Advocacy Update: NAESP Gears Up to Press for Funding

By Kelly D. Pollitt Communicator August 2014, Volume 37, Issue 12

By Kelly D. Pollitt
August 2014, Volume 37, Issue 12

Though schools across the nation are preparing for the upcoming school year, Congress has adjourned for the month-long summer recess, leaving several federal funding bills and other business unfinished. For example, the FY 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations bill—which provides funding for all major education programs, including Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B grant funds to schools—remains unresolved. When Congress returns on September 8, it will be challenged to finish the outstanding funding measures over the course of three weeks, before breaking again in preparation for mid-term elections. The timing of this break will likely push final appropriations consideration to the lame duck session and result in a year-long Continuing Resolution. This year—despite being an election year when Congress tends to be less productive—there are several key provisions included in appropriations that are important for principals.

NAESP has long advocated that states and districts increase support for principals, providing school leaders with the support needed to fulfill the requirements and expectations of the principalship. Principals now face a battery of demands related to education reforms, notably to implement new college- and career-ready standards and teacher evaluation models. As a result, the majority of the nation’s teachers and principals are now tackling seismic shifts in practice without sufficient time or resources for proper training and implementation. Funding for professional development to support teacher and principal success is currently an allowable use of funds under Part A Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). However, last year the U.S. Department of Education found that districts only spend an average of 4 percent of the $2.5 billion in that fund for principal development—falling far short of what is commensurate for their role in schools. Moreover, research conducted by NAESP (working with its state affiliates) revealed that expenditures on principal professional development may be even lower, averaging 2-3 percent.

Working with the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the American Federation of School Administrators, NAESP has been leading an advocacy effort to increase Title II Part A funds for professional development for principals through appropriations funding. Now more than ever, these funds must be equitably distributed among teachers and principals to build their skills, especially as the expectations related to their practice evolve. It is unacceptable that, to date, little to no federal investment has been allocated to support principals directly and help them create school communities.

Beyond direct support for principals, NAESP is advocating for increased appropriations related to technology in schools (including devices, equipment, software and connectivity), as well as professional development for educators (teachers and principals), who must receive support to use new technology in ways that improve student learning.

When Congress returns in September, NAESP will be focused on several specific federal education funding issues in the FY 2015 appropriations process for the remaining months of the 113th Congress:

  • Increase education formula grants over competitive grant programs in FY 2015. These programs—such as Title I—are foundational educational investments that support our most vulnerable students.
  • Support an increase to Title I basic and targeted grants to states and districts to serve low-income students. Reductions to Title I over the past three years have hurt the neediest students and school districts at a time when closing the achievement gap is a critical educational and economic imperative.
  • Support funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to reach the federal share of the additional per pupil expenditure of educating students with disabilities. Right now the federal government only funds 14.5 percent of the costs, which falls short of the current law—which pledges to provide 40 percent.
  • Support a rerouting of ESEA’s Title II Part A funds for principals’ professional development. Currently, states spend the vast majority of Title II funds ($2.5 billion) to support teachers, spending less than 4 percent on instructional leadership. Further, statute requires that districts spend funds on both teachers and principals; this is a major oversight by states and districts that requires federal direction. Education is a collaborative enterprise and requires support for teachers as well as principals.
  • Support ConnectED to provide funds for education technology, including educator professional development, particularly through the Enhancing Education through Technology (EETT) program, a federal formula program that has not been funded for several years.

NAESP encourages all members to reach out over the coming weeks to their local district offices to share these talking points with members of Congress. As a member of NAESP, you can find your representative or senator’s contact information in the NAESP Legislative Action Center, which allows you to convey your perspective on these important matters through the click of a button. In September, NAESP will be encouraging principals to reach out to congressional delegations as critical funding measures in education are considered.

Kelly D. Pollitt is Associate Executive Director for Policy, Public Affairs, and Special Projects at NAESP.

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