Advocating for School Psychologists in Response to the APA's Proposed Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists: 10 Things Individuals Can Do To Help
By Anastasia Kalamaros Skalski
- Send a letter to APA asking for the school psychology exemption to be reinstated. The most important and critical thing for every person to do is to send a letter by JUNE 5, 2009, to the American Psychological Association to express your desire for the exemption to be reinstated. You can participate in NASP's "One Click Solution" which assists you in constructing a personalized response to APA by clicking on the following link: http://www.nasponline.org/standards/apaletters/oneclick_apa.aspx.
- Learn about the specific details and implications of the proposed model act so that you can answer questions in discussions about it. You can learn an incredible amount about the nuts and bolts of the model act by reviewing the materials that NASP has posted online. These materials include a complete line-by-line analysis, summary of implications, and links to essential advocacy materials. These can be accessed at: http://www.nasponline.org/standards/apamla.aspx.
- Regularly review information about the proposed model act that is posted on the NASP website or contained in either NASP or APA Division 16 publications or materials. NASP provides regular updates about the model act in Communiqué, the online newsletter NASP Announce, and through NASP Advocacy Alerts.
- Promote school psychology and school psychological services in your local school district. The question "Why should anyone care about the model act's impact on school psychologists?" is really better asked, "Why should anyone care about school psychologists?" It is critical that school psychologists see as part of their normal job the responsibility for promoting school psychology and the value of school psychological services. Where school psychologists are actively engaged and recognized as essential in a school district, any threat to the profession is a threat to the mission and purpose of the school. In these school districts, school administrators, educators, and parents will line up in support of school psychologists if the model act proposals gain steam. Where school psychologists are providing a narrow scope of services, are valued by only a few stakeholders, or are considered secondary to the mission and purpose of schools, the model act proposals pose the greatest threat. NASP has developed the Advocacy Roadmap: Promoting and Preserving School Psychology to assist members and associations in promoting school psychology. NASP members should familiarize themselves with these resources and consider how this tool can assist them in their efforts. These resources are available to NASP members at this link: http://www.nasponline.org/advocacy/psychservicesroadmap.aspx.
- Build relationships with key policy makers in your local school district, state education association, psychology licensing board, and state legislature. As your relationship grows, share your knowledge and opinions about the proposed model act. The emergence of new public policy is often linked to relationships that elected officials or other leaders have with people who are dealing with issues. In anticipation that the model act could advance without a school psychology exemption, it is important to build the relationships now that you might need in the future. Schedule an appointment with your school principal, make a presentation to your school district's board of education, or attend a town hall meeting sponsored by an elected official and introduce yourself. Take this opportunity to tell them about your training and work and ask how you can assist them with shared priorities like improving student attendance, school climate, and graduation rates.
- Ask these key policy makers to send a letter to APA in support of the reinstatement of the school psychology exemption. Once you've developed a relationship with key policy makers, you can consider asking for their support opposing the model act recommendations.
- Learn about the legislative process in your state so that you can personally monitor any revisions to your state psychology licensing laws. Most state's have comprehensive websites now available that detail the activities of the general assembly including reviewing proposed legislation, providing comment, and setting up tools for tracking legislation. Learning how to navigate these resources now can help individuals be prepared to respond in the future.
- Review the agenda for state psychology board licensing meetings and attend any meeting where there are plans to discuss licensing requirements. State psychology licensing boards also typically have websites where information about agenda items, schedules for when issues will be discussed at public meetings, and minutes of meetings can be reviewed. Becoming familiar with how these boards make decisions and attending meetings where you can provide input about proposals that impact school psychologists can be a great way to get involved.
- Check with your state association to find out about their response and to see how you can be involved. Your state school psychology association may be actively preparing a response to the model act proposals and may need help from people like you to serve on committees, attend meetings, or send letters. NASP encourages members to contact their state school psychology associations to see what type of grassroots advocacy they are planning. To find a link to your state's school psychology association, visit this address: http://www.nasponline.org/about_NASP/links_state_orgs.aspx.
- Notify school psychology association state and national leaders if you discover anything that relates to the model act. As you become more aware about the model act's proposals, you might read or hear information about issues in your state that seem related. In the event that this happens, NASP encourages you to contact your state association president, NASP delegate, NASP GPR committee member, or NASP staff member to share your information and concerns.
Anastasia Kalamaros Skalski, PhD, is NASP Director, Public Policy.