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Feature                                                   Pages 23-29

 

Front-Line Advocacy 

Four school system leaders on working to effect legislative change and federal support

EDITOR'S NOTE: School Administrator invited four veteran school system leaders who’ve been active in legislative advocacy, often in conjunction with AASA, to describe a particular aspect of their experiences and what makes them productive players in the advocacy arena.

Turning Around an Improbable Jobs Fund

BY BARTON L. GOERING

Barton Goering

The problem: During the summer of 2010, school districts across the country reported almost daily on their plans to lay off staff because of sharp declines in aid. Hundreds of thousands of teachers’ jobs were on the line. If these losses materialized, class sizes would skyrocket and educational enrichment activities would be lost. Some districts shortened their school weeks in response to shrinking revenue.

In my Kansas school district, Spring Hill, serving three communities in the metropolitan Kansas City area, we were preparing for a severe blow to our students due to sharp budget cuts in teaching positions that would necessitate a reduction of 11.25 full-time equivalents out of a staff of 160 teachers.

As we prepared for the worst, we learned from AASA’s legislative advocacy staff about the Murray-Harkin Education Jobs Fund. The bill did not have a good chance to gain passage in the U.S. Senate, but Bruce Hunter and Noelle Ellerson of AASA immediately went to work rallying support.

The bill proposed a $10 billion fund to save teacher jobs, modeled after the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. Funding could be used for compensation, benefits and other expenses to retain current employees and hire new employees in early childhood, elementary and secondary education. An amendment prohibited use of the funding for general expenses or “rainy day” use.

READ MORE:

Front-Line Advocacy, Grimesey

Front-Line Advocacy, Smith

Front-Line Advocacy, Gooden

Bruce Hunter on AASA's message deliveryman

AASA used its legislative blog, The Leading Edge, summary reports on the association’s website, as well as meetings with and phone calls to active superintendents across the country to help us in the field inform legislators about the merits of the edujobs bill, which would forestall massive teacher layoffs nationwide. Its passage enabled Spring Hill to save 7 percent of its teaching staff.

I am convinced that without the work of the AASA advocacy staff and all the superintendents who e-mailed, called and made personal visits to their elected federal representatives, the bill would not have passed. AASA staff members took a complex and confusing bill and presented clear and concise talking points that all superintendents could use to promote its passage.

Barton Goering is superintendent of Spring Hill Unified School District 230 in Spring Hill, Kan. E-mail: goering@usd230.org

 

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