School Boards on the Hill

Each winter, about 750 school board members attend NSBA’s Federal Relations Network (FRN) Conference in Washington, D.C. Participants, who are chosen by their state school boards associations, spend two days in sessions learning about current federal legislative issues and trends, then head to Capitol Hill for meetings with their congressional representatives and staff.

In this all-important election year, ASBJ sent four editors to follow delegations from Ohio, Georgia, Montana, and Texas and write about local advocacy at work. NSBA’s top priorities for 2012 are to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and to ensure that federal K-12 funding increases by at least $1 billion each for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Title I.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, a Pennsylvania Republican who spoke at a luncheon meeting during the conference, emphasized the importance of constituents coming to Washington to inform him and other members of issues schools face.

“There are an overwhelming number of issues that Congress has to deal with,” he said. “I work very hard to educate myself, and surround myself with a very good staff, but there are limitations to that. That’s why it’s important that you’re here, because the experts in education are not to be found in Washington.”

Here’s what the local experts had to say, and what they learned in the process.

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