NASSP Advocacy Conference Features US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Advocacy Champion Award

As Congress continues high-stakes budget talks, today 350 school leaders from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) met with 150 Members of Congress in the Capitol to ask for resources to address the student mental health crisis and educator shortage crisis. The meeting was part of the annual NASSP Advocacy Conference that included a discussion with United States Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and National Association of Elementary School Principals President Paul Wenger, policy workshops and the presentation of the 2022 Advocacy Champion of the Year Award.

“While some of our community is doing well, we have students who are experiencing emotional stuntedness, some teachers who dread coming to work and parents who are struggling because they feel they can’t keep their kids safe,” said Beth Lehr, an assistant principal of Sahuarita High School, south of Tucson, Arizona. “There is a lack of resources available. As an assistant principal, I can’t sit back and wait for things to get better. We’re at the Capitol to redefine school leadership by giving our representatives the direction out of this education and mental health emergency.”

“Thank you for showing up for students, families and your school communities. Thank you for
everything you do each day to nurture the dreams and potential of every young person in your
care,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Please keep sharing your experiences, what’s working, what’s not and where you think the Department of Education can help. Your voices are, and will continue to be, essential to ensuring every student receives the academic, social, emotional and mental health resources they need to thrive.”

“To best serve our students, our elected officials must learn from educators who are actually leading our schools,” said NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe. “These amazing educators know what works in their respective communities and we must use their hard earned knowledge to guide our way forward. But their efforts here today are just the beginning. Until we intentionally and systemically put principals at the design table, we will never break out of the cycle of ‘try this try that,’ which has plagued education for decades.”

The conference began by presenting the 2022 Advocacy Champion of the Year Award to Chris LeGrande, Principal of Guthrie High School in Guthrie, OK. This honor is given annually to an individual who has worked to elevate the voice and influence of school leaders in federal, state and local policy decisions. Mr. LeGrande works tirelessly to ensure lawmakers in his state and beyond have a firsthand perspective on the issues schools are facing today. In recent years, he hosted shadowing visits with elected officials and staff at his school, including his governor, state superintendent, senator and congressman. During these visits he showed them how his school has upgraded campus safety measures, enhanced career-technology opportunities, embedded on-campus college-level concurrent enrollment courses and implemented successful enrichment opportunities for all students.

The conference took place at a pivotal moment in education. NASSP’s December 2021 nationally representative survey of principals, captured the crisis principals and their students are facing. Findings include:

  • School leader job satisfaction is at an ultimate low with almost 4 out of 10 principals (38%) expecting to leave the profession in the next three years.
  • 68% of principals report being concerned about the teacher shortage in the 2021-22 school year, with 41% reporting they are “extremely concerned.” Similarly, 68% are concerned about educator burnout, with 44% reporting they are “extremely concerned.”
  • More than one-quarter (26%) report that the pandemic had a “great deal” of impact on their inclination to consider leaving their role as principal.
  • 9 out of 10 are concerned about student wellness this school year, with 49% reporting they are “extremely concerned.”
  • Photos and interviews are available upon request.