New Congress – New Opportunities
Many of you are probably wondering how the recent elections will affect school social workers and our attempts to get better legislation at the federal level. No matter for whom you voted (I'm just assuming that ALL school social workers vote!), a new Congress brings new opportunities. The SSWAA Government Relations Team is busily reading the bios of all the new members of the Senate and House to see who might have a connection or interest in our issues. Whatever that analysis reveals, each of you should begin to think about how to build a relationship with whoever represents you. The best way to learn about the advocacy process is to attend the SSWAA National Conference in Nashville (registration now open) and to come to Washington, DC, in July with others from your state to get first-hand experience in visiting your members of Congress! Remember: Labels like "liberal" or "conservative" mean nothing. Rather doing what SSWers do best – advocating and building relationships – is what gets you in the door and influences key policymakers. PLEASE join us in Nashville and DC to learn more from the SSWAA government relations team!
The U.S. Department of Education has just issued guidance to state superintendents regarding a requirement in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind) that requires states develop plans to ensure teacher equity. In short, Title I schools, which educate some of our neediest, most high-risk students, often end up with the least experienced teachers. States must ensure "poor and minority children are taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers." The new "State Plans to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators" are due to the Department of Education on June 1, 2015 and are to be developed after "meaningful consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including... pupil services personnel." This is another great opportunity for SSWers to participate in the policymaking process and to add your voices to ensure high-need students have the best possible chance to succeed. And while you're there talking about equitable distribution of high-quality teachers, don't miss the opportunity to talk about all the other supports those students and their families need to get them over the finish line. State associations should contact the state department of education to see who will be developing your state's plan and get SSWers at the table!
SSWAA Legislative Advocacy Team
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