2017 GW/NASP Public Policy Institute Review

By: Nate von der Embse, NASP GPR Committee Co-Chair

It has now been a month since the close of the successful 2017 GW/NASP Public Policy Institute (PPI). An incredible group of school psychologists, special educators, graduate students, professors, and administrators from 24 states took part in 3-day or 5-day trainings to build advocacy skills and learn educational policy from national experts in the field. This year's theme, "Equity and Access to High Quality Public Education: National Policy Directions to Address Educational Disparities" addressed critical educational issues and offered practical guidance for changing systems and policies to improve student outcomes. The Capitol Hill visits on Wednesday, July 19 were a culminating experience, with many attendees meeting directly with their elected officials and legislative aides. 

Attending PPI is always one of the highlights of my year. Being able to hear from leaders within the educational policy world re-energizes my enthusiasm for the advocacy work that we do on behalf of NASP and school psychologists. This year, Jason Botel, Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, offered insights into current directions of the U.S. Department of Education from the Trump administration while Michael Yudin (Raben Group and former Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education) described his past efforts working under the Obama administration. These are exciting times to be a school psychologist, and hearing from these two leaders has reinforced the need to be active advocates for our profession and most importantly the children and schools we serve. The policy initiatives discussed at PPI, including the state implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and various school choice programs (e.g., vouchers, tax credits, educational savings accounts) will have enormous impact on the services that schools psychologists are able to provide. I encourage all NASP members to be engaged in the policy and advocacy process as it will be essential for our voice to be heard in upcoming policy debates.  

Other highlights included Dr. Sam Ortiz's presentation on why English language learners (ELL) are not catching up within the achievement gap and Bruce Lesley (President of First Focus) discussing the current trends in the federal budget for investing (or not) in services that will benefit kids. Attendees had really great discussions on connecting federal funding trends with current practices in serving ELL students, ultimately discussing how school psychologists can engage with elected representative and key stakeholder to highlight our comprehensive role in promoting student success. As the dust from PPI settles and the frenzied start of the school year begins, know that the members of the NASP Government and Professional Relations Committee are continually involved in advocacy efforts. I look forward to a successful and exciting academic year, and I hope that you all will continue to be advocates!  

More information about PPI can be found here, as well as sample speaker bios and PPTs from the 2017 PPI, here.

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