Leadership and Advocacy in Washington D.C.

Both the National Association of Elementary Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary Principals (NASSP) joined forces for a Leadership Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 17-20, 2019. The focus of the conference was to provide principals from across the nation (approximately 400 strong) the skills and tools needed for effective advocacy. The culminating event was a day on the “Hill” packed with meetings in the offices of senators and house representatives.

The New York Team consisted of:

  • Dr. Regina Huffman, President of SAANYS
  • Peter Kruszynski, President Elect of NASSP
  • Tom Payton, NAESP State Representative and Principal of Roanoke Avenue School
  • Paul Fanuele, NASSP State Representative and Principal of Arlington High School
  • Pierre Lehmuller, Executive Director, NYC Elementary School Principals Association
  • Olivia Francis Webber, President of NYCESPA
  • Dr. Eliza Caraballo- Suarez, PS 20 Principal and NAESP Director at Large, Minority Level
  • Gabe Gallucci, Director, Government Affairs at Council of School Supervisors and Administrators
  • Cindy Gallagher, Director of Government Relations, SAANYS

It is extremely important for educational leaders to use their voices and skills to discuss educational needs with policymakers. As an example, President Trump’s proposed budget recommends decreases in title programs across the board. Information shared with us at most of the meetings underscored that his budget should be considered a starting placing and not where they expect the final negotiations end. In turn the information shared by our team in the congressional meetings brought the need for federal funding to life. For example, in one school, the funding was used successfully to enable a low performing school to make the necessary progress to come off of the list within a five-year time frame. Other examples indicated how the funding was used for professional development on the mental health needs of students. The examples from the field provide our congressional representatives information to reinforce their work in congress.

Also during the conference, results from a nationwide survey of principal turnover were presented. From a report entitled Principal Turnover (2019,NASSP and the Learning Policy Institute):

  • Job stability is most strongly associated with educational experience and being prepared for the position (interships, mentoring, in-serve preparation)
  • There is a strong relationship between school and student characteristics and a principals decision to leave.
  • Schools with higher percentages of students from low income and low performance exhibit higher turnover rates. The underlying reasons however may be related to fewer resources, less competitive salaries and problematic working conditions.

Please see the following link for more information in this report:


The clearer the message, the clearer the advocacy position. Using this information, SAANYS strongly advocates at both the state and national levels for funding for professional learning opportunities for administrators. It is not lost on us that the professional who most often provide or coordinate professional learning for others do not receive the needed supports to carry out their jobs effectively.