Advocacy on Your Behalf
by Abigail C. Evans, NAESP Government Relations Specialist
, Vol. 33, No. 8, April 2010

In recent years, the term “school principal” has made the occasional appearance in the education policy vernacular, but not consistently, and not earnestly. That is until now.

No one can deny the sincere acknowledgement President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have given the critical role principals play in school, student, and educator success. During the past year, the U.S. Department of Education has made a number of bold proposals targeted at turning around the nation’s lowest performing schools, with principals playing a key role in that effort—and NAESP has attempted to implement positive changes in these proposals wherever possible.

Breakdown of the ESEA Blueprint

We have supported some of the department’s proposals and respectfully disagreed with others. The most recent proposal to surface from Washington is Obama and Duncan’s blueprint for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The blueprint includes several provisions of direct importance to school principals.

For instance, the proposal would require all states to develop definitions of “effective” and “highly effective” principals that “are based in significant part on student growth” and other measures for evaluation purposes. The blueprint would also insert the four models of reform established in the recently updated School Improvement Grant program.

The nation’s poorest performing schools would be required to implement one of the four models, all of which result in the replacement of the school’s principal. And, finally, the blueprint proposes a shift away from formula funding as the primary means of driving federal dollars to states and schools, to competitive funding for everything from professional development to after-school programming.

We have made known NAESP’s strong concerns about these proposals and will work with Congress to institute common sense reforms that focus on supporting educators’ capacity and ensure necessary funding is driven to all schools that need it.

On Your Side

In advance of Education Department’s blueprint release, NAESP developed two ESEA policy proposals that were first unveiled in February during the Association’s Federal Relations Conference. The proposals would provide funding for principals’ access to quality professional development, offer standards-based mentoring to support their efforts in the early years of their careers, and establish professional development in the area of early childhood education to increase principals’ capacity in ensuring a seamless continuum of learning between pre-kindergarten and third grade.

We believe these proactive proposals will help grow the principalship and enable principals and other school leaders to develop the skills necessary to build strong school cultures built on continuous learning and improvement.

Keeping You Informed

As the reauthorization process proceeds, NAESP will continue to provide you with the latest information about federal policies and proposals that may impact your work and school. We are currently in the process of developing a new Advocacy Web page that will enable principals to communicate with their federal elected officials and to track bills and votes on Capitol Hill.

Until this new Web page is completed, we will be posting federal updates on the Principals’ Office blog—check it regularly for the latest news and updates, and offer your feedback and reactions in the comment section.


Copyright © 2010. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or Web site may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP’s reprint policy.