Policy Matters Blog

2021 Advocacy Academy Wrap-Up

Last week, more than 130 school psychologists, graduate students, and other practitioners from 42 states participated in the 2021 Advocacy Academy! Attendees registered for the entirely virtual training on school psychology shortages and virtual Capitol Hill Day to build advocacy skills and learn about policy solutions to the shortages from experts in the field. 

This year's theme, "Building Capacity to Address Shortages in School Psychology," addressed one of the most critical issues that school psychologists deal with in their work every day—the impacts of school psychology workforce shortages on service delivery. Live sessions and discussions covered topics including data collection, state and federal policy solutions, and state strategies to remedy shortages. Over the course of the event, attendees learned how to communicate the importance of school psychologists and the impacts of workforce shortages to a variety of policy makers and stakeholders, and then they put those skills into action during the virtual Capitol Hill Day.   

The experience began with participants completing six recorded Pre-Academy learning modules where they learned about the foundations of public policy, the basics of legislative advocacy, how to prepare for their virtual Capitol Hill Day experience, and how to find data to support their advocacy, and they listened to interviews with current Capitol Hill staffers. On the first day of live sessions and discussions, NASP President Laurie Klose kicked off the day with a welcome to participants and NASP staff reviewed what we would be covering that day in preparation for the virtual Capitol Hill Day experience.  

The first educational session, led by NASP Strategic Liaison Meaghan Guiney, NASP Director of Professional Policy and Practice Eric Rossen, NASP Director of Communications Kathy Cowan, and NASP Director of Professional Policy and Practice Stacy Skalski, provided an overview of shortages in school psychology. Renee Bradley and Rita Foy Moss from the U.S. Department of Education joined Stacy Skalski and Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach to discuss the government role in addressing personnel shortages in education. After state teams broke out in small sessions to plan their messaging and roles for the Capitol Hill Day experience, state and national leaders from seven states participated in a panel about programs they were leading to remedy shortages in school psychology. Attendees then divided into discussion rooms to learn more about topics covered during the panel presentation before rejoining to learn final instructions and guidance for the Capitol Hill Day experience.  

On Thursday, Advocacy Academy attendees participated in the virtual Capitol Hill Day experience! Although they did not get to tour the Capitol building or sit in a physical conference room, our advocates made the most out of their virtual experience. In total, Advocacy Academy participants had nearly 100 meetings with their congressional representatives and/or members of their staff. Advocates used the information and training from the Pre-Academy learning modules and live sessions to craft their own messages based on research, data, and their personal experiences to urge support for solutions to school psychology shortages. In addition, advocates from across the country—39 states and DC, to be exact—sent over 780 letters to their congressional representatives during NASP's Advocacy Academy Virtual Hill Day, urging them to support NASP’s FY 2022 appropriations request and two federal bills that would increase the number of school psychologists.  

Though the 2021 Advocacy Academy may be over, we look forward to seeing the advocacy and change that our 2021 Advocacy Academy alumni will bring to their schools, districts, communities, states, and country! We hope to see you in person in Washington, DC for the 2022 Public Policy Institute, but until then stay tuned for more advocacy opportunities to come this year.