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2020 Presidential Election Results: A Promising Future for School Psychology
Now that the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election has been revealed, there is much more in store for the field of school psychology. Given the tremendous support of school psychologists shown by the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ticket, a newfound hope has emerged with a promising future for school psychology. While the 2020 election occurred in the midst of widespread stress and anxiety from the pandemic, economic challenges, and racial injustice and unrest, it is clear that voters have spoken and are ready to heal and move forward as a nation. As school psychology professionals, we are in a pivotal position to increase our visibility and value within the field of education and psychology. However, we must continue making a contribution to the healing process by helping children and youth feel safe and secure through these trouble times. More importantly, it is time for us to make bold advocacy moves to support the position and policy priorities for school psychology at federal, state and local levels. This means we must plan and execute advocacy activities now to increases our chances of success with getting important policies passed that can create endless opportunities for school psychologists. While it is clear our incoming President indicated a plan that supports school psychologists, children and families, Congress ultimately decides on school funding.
Listed below are a few ideas to activate your grassroots advocacy and recruit additional members of Congress to be friends and advocates for school psychologists:
Send a note/email to new and returning legislative members and/or staff.
Simply sending a friendly note can be an effective way to get information about our profession in front of legislators who do not know who school psychologists are. This is a great way to introduce or expound on the profession and the importance of our various roles in schools, including mental and behavior health service providers. NASP's "Who are School Psychologists?" document provides an excellent summary for this purpose. Don't play down the impact that introductions can play, especially when coupled with Thanksgiving greetings.
Send a holiday e-greeting card (including state school psychology associations).
A holiday card (or e-card) is a great way to share greetings for the holiday season and stay connected to your elected representatives. Bring holiday cheer in a way that makes school psychology unforgettable.
Share the Ready to Learn, Empowered to Teach with your elected school board members.
This fantastic, recently updated NASP resource provides information on NASP's overarching policy principles and recommendations necessary to maintaining a high-quality public education system. This is a great way to share our view of a school psychologists' role in maintaining high-quality public education!
Visit the virtual NASP Advocacy Booth at the NASP 2021 Annual Convention and send letters to your state congressmen.
Many of you are aware this is a tried and true grassroots advocacy activity that takes place every year during Annual Convention. I encourage you to take part in the virtual advocacy activities planned for Annual Convention next year. We need to show up in record numbers with our advocacy efforts to make our profession more visible and known among our members of Congress across the nation.
Connect with your legislators and/or their staffers through social media.
Share posts advocating for schools psychology on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram handles. Tag your congressman and keep them engaged with important information, resources, and dataregarding the school psychology profession in your state. You can use the key messages documents in NASP's Policy Playbook to help develop your message. Don't forget to use the hashtag #NASPadvocates!
Watch a school board meeting or state legislature education committee meeting.
Participate in your school board or education committee meeting!. Make note of agenda items and how school psychologists may assist in accomplishing some of these items. This is also a time to connect with your school board members or education committee members to find out what they are most passionate about as it relates to providing the very best for children and their families. You can also submit written or oral testimony. Check out NASP's resource to advocate for school psychology positions for more guidance!
Develop relationships with members of the media in your community and get a key message about school psychology out in the public view.
State association leaders should connect with local media contacts. Exchange information and establish association leaders and/or members to serve as experts for various topics around children's educational, social/emotional, and behavioral needs. Consider submitting an op-ed to your local newspaper or pitching a story to your local TV news.
Review and pick one advocacy resource to protect school psychology positions.
There are several resources to choose from as protecting school psychology positions will be an ongoing effort to preserve the profession. Be sure to speak up and speak out about what school psychologists do and why more positions are essential to support the mental and behavioral health needs of students.
Join a partnership/coalition with like-minded people/organizations.
Find people who have similar interests in advocating for children's academic, social/emotional and behavioral well-being. This could even include groups of concerned educators or parents in your community on Facebook. There is power in numbers!
Review and revise key messages and talking points for school psychology in your state.
State associations should review and revise their short list of key messages as needed to send to members. Key messages may be changed completely or re-worded to make the greatest impact on recipients.
Create a short 3-minute video about the importance of school psychological services to share with school board members and members of Congress.
Get people's attention by connecting to a local, state or federal legislative priority in just a few words (2-3 minutes) that will activate a discussion. Leave your viewers with something great to remember about school psychologists.
Create a pre-National School PsychologyWeek (NSPW) activity to bring awareness of the upcoming event.
A kick-off event is always fun to get school psychologists and others supporters excited about NSPAW! Individual or group (State Associations) Facebook Live events are just one example of how you might get the excitement started around NSPW.
Create and send a press release about National School Psychology Awareness Week. Get attention, make news, and generate publicity. This is cost-effective marketing (free) and can be used to facilitate awareness of the school psychology profession.
Send a holiday e-greeting card (including state school psychology associations). A message full of thanks and holiday cheer is a great way for members of Congress to remember you and your school psychology association. Show appreciation for their and accomplishments and dedication to supporting the academic, behavioral, and social/emotional needs of children and families. Be memorable!