Nation’s Principals Advocate on Capitol Hill

National Leaders Conference attendees experienced a crash course on education policy, advocacy, and the latest research.

March 2018, Volume 41, Issue 7

NAESP’s National Leaders Conference (NLC) recently gathered nearly 200 elementary and middle-level principal leaders from across the country in the nation’s capital to sharpen their leadership skills and advocate for schools on Capitol Hill.

The conference sessions and speakers highlighted various education issues, which focused on federal education policy, best leadership practices, and the latest research from NAESP’s Pre-K—8, 10-year study. Chris Bastian, NLC attendee and principal of Central Cass Public School in Casselton, North Dakota shares insight from what he learned during the conference sessions.

NAEP at NAESP Session

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) can help assist schools in finding focal points through their resources link on their website ( One of the main goals of having students take the assessment is to show trend data, and how students are performing academically in the United States. NAEP speakers included Dana Boyd, Laura LoGerfo, and Ebony Walton, who shared how NAEP’s education statistics can help improve the student’s overall learning experience.

NAESP 10-Year Leadership Study Session

Ed Fuller from the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) assisted NAESP in completing a 10-year leadership study on topics such as equity, pipeline, preparation, and authority—as they relate to the Pre-K-8 principals. The top-ranked concern for principals was addressing the increase of students with emotional problems.

The top five areas that take the most time out of a principal’s schedule include:

  1. Interaction with students,
  2. Supervision of faculty and staff,
  3. Informal interactions with teachers,
  4. Addressing socio-emotional needs of students and discipline, and
  5. Student management issues.

Advocacy Agenda & Policy Insights

Danny Carlson, NAESP’s policy and advocacy assistant director rolled out a comprehensive advocacy agenda at NLC. This year, the advocacy portion of the conference was conducted in collaboration with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Principals—representing K-12 schools nationwide—advocated for the following priorities:

  • Responsible federal education funding, including spending on ESSA programs such as Title I & Title II, Part A grants, and increased funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA);
  • Opposition to legislative proposals that divest in public education, such as vouchers and tax credits that fund private institutions not bound by federal and state laws to ensure accountability on staffing, programming, and personalization for students with disabilities;
  • Support for proposals that would amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) that will strengthen principal recruitment, preparation, and retention.


Capitol Hill Visits

The National Leaders Conference prepared principal leaders with information and strategies to conduct effective visits with their legislators. Principals showed how committed they were to students, as each weathered a snow storm, to participate in scheduled meetings on Capitol Hill.

View photos of principals and their state legislators via Twitter below, and search the #naespNLC hashtag to view responses to the NLC Twitter Chat on how principals are advocating for their students.

For more on ways you can advocate both locally and nationally, visit NAESP’s advocacy resource center and View the Latest Advocacy News.

Copyright © 2018. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website 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.