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Taking Congress to School

NASSP’s Policy & Advocacy Center hosted a free webinar, “TAKING CONGRESS TO SCHOOL: How principals can invite policymakers to their buildings and conduct shadowing visits”. State and federal lawmakers are constantly crafting education policy, but they often do so without adequate knowledge of the current challenges schools and principals face. You can change that by showing them firsthand what schools need to thrive. Learn how you can invite your members of Congress or other elected officials to shadow you for the day.

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Greg Waples
NASSP Senior Manager of State Engagement and Outreach

Zach Scott
NASSP Senior Manager of Federal Engagement and Outreach

Aaron Huff
NASSP Board of Directors, Advocacy Committee Chair and Principal, Benjamin Bosse HS, Indiana

Vicki Puckett
NASSP State Coordinator and Principal, Mercer Island HS, Washington

Creating Safe and Inclusive Schools: The Federal Role in Addressing Discriminatory School Discipline

Join NASSP’s Policy & Advocacy Center and Learning Policy Institute as the team cohosts this congressional briefing.

In December of 2018 the Trump administration rescinded federal guidance that provided research-based practices for reducing discrimination in discipline policies and their application. Nonetheless, there remains an important federal role in enforcing student civil rights protections and supporting state and local efforts to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline policies.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights Data Collection demonstrate that students of color, students with disabilities, and other historically underserved students, are disproportionately suspended and expelled compared with their White and nondisabled peers. These disparities are not a result of more incidences of misbehavior; instead, students of color are punished more harshly for the same behaviors, especially non-violent offenses like tardiness or “talking out of turn.” Research shows that these discriminatory and exclusionary discipline practices have a significant negative impact on these same students as even one suspension can double the likelihood of a student dropping out. Research also shows that zero-tolerance policies make schools less effective and less safe—not safer—for students.

Recognizing that these policies are ineffective and have a lasting, negative impact on students, a number of states and districts have adopted approaches to school discipline designed to create more inclusive learning environments that are safe for all students.

During this briefing, speakers will discuss:

  • The results of state and local efforts to create positive, non-exclusionary school discipline policies.
  • Current and previous federal actions related to student discipline policies and practices and their impact on historically underserved students.
  • Research-based policies and practices for creating safe and inclusive learning environments.
  • The role of the federal government in protecting student civil rights and supporting state and local efforts to eliminate policies and practices that have a discriminatory impact.

The Learning Policy Institute will also release as new report, Protecting Students’ Civil Rights: The Federal Role in School Discipline.


  • Jessica Cardichon, Director of Federal Policy, Director, DC Office, Learning Policy Institute
  • Ashley Harrington, Director, National Social Justice Program, UNCF
  • Lynn Jennings, Senior Director of National and State Partnerships, The Education Trust
  • Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, National Field Organizer, Dignity in Schools Campaign
  • Carolyne Quintana, Principal, Bronxdale High School
  • Johanna Molina, Senior, Bronxdale High School

Remarks by

  • Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
  • Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Registration and a light lunch will begin at 11:45 a.m. The briefing will start promptly at 12:15 p.m. Lunch will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Seating is limited. Please RSVP by April 29, 2019.


Sponsored by:

The Importance of Mental Health in Comprehensive School Safety and Security Efforts

Location: 2212 Rayburn House Office Building

Sponsored by Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Rick Larsen (D-WA), co-chairs of the Congressional School Safety Caucus. Presenters will discuss how Congress supports the critical coordination between school-based mental health professionals, administrators, and public safety professionals in order to protect our children and those who care for them.

Speakers include:
· Michele Gay, Sandy Hook parent and co-founder and executive director of Safe and Sound Schools
· Ed Clarke, chief safety officer with Montgomery County Schools and former director of Maryland

School Safety Center
· Dr. Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, NCSP, director of Policy and Advocacy at the National Association of School Psychologists
· Dr. Christina Conolly, NCSP, director of Psychological Services with Montgomery County Public Schools
· Paul Kelly, principal of Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove Village, IL, and 2018 Illinois High School Principal of the Year
· Benjamin S. Fernandez, school psychologist working as the coordinator of Prevention Services for Loudoun County Public Schools

Please RSVP by April 9.
RSVP Today!

Congressional Briefing: Student Voice And Youth Engagement In The 2018 Midterm Elections And Beyond

Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Young people voted in large numbers in the 2018 midterm elections. In fact, there was a greater voter turnout among those age 18–31 than in any midterm election in the past 25 years. Motivated by civil rights, gun violence prevention, and educational opportunity, young people—including many high school and middle level students—have taken a leading role in mobilizing, organizing, and effecting change in their communities over the past two years.

Members of NASSP’s Student Leadership Advisory Committee participated in a panel to discuss the issues that are motivating voter turnout and civic engagement among their generation and the projects they are leading around the country to register voters, influence policy, and engage their peers.

As the administrator of the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council, NASSP was proud to provide this opportunity for students, teachers, and school leaders to make their voices heard.

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LGBTQ Your/education Capitol Hill briefing HRC Human Rights Campaign National Principals Month NASSP

NASSP-Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Congressional Briefing: Creating Supportive and Inclusive Environments for LGBTQ Students

The briefing featured the voices of principals, LGBTQ youth, and policy experts who offered guidance for school leaders on creating a safe and welcoming school climate and policy recommendations for Congress to support those efforts.

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Leveraging Principals in Senate Hart Building National Principals Month NASSP/NAESP Tiara Booker Dwyer Scott Palmer Christine Handy Laura Mastrogiovammi

Leveraging Principals to Retain Quality Teaching and Boost Student Learning

The role of the principal has significantly expanded in recent decades. Gone are the days when a principal’s sole managerial responsibilities were largely administrative, which is now just a sliver of a principal’s day-to-day responsibilities. To lead a school effectively, principals must also fulfill the role of instructional leader and create the learning conditions that support teaching and learning. Principals are in classrooms, observing and evaluating instruction, and connecting teachers with the appropriate professional learning opportunities. What federal support do principals need to carry out these important functions? On October 3, we explored these questions and analyzed the problems principals are tackling every day, including teacher shortages and creating a safe and healthy school climate.

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Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grant Briefing

The Title IV-A Coalition held a briefing on the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in late September.

Did you know that every district in all 50 states will receive funds for the Title IV-A flexible block grant program, which was funded at $1.1 billion in FY 2018 and supports safe and healthy schools, well-rounded programs, and the effective use of technology? The briefing explained how districts are using these funds across the country to help create a safe and well-rounded school climate.

At the briefing, education experts and district leaders discussed how program funds can be used for mental health services, violence prevention programs, STEM, physical education, music and arts education, advanced placement courses, computer science, and professional development for technology and blended learning programs.

Guest Speakers

David Deschryver, Director, Whiteboard Advisors
Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., Superintendent, Alexandria City Public Schools
Jeff Meisenheimer, Principal, Lee’s Summit North High School
Christina Connolly, Director Psychological Services, Montgomery Country Public Schools


The Title IV-A Coalition is an alliance comprised of more than 30 national organizations working together to advocate for maximum funding and successful implementation of the flexible block grant, which is authorized at $1.6 billion for FY 2019 under Title IV, part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The block grant, known as the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program, is designed to ensure that high needs districts have access to programs that foster safe and healthy students, provide students with a well-rounded education, and increase the effective use of technology in our nation’s schools. The Coalition believes that if fully funded and administered the way Congress intended under ESSA, the SSAE grant program has the potential to adequately support school districts in their central mission of providing our students with the skills, resources, and support they need to succeed. #MoreTitleIVA

POY18 Group Capitol

2018 National Principal of the Year Capitol Hill Day

The 2018 Principals of the Year from all 50 states and Puerto Rico visited Capitol Hill to meet with their Representatives and Senators to discuss how Congress can support quality education for all students in America.



2018 National Principals Conference: Advocacy Sessions

The Power of Student Voice Matters—Do You Listen? at National Principals Conference

It’s all about listening to what students have to say and empowering them to advocate for change in their schools, their local communities, and beyond. Expert school and student leaders shared strategies for engaging students and ways to use NASSP’s Building Ranks and Raising Student Voice & Participation (RSVP)—a program of National Student Council.

Education And The Path to One Nation, Indivisible at National Principals Conference

Fifty years ago, in response to civil unrest that raged across the county, the Kerner Commission that was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a seminal report on racial division and disparities in the United States. In the report, the commission concluded that, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” Today, many of the same issues plague the country, and concerns over civil rights, racial division, and racial disparities are more pressing than ever. This session was co-hosted by the NASSP Policy & Advocacy Center and the Learning Policy Institute, and brought together researchers, policymakers, and educators to discuss education as the foundation for change and what policy levers and practices are needed to eradicate racial inequities that have persisted in historically marginalized communities and can improve educational opportunities for all students.

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The Role of Principals in Leading Equity Through Deeper Learning at National Principals Conference

K-12 education today is charged with developing new kinds of skills and competencies for the success of all students in college, career, and civic life. This interactive session offered a robust exploration of research and resources for school leaders interested in supporting equitable deeper learning strategies in their schools.

State of American Education Session at National Principals Conference

The fourth annual State of American Education consisted of a crossfire-style debate between two thought leaders in education policy who discussed emerging issues in education reform at the national level. John Merrow, a well-known former education correspondent for “PBS News Hour,” moderated the discussion and addressed hot topics such as changing student demographics, educational equity, teacher quality, private school vouchers, testing and accountability, and college and career readiness.

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Congressional Briefing on High-Performing Middle Schools

The Association for Middle Level Education, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform hosted a Special Briefing on:




NASSP Policy & Advocacy Center Congressional Briefing—Protecting Our Schools From Gun Violence

After one of the deadliest shootings in American history at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the need to improve school safety and protect our communities from gun violence has never been more urgent. In this event, the NASSP Policy & Advocacy Center brought school leaders who had experienced shootings and gun violence incidents in their schools to Capitol Hill to share their stories and offer policy recommendations to lawmakers. The event also featured remarks from Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) who represents Parkland, NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti, and members of NASSP’s Student Leadership Advisory Committee.

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NASSP/ILA Congressional Briefing—Improving Student Literacy: Leadership Needed at Every Level

NASSP partnered with the International Literacy Association to host a congressional briefing on November 29, 2017, that focused on the importance of leadership to improve literacy instruction for students. Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) provided remarks at the briefing along with NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti, who advocated for Title II funding to improve professional development in literacy for educators.

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ESSA hearing in Rayburn 2044 Capitol Hill, Washington DC NAESP NASSP

2017 National Principals Month Congressional Briefing

During National Principals Month, NASSP partnered with NAESP and AFSA to host a congressional briefing where a panel of principals informed members of Congress and their staffs about how states planned to use professional development dollars in their ESSA plans to support school leaders.

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