FGN News: December 2015

This has been a busy month in Washington, with a quick two-session conference approving a bipartisan framework to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on November 19. The House of Representatives jumped right in to approve the compromise bill on December 2, and the Senate took up the bill on Wednesday morning voting to approve 85-12. The bill then headed to President Obama’s desk where he signed it into law this morning before a group of education stakeholders, including our own executive director, JoAnn Bartoletti!

Director of Advocacy Amanda Karhuse and Associate Director of Advocacy David Chodak have also been busy visiting state associations to provide advocacy training and their expert knowledge of federal education policy. Amanda recently visited Alabama, and David traveled to New Mexico. Email Advocacy Coordinator Sophie Papavizasif you are interested in bringing the NASSP advocacy team to your state association’s event. We would love to meet Federal Grassroots Network members in person at future conferences.

This month you should also be sure not to miss an exciting opportunity to add your voice to the federal education conversation by applying for the U.S. Department of Education’s Principal Ambassador Fellowship. Applications are due Monday, December 14. The fellowship is an opportunity to serve as a voice for school leaders in making policy decisions at the federal level. NASSP was a strong advocate for the program and encourages its principal members to apply.

This Month’s Top Advocacy Issues


As described above, the Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177), the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), has passed both the House and Senate in historic votes and was just signed into law by President Obama. More in-depth information about the provisions of the bill, which will replace No Child Left Behind and the ESEA waivers, is available now on the School of Thought blog. Thetext of the conference report was released on November 30, and NASSP, working with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the American Federation of School Administrators, released a letter in anticipation of the House vote on S. 1177 urging passage and noting the provisions of greatest importance to school principals.

New Professional Standards for Education Leaders

The Council of Chief State School Officers recently released the new Professional Standards for Educational Leaders after approval by the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) last month. NASSP Executive Director JoAnn D. Bartoletti, who serves as chair of NPBEA, was quoted in an Education Week articleabout their release. The 10 standards describe what effective school leaders should be able to know and do to lead high-achieving staff, schools, and students in the 21st century. We hope that states will use them to design development opportunities and support for new and experienced principals alike.

Federal Budget

We are racing towards a government shutdown, as the federal budget resolution signed by President Obama in October expires December 11. With little time left before that date and many unresolved issues, there has been talk of an extension until December 18. Policy riders concerning Planned Parenthood and the Syrian refugee crisis could also be attached to the appropriations bill, preventing President Obama from signing it into law. Also on the agenda for Congress are a Highway Trust Fund bill, tax extenders, and another attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which could all prevent lawmakers from meeting their deadline.

The budget deal raised the caps on funding that lawmakers are allowed to appropriate towards discretionary programs for FY 2016, preventing sequestration and steep cuts to many departments, including education. The Labor-HHS-Education appropriations subcommittee has been given an allocation of $161.96 billion, but we do not know where education stands. The Committee for Education Funding, of which NASSP is a member, sent a letter to House and Senate appropriations leadership in partnership with health and labor advocacy groups, expressing concern about the number allocated to the subcommittee and the critical programs possibly at risk.

Twitter Talk

@jfcastro2 “The bottom line is that investments in good principals are a particularly cost-effective way to improve teaching & learning.” NASSP
@dnchodak Excited @RepSusanDavis named as #ESEA conferee! She is a true champion of #principals. Conference starts at 2:30pm: http://bit.ly/1HXgHFx
@akarhuse “High standards does not mean standardizing education” –@RepSusanDavis #ESEA #FixNCLB #CommonCore #CCSS

For more advocacy tweets, join us on social media by following NASSP and the advocacy staff on Twitter:


Over the last decade, NASSP has worked as a member of Advocates for Literacy, a coalition of over 65 organizations that support comprehensive birth through grade 12 state-led literacy plans targeting struggling students who attend schools with low-performing English language arts assessment scores. We are very proud to note that the coalition’s flagship policy, the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) program, was incorporated into Title II, Part D, of the ESEA reauthorization. LEARN authorizes a comprehensive literary program to provide every child from birth through grade 12 with high-quality literacy education. The program will support high-quality professional development for teachers, teacher leaders, principals, and specialized instructional support personnel to improve literacy instruction for struggling readers and writers, including English language learners and students with disabilities.

Take Action

Thank you to the hundreds of members who sent messages through the Principal’s Legislative Action Center in support of ESEA reauthorization. Now that the compromise bill has made it through, consider sending a message of thanks to any of your members of Congress who supported the bill. Visit the action center to see how your representative and senators voted and to use our forms to contact them.

In this Month’s Principal Leadership


Be sure to read Associate Director of Advocacy David Chodak’s article in the December issue of Principal Leadership magazine on his experience working on Capitol Hill, and the importance of legislative advocacy.

Advocacy Updates on School of Thought

Visit NASSP’s School of Thought blog for weekly advocacy blog posts and the latest education legislation news. NASSP Board Member Brad Seamer shared his experience advocating for principals and schools on Capitol Hill in a blog post for NASSP titled “Meeting with Elected Officials: An Obligation to Advocate for Education.” As chair of the board’s advocacy committee, Mr. Seamer is a seasoned education advocate. In his blog post, he offers his perspective on why advocacy is an important responsibility for all school leaders.

All FGN members are invited to write a guest blog post for School of Thought-just email Advocacy Coordinator Sophie Papavizas with your idea. You can also subscribe to the blog to receive an email whenever a new post is published.