What's So Great About PPI?

By: Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, PhD, NASP Director, Government Relations

By now you've probably heard that NASP is hosting a Public Policy Institute with George Washington University.  This year, our theme is Education as a Civil Right for All: Implications for Public Policy (learn more details by clicking on the picture).   You may also be wondering why an event like this is important for school psychologists, why the issue of civil rights and education is relevant to our work, and how PPI could help improve your daily practice.  

As a former PPI attendee (back when I was still a practicing school psychologist), I can honestly say that this experience was invaluable.  The skills I learned helped me to more effectively influence changes in practice in the schools I served and helped me see how I could also work to create change at the district, state ,and federal level to improve outcomes for kids.  I can honestly say that I apply many of the skills I learned at PPI in the work I now do on behalf of NASP.   

As school psychologists, we are awesome advocates for the students we serve.  We are not always awesome advocates for ourselves or the critical services we provide to kids. In some ways it feels self-serving and uncomfortable.  After all, we became school psychologists because we wanted to help children and families, not for self-promotion. But, advocating for the profession of school psychology, for our role, for the ability to serve kids using our full range of skills, and for the supports and services we know improve student outcomes IS good for kids. And it is critically important that we actively work to engage policy makers at all levels to ensure that policies are put in place that support our ability to do what we do best- work with teachers, families, and students to support their success. 

School psychologists believe that all children, including those with disabilities and students stuggling with barriers to learning should have access to a great education regardless of where they live. Many of us have probably seen first hand how certain federal/ state/district/school policies and practices have impeded access to a great education for all students; in some cases, specific policies have resulted in poor outcomes for some students while supporting improved outcomes for another group of students.    We know something needs to change, but advocating for this change, and for ourselves seems out of our comfort zone.  PPI provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to go out and effectively advocate for the needs of our students, teachers, families and communities through our daily practice and in our engagement with important decision makers.   

Still not convinced?  Here are what a few other folks have to say.

"My first PPI experience was when I lived in New Mexico and participated as a member of the New Mexico delegation. During the Hill visits, we called upon Senator Pete Domenici's office, expecting to meet with a couple of his staffers. Lo and behold, when the door opened to the conference room in which we were waiting, Senator Domenici himself walked in. We did not anticipate a member of Congress of his stature would be have the time or would be interested in meeting directly with us to discuss children's mental health and other issues meaning to us, as school psychologists, given the parade of people vying for his time and ear; however, mental health was an issue near and dear to Senator Domenici's heart and he took copious notes as we talked about various policy matters and bills making their way through Congress. Leaving his office that day, I felt as though I had contributed to a process and influenced one of the very people we had put in the office to represent us, as citizens of a particular state and of our nation, especially." - Todd Savage, NASP President

"I attended PPI years ago and it is still impacting my career today!  I learned how to advocate at the local, state, and national level and the skills learned at PPI are used every day in the work I do impacting all levels of systems change  To sum up my PPI experience....Awesome and Empowering!" - Melissa Reeves, NASP President Elect

We hope to see you!  More information about this year's PPI can be found here