The Advocate, July 2015
AASA, The School Superintendents Association
Over two hundred superintendents, including members of AASA’s Executive Committee and Governing Board, gathered in Washington DC earlier this month to take part in this year’s Advocacy Conference. The Association of School Business Officials International partnered with AASA this year and a number of School Business Officials were in attendance, including John Musso, ASBO’s Executive Director.
Last year’s Advocacy Conference occurred while the Federal Communications Commission was considering major revisions to the E-Rate Program. Our superintendents charged Capitol Hill and met with their Congressional Representatives as well as with FCC Commissioners and their staffs. That advocacy effort proved very successful as later on in the year we saw major changes to the E-Rate program and an unprecedented increase of $1.5 billion to the E-Rate cap.
We are hoping that our efforts this year will match, and perhaps exceed, last year’s E-Rate results. At the same time that our superintendents were in town, both the House and the Senate were considering the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Just several weeks before, eight of my fellow Association heads and I had held an unprecedented press conference in Washington DC urging Congress to put kids first and reauthorize ESEA. The group included the two teacher unions, the school boards, the two principal groups, the state chiefs, the PTA and the business officials. At the time it appeared that Congress was busy dealing with all other issues except the needs of our children.
The news that both chambers would take up the bill at the same time, and while our Advocacy Conference was going on, made for a perfect advocacy storm. No less than two senators, four representatives and one FCC commissioner attended our standing room only legislative breakfast. The two senators were Alexander and Murray, the protagonists in ushering a bipartisan bill through the Senate.
Superintendents were all over Capitol Hill that day meeting with their Congressional delegations. That afternoon we received news that the House had passed their version of the bill and the Senate was moving along productively.