Michigan School Board Members Advocate on Capitol Hill

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, Feb. 7, 2018

With more than 75 board members and superintendents at the National School Boards Association’s Advocacy Institute in Washington D.C., Michigan was once again tied with Texas for the largest delegation! In all, more than 700 school board members from across the country descended on our nation’s Capitol to stand up for public education.

Michigan’s delegation began the conference with a lunch featuring NSBA’s new Advocacy Director Kelly Pollitt. She gave an overview of the conference and talked about the passion for education she feels at the conference. She gave some advice for talking to the elected officials and thanked everyone for what they do and the commitment they show by attending this event.

Cokie Roberts was the featured speaker this year and with humor, stories and personal insights urged everyone to get and stay involved. She pointed out, in these days of social media and technology, the personal meeting is all the more powerful. She wrapped up her speech stating, “you can’t have the American Dream without quality public schools.”

Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7th District) addressed the full conference and spoke about the need for opportunities for all students. She is the first black woman elected to Congress from the state of Alabama and credits her public school education and those “who walked before her” for the opportunities she has now.

Michigan's full delegation attended MASB’s annual Senate Breakfast in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Sen. Debbie Stabenow spoke to the delegation in depth about career and technical education and the need for more career counselors in schools. She is looking at what can be done federally to lower Michigan’s overwhelming ratio of students to counselors. Then we were joined by Sen. Gary Peters who took questions on a variety of issues. He thanked everyone for their service and applauded them for Michigan having so many people at the conference. He also spoke about the need to fully fund the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act pointing out that without funding and supporting all students and their education, this country’s workforce will suffer.

All 14 of Michigan’s Congressional offices were visited by our delegates. Topics addressed in those meetings included reauthorizing the Perkin’s Act and funding CTE; fully funding IDEA; maintaining funding for Title II for professional development programs and issues specific to our schools in Michigan. Members also gave each Congressperson a copy of MASB's latest edition of LeaderBoard, for further insight into some of the issues facing Michigan school board members. Check out MASB's Facebook page for photos from the events.

NSBA and MASB Government Relations staff will continue to represent your needs to our policymakers in D.C., but don’t forget your voice also needs to be heard. Making sure Congresspeople hear directly from constituents, especially those elected within their community, about the real effects of decisions made in Washington is key to building support for our cause.

Contact information for all of the Michigan members of Congress is available on the MASB E-Vocate site under "Find Your Elected Official" and we encourage you to make a difference by picking up the phone or emailing a message to your member of Congress.

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