CSA Joins AFSA To Lobby For Educators in Washington DC
Oct. 17 marked CSA’s first ever joint lobby day with AFSA in Washington, DC. We joined our brothers and sisters from around the country to have important conversations with elected officials at the highest levels of government. Active CSA members lobbied alongside retired members, an experience that all said was important and useful for our cause.“ The opportunity to convey our experience from the ground was well received and we were able to educate those who influence policy,” said Wladimir Lewis-Thomas. “We need to be at the table to influence those who impact policies that affect what we do.”
Our lobbyists tackled several issues, including Title II – Part A funding, Title IV – Part A funding, school safety, mental health, school climate, and funding. Members conveyed real experiences in our schools and expressed how the government has been falling short when it comes to the nation’s investment in our students, schools and school leaders.
Throughout our lobby visits, we urged Congress to fund Title II – Part A funding at no less than the House-passed level of $2.5 billion, an increase of $500 million from last year’s fiscal year budget. Title II – Part A funding alone could be directly allocated toward establishing a principal pipeline and creating leadership development programs.
Additional funding could be used to prepare aspiring school leaders, help current principals, and invest in mentors and coaches who directly support principal learning. Research has shown that a more deliberate approach to educating and supporting school leaders will improve schools throughout the country, while also boosting principal retention. Title IV – Part A funding was another important issue that was discussed during our AFSA hill visit. Title IV – Part A funding directly impacts our student support and academic enrichment grants. These grants include programs that would establish a more well-rounded education for our students. Arts, music, computer science, and social studies are just a few areas that could be improved with additional funding. We urged Congress to fund the “Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants” at the authorized level of $1.65 billion in FY 2020, up from $1.17 billion the year before.
Finally, we discussed school safety, climate, and mental health issues. We promoted student well-being and pushed Congress to support holistic approaches to violence prevention and intervention within our schools and our communities. We support three bills aimed at improving access to school-based mental health services. These bills include the “Mental Health Services for Students Act,” “Safe Schools Improvement Act,” and the “Trauma-Informed Schools Act.” The issues addressed under these bills include comprehensive anti bullying policies, increased funding for substance abuse and mental health services, and evidence-based training for crisis intervention teams.
“I’ve always believed that New York has been a trend setter regarding education, and it is important for us to have a seat at the national table to share our innovative approaches,” said Janice Imundi, a retired principal and the secretary of the CSA Retirement Chapter Executive Board. “It was obvious to everyone that our team was organized, well-trained and experienced individuals who knew how to advocate for bills that affect our students. It was also important that we maintain relationships with AFSA members throughout the country and communicate with them at times other than when we see them at the AFSA Convention every three years. Go team!”
Indeed, the comradery between retired and active members with school leaders around the country reinforced how interconnected we are as a union family, and how important it is to continue building internally as well as under the national leadership of AFSA, NAESP, and NASSP. We are only strong if we continue to learn from our past, build in the present, and strengthen our pipeline for the next generation of school leaders. Personally, I believe this trip was a small glimpse into the potential this union has locally, statewide, and now, on the national stage.