Education in America is being threatened by reduced funding, teacher shortages, school safety concerns, and more—and it needs your voice now more than ever. The 2019 NASSP Advocacy Conference is your opportunity to gather with peers in the education community and converge on Capitol Hill to meet with policymakers who are making important decisions at the federal level. With the February 11 registration deadline fast approaching, students and learning communities are counting on you to be their advocate.

NASSP spoke with three past conference attendees who shared their experiences as well as why they’ll be attending this year’s event: Steve Baker, principal, Bluffton High School in Bluffton, IN; Erika Burden, principal, Westwood Middle School in Spokane, WA; and Brad Seamer, assistant principal, Harrisburg High School in Harrisburg, SD.

If Not You, Then Who?

Our young learners are the next generation of active citizens and future leaders, and their education is of utmost importance—as is the school community that serves them—and they need all the advocacy they can get on their behalf. “We must be advocates for our students, teachers, and our community,” said Baker. “School leaders know the school world better than anyone else, and therefore must be a voice to those who make decisions that impact our students.”

“It is essential that we provide a voice for our students and make sure our representatives understand the value of education,” agreed Seamer. “If we don’t speak up for education, who will?”

The NASSP Advocacy Conference is careful to prepare all who attend specifically for those important conversations with representatives, offering training to arm advocates with proper information and skills to ensure productive conversations. “NASSP does an outstanding job preparing school leaders for the meetings with their legislators,” said Baker. “We have all of the necessary information that we need to have informed and detailed conversations. … NASSP does their homework so that we are prepared to be advocates for our students.”

Better Understanding, Higher Impact

The conference also allows for deeper peer connections and helps school leaders recognize how they’re uniquely positioned to demand better education. “I was able to attend several excellent keynotes and sessions,” said Burden. “I learned more about my role and feel better equipped to advocate for our needs in public education.”

“I have a better understanding of education in areas such as Title II, Part A; Title IV; and ESSA, for example,” added Baker. “This allows me to have conversations with my state legislators and Department of Education as they impact us at the local level.”

All three attendees concluded that this high-level comprehension and practice will stick with them long after the conference came to a close, expanding their professional development and personal learning. “The impact of attending the conference was a continued growth in my skillset as an advocate. I have gotten great ideas from others on how to get legislators to listen and understand our concerns,” said Burden. Additionally, Seamer shared how humbling his experience was, adding that it “encourages me to work harder for my students back in my school.”

Why 2019?

When asked if they would be returning for the 2019 NASSP Advocacy Conference, the response was a resounding “yes!” The targeted information, peer networking, professional growth—and of course, the support they can show for the education community—makes this year’s conference a can’t-miss event.

“School leaders should attend this conference to gain understanding on how they can become greater advocates,” said Burden. “It is also an amazing networking opportunity.”

According to Baker, the experience is one of a kind: “NASSP has a wealth of information that will help school leaders be advocates for their students and community. The experiences and meetings with legislators that they provide cannot be duplicated anywhere else. … As a school leader, the NASSP Advocacy Conference is one of the most valuable investments I make for my profession and my students.”

Whether you’re a member of the education community or simply want to advocate on behalf of students and those who lead them, this is your opportunity to change the trajectory of education in a positive way. Our students and schools deserve the best education possible, and this is our chance to fight for it.

Register now to attend the 2019 NASSP Advocacy Conference and use your voice to make a difference. There is no fee to attend the conference, and it is open to anyone who wants to advocate for public education—you don’t have to be a school leader! Don’t wait—registration closes February 11.

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