While students are on summer vacation, principals from around the nation have come to Washington, D.C., to take part in NAESP’s National Leaders Conference, a gathering of principals and state-based education association executives to engage with members of Congress and strengthen the profession at a grassroots level. So far, we have attended a joint briefing with the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), followed by a reception where attendees networked and shared ideas with other education leaders.

On the conference agenda is a legislative day, where attendees meet with their congressional representatives to discuss education issues. During the joint briefing to prepare principals to meet with their representatives on Capitol Hill, NAESP and AASA government relations staffers encouraged participants to voice “their stories” so that ESEA reauthorization reflects their daily role as instructional leaders, visionaries, culture builders, and catalysts of change. Key concerns for ESEA reauthorization are: recognition of CORE leadership competencies, understanding of the relevance of professional development for leaders, and development of appropriate evaluation tools. 

Principals will advocate on Capitol Hill for ESEA reauthorization policies that will help them improve schools by: strengthening professional development for principals, especially focusing on early education and mentoring, recognizing the core competencies of school leadership, giving all principals the authority and autonomy to lead learning communities, preserving the integrity of targeted formula grants, and supporting state and local assessments that include growth models and multiple measures of student performance.

NAESP President Rob Monson said that the collective voice generated by these two groups provides great potential for impacting decisions made for students.   

—Kimberlyn Pratesi, principal of Dayton Oaks Elementary School in Ellicott City, Maryland