Editor's Note: It's Time to Pay Attention
By John E. Desrochers
Volume 45 Issue 6
By John E. Desrochers
About midway through my career, I became acutely aware of an important reality: that as helpful as I was as a clinician working with my individual students and families, I could help a far greater number of students succeed if I added more systemic advocacy to my repertoire of interventions. From that point on, I have done things like serve on district and state committees to advocate for better services, written letters to legislators, and served in NASP leadership. While these activities were often easy to fit into my work life, they assumed more of my time and attention as the years went by. Interesting enough, as I look back, it is those more systemic advocacy interventions that I now think were the most important interventions that I have made on behalf of children.
I am proud to say that many NASP members work on public policy and social justice advocacy—each in their own way. NASP as an association exerts a lot of its effort on behalf of public policy advocacy, and that is one of the reasons that I gladly pay my dues every year. Of course, the election of a new president and Congress is always a time when new ideas are debated and new policies are put into effect. In my memory, however, more issues critical to the welfare of our students and their families are being discussed in more radical ways than ever before. And all of this is happening in the midst of an information overload fueled by political partisanship, the Internet, social media, and “breaking news” every 10 minutes on television. It gets confusing.
Well, it's time to pay attention.
I want to suggest that you read some of the advocacy pieces in this issue to learn about NASP's public policy and legislative platform (p. 24 & 26); what can be done to reduce the school psychology shortages (p. 16); and, for a bit of NASP's history of advocacy, the anniversary of the Rights Without Labels document (p. 1). You can find more resources and information on NASP's public policy efforts under the Research & Policy heading on the NASP website.
The journalist Thomas Friedman says that, in the face of what seems like everything is changing so fast at the same time, “you can dance in a hurricane.” I like this metaphor and have resolved to stay in the eye of the storm and observe the swirl about me while remaining calm and hopeful. I will be aware of the swirl, but not let my energy be sapped by it. I will, however, pay attention when I see something that is substantial and that has real impact on the issues that are important to me and to my students. I will pay attention and I will act. And I won't get tossed about by the distractions.
Happy spring, everyone! Pay attention.
—John E. Desrochers