2017 Policy Wrap Up
By: Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, PhD, NCSP, NASP Director, Government Relations
As we wind down a busy year and prepare for some much needed relaxation with friends and family, I hope you pause and reflect on the amazing work you do every day to support children and families. From a policy standpoint, 2017 was an incredibly busy year and school psychologists have been as engaged as ever in key policy and advocacy activities. Thank you! Your voice is so important in helping advance public policy that will help children and youth thrive, and prevent the enactment of policies that could potentially be harmful. For many working in education, it has felt like our nation's public schools have been under attack. It is easy to feel defeated, but school psychologists appear more energized than ever in ensuring that all schools are equipped to meet the comprehensive needs of ALL students. The voice of school psychologists is louder than ever.
This infographic is just a snapshot of the level of engagement in important policy conversations. School psychologists are critical to advancing policy at the district, state, and federal levels. This year was a busy year for advocacy at the federal level, and school psychologists were actively involved in key policy conversations.
School psychologists continue to be leaders in the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Thanks to your advocacy, the importance of comprehensive school psychological services, school safety, and school climate are highlighted in various places in the law, and are included in various state plans. (See the upcoming issue of Communiqué for more details.) NASP continues to work with the Department of Education to ensure the comprehensive role of school psychologists is understood and recognized in guidance and technical assistance resources. In turn, school psychologists must continue to work at the state and district levels to make sure that districts and schools are implementing evidence-based policy and practices that meet the needs of all children. Please continue to use and share NASP's ESSA resources, and stay tuned for new tools to assist in your advocacy.
Elevating the Importance of Federal Investments for Comprehensive School Psychological Services
The Trump Administration proposed a budget that slashed education investments for critical programs like Title IV-A of ESSA, also known as the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant, that help schools provide comprehensive school psychological services and improve school climate and safety. Thanks to the collective advocacy of school psychologists and our allies, Congress largely rejected this proposal and funded this critical program, among others. To be sure, more funding is needed to better help states and districts make meaningful investments in school improvement efforts, but this is a good start. (To learn more about Title IV-A, see this ESSA fact sheet, or visit the Title IV-A Coalition Website.) NASP continues to work with members of Congress to educate them about the important role of school psychologists and comprehensive school psychological services and to advance legislation that helps increase access to school psychologists and the important service we provide to children, families, teachers, and administrators.
School-Based Medicaid Services
This year, Congress made several attempts to overhaul the Medicaid program, which provides healthcare to low income children and those with disabilities. Their proposals threatened the school based Medicaid program, which allows schools to seek reimbursement for Medicaid services that they provide to students in special education. Schools receive approximately $4 billion from Medicaid each year, and these funds help to provide assistive technology to students, provide school health services (including mental health), and hire school psychologists and other specialized instructional support personnel. The education community banded together to oppose the proposed restructure of Medicaid, and won. Unfortunately, it appears that Congress may try again to restructure and possibly cut Medicaid funding, which could negatively impact schools. The voice of school psychologists was so critical to this effort, and we will need you to speak up in 2018 just as loudly as you did this year. To refresh your memory as to why school psychologists should care about Medicaid, see this blog post from June 2017.
Protecting Graduate Education
Congress is poised to pass a tax reform package this week. Originally, this legislation contained proposals that would tax graduate tuition waivers and prevent the student loan interest tax deduction. These two provisions would have made graduate education more expensive and, for some students, unattainable. Thanks to your advocacy, these two provisions were removed from the bill—helping to ease the financial burden of pursing a graduate education. Unfortunately, other legislation seeks to end the public service loan forgiveness program. Your voice will be critical in helping preserve this program, which benefits many school psychologists and other educators.
Thank you for the work you do each and every day to help support children, families, and teachers in the schools you serve, and for your engagement in critical policy conversations that could impact our ability to do our jobs well. Your voice is so important, and our success is evidence that advocacy works!
Contact Your Elected Officials
Make your voice heard by visiting the NASP Advocacy Action Center to contact your members of Congress and share how Medicaid Matters.
Impact of Proposed American Health Care Act Fact Sheet
Medicaid is a cost-effective and efficient funder of essential health care services for children.
Proposed Changes to Medicaid Would Harm Children and Youth (Infographic)
This infographic depicts how the proposed cuts to Medicaid would adversely impact children and youth and features how to take action by visiting the NASP Advocacy Action Center.
Cuts in Medicaid Funding Will Directly Impact School Psychological Services (Infographic)
This infographic displays how decreased funding in Medicaid would directly impact school psychological services for children and youth.