Attendees of NAESP’s National Leaders Conference spent a productive day lobbying on Capitol Hill for our nation’s students, as evidenced by the stories that were shared during the Hill Visit Debrief. Despite a range of responses from congressional staffers, there was a spirit of accomplishment as the voice of principals was heard, a voice that is close to children and knows the daily obstacles faced in today’s schools.

As principal teams met with lawmakers, they shared their stories to provide examples of the relevance of maintaining autonomy at the local school level. The school leaders advocated for the need for high professional standards and multiple measures to determine a principal’s effectiveness.

Likewise, the principals explained the challenges faced by our children, and the need to establish assessment protocols that consider the “whole child.” They explained to their local congressional representatives that success does not come by accident, but requires intention and support through sustained professional development efforts for school leaders.

During the debrief, conference attendees agreed that focus on the debt ceiling appeared to place ESEA reauthorization on the congressional back burner. Congressional staffers predicted that it might take as long as 18 months to gain House and Senate approval. In the meantime, there is uncertainty as to whether NCLB standards for adequate yearly progress will be removed. Consistent was the message that regulatory change would be adopted in lieu of waivers.

—Kimberlyn Pratesi, Principal, Dayton Oaks Elementary School, Ellicott City, Maryland

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