Principals Advocate – Members Lobby Congress
SAANYS members from around the state were recently in Washington, DC, along with over 400 elementary, middle, and secondary school administrators from all 50 states, advocating for public schools, students, and the profession. Led by SAANYS Director of Government Relations Dr. Cynthia Gallagher, the NY team met with 13 congressional legislative offices to address the most pressing issues for school leaders and the students and adults in their care. Student and professional mental health legislation was the top issue, including advocating for the Mental Health Services for Students Act and the Supporting the Mental Health of Educators and Staff Act.
Additional items discussed included support for educational professionals and the education pipeline through the Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act, the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals Act, and the Educators for America Act. Of course, the importance of Title l, ll, and IDEA was also stressed. The full legislative agenda, including descriptions of each of the pieces of legislation can be found here. in the Federal Legislative Agenda outlined by the sponsors of this event and SAANYS’ national affiliates, The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). SAANYS is grateful to its national affiliates for coordinating this major event.
A highlight of the 3-day event was an address by Cindy Marten, deputy secretary of the US Department of Education. A lifelong educator as a teacher, principal, and superintendent, Marten spoke passionately about the state of the education profession – the shortages schools are facing and the reasons for those shortages, noting stress, strain on one’s mental health, and competitive wages. “They’re [educators] not leaving the profession, they’re leaving the working conditions,” said Marten.
Marten also urged principals to “tell their stories.” There’s no greater advocate than the principal’s voice,” said Marten. Show your communities what great things are happening in your schools as a result of investments of funds, time, and support – talk about it and secure that ongoing support. “Use your voice; raise your voice. You need to speak out unapologetically about what your students and your schools need.”
SAANYS would like to thank the New York contingent, which included Tom Payton, Riverhead; Felicia Thomas-Williams, Brentwood; SAANYS President Tony Cardamone, Baldwinsville; John Singleton, Valley Stream 30; Susan Rippe Hoffman and Pierre Lehmuller, NYC Elementary School Principals Association; Henry Rubio and Mabel Sarduy, Council of Supervisors and Administrators, NYC; NAESP President Elect Liza Caraballo-Suarez Ed.D.; and Jennifer Carlson, SAANYS deputy executive director.