its last reauthorization in 2008, the challenges facing educators and our nation’s schools have grown, including increased loan debt, teacher and principal shortages, and necessary updates to professional standards. That is why NASSP and NAESP implore Congress to include the following policies and ideals in any HEA reauthorization:
- Improve recruitment of school leaders and teachers to enter these professions.
- Embed opportunities in principal preparation programs for principal candidates to strengthen their learning around early childhood education, and social & emotional learning principles.
- Incentivize educators to work in the nation’s highest-need school districts and introduce measures aimed at reducing principal and teacher turnover.
- Improve accountability for teacher and principal preparation programs.
- Require reporting on program features related to future success in the classroom such as admissions standards, clinical preparation requirements, placement, retention, and performance.
- Expand the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants in Title II of HEA to include residency programs for principals.
- Adopt high-quality standards for educational leadership, namely the Professional Standards for Educational Leadership (PSEL).
- Continue the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program for public school educators.
- Support profession-ready standards that require prior education experience to serve as a school leader.
These three local principals were among 180 school leaders from across the country who converged on Washington, D.C., March 18-20 for the annual NASSP Advocacy Conference. The event included a series of presentations and panel discussions on the most pressing federal policies affecting education and culminated with a day of visits to elected officials at their offices on Capitol Hill.