Principals Learn and Lead in D.C.

Principals from across the country advocated for schools and students during the National Leaders Conference

April 2017, Volume 40, Issue 8

Every day, principals do their best to support their students through instructional leadership, family engagement, and creating positive environments. Though such efforts at the school level are invaluable, it’s just as critical for educators to advocate for students nationwide.

This March, nearly 200 principals from across the country did just that by attending NAESP’s 2017 National Leaders Conference in Washington D.C. The conference hosted a cross section of professional development and advocacy programming designed to help principals grow, and provided an opportunity for principals to make a difference with lawmakers by visiting congressional offices to have their voices heard.

Addressing Equity

The professional development programming featured a keynote presentation from John Jackson, CEO and president of the Schott Foundation, which focused on this year’s theme of equity, equality, and social justice. He underscored the importance of principals’ commitment to these values, saying that regardless of a student’s ethnicity or socioeconomic background, “we must provide all students the opportunity to learn.”

Attendees had more to learn about equity in sessions that followed, including Sarah Fiarman’s “Leading for Impact and Equity While Addressing Unconscious Bias,” and a presentation on the findings in Scholastic’s “Teacher & Principal School Report: Equity in Education.”

Political Insights

The advocacy programming highlights included an education policy crossfire, featuring panelists Gerard Robinson from the American Enterprise Institute and Catherine Brown with the Center for American Progress. They discussed the political climate around education in DC, and what it holds for schools when it comes to accountability, choice, and funding.

Also in attendance was Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who emphasized the principal’s important role in creating great schools, and commended them for voicing their opinions on education policy.

Principals on Capitol Hill

Though Franken shared enlightening remarks, he was hardly the only legislator principals met. Every year, the conference culminates in visits to Capitol Hill, where school leaders share their experiences with their elected representatives and their staff to advocate for students, schools, and educators.

Visit to learn more about how NAESP advocates for principals at the national level.

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