Meeting with Elected Officials: An Obligation to Advocate for Education

Guest post by Brad Seamer

All principals are proud of their schools. Why shouldn’t we be? We dedicate a tremendous amount of time and effort to providing the best possible learning environment for all of our students. We work closely with the amazing teachers on our staff to provide an essential education for young people to be successful and productive citizens.

As proud principals, I believe we have an obligation to share our success stories with our elected officials at the state level and in Washington, D.C.

Obligation, you ask? Yes, an obligation to stand up for public education and share the good work you are doing. An obligation to tell your elected officials why they should support education every chance they get and provide us with the necessary resources to provide for the learning needs of our students.

Photo by Regina Ball

Photo by Regina Ball

I have made four trips to Capitol Hill advocating for principals on behalf of NASSP, and I consider every trip an honor and a privilege to be representing my fellow educators and sharing the positive news of public education. I have often wondered if these meetings produced any measurable results or if I was simply part of another photo PR opportunity for my members of Congress. However, after four visits to the Hill, I see the value of these meetings and I understand why all educators need to advocate on behalf of education.

The key is building a working relationship with your members of Congress and sharing your story with them—every educator has a positive story about working with children that needs to be shared.

For example, after meeting with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) for the fourth time in five years, I was able to continue our previous conversation and share information from my district that gave him and his staff specific data on why failing to reauthorize ESEA and sequester caps have negatively affected my school. I stressed to him that now is the time to pass a robust education bill that supports our public schools and to remove the sequester caps to restore full federal funding to education.

I also shared positive stories of our efforts to create customized learning opportunities for our students. I ended the meeting by extending him an open invitation to visit my school and see the good work that we are doing. I will follow up our face-to-face meeting with emails to his staff, providing additional information on key legislation that NASSP is working on to improve education in our country.

Continuous communication with our elected officials is necessary to provide them with the essential information they need to truly understand the needs of our public schools.

If we don’t advocate for public education and the children in our schools, who will? If we don’t share our story with members of Congress, nobody will—and the negative forces working against public education will win.

Our profession is under constant scrutiny and lawmakers on the state and federal levels need to hear the entire story. Public education is the backbone of our country and it needs to be supported by every lawmaker in our country.

Please join me in advocating for education and share your stories of success.

Brad Seamer serves on the NASSP Board of Directors and is the secondary principal of McCook Central Schools in Salem, SD.

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