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May 18, 2022
ASCD Blog

ASCD Outlines Federal Policy Recommendations

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Legislative agenda emphasizes whole child education.
Policy
ASCD Outlines Federal Policy Recommendations
Credit: images/shutterstock
Introduced to educators in a webinar on May 5 by ASCD Board President Avis Williams, the 2022 legislative agenda emphasizes the policy supports and resources schools need to recover from pandemic-related challenges. The recommendations, developed by ASCD’s legislative committee, are organized by the five whole child tenets: healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.  

ASCD Legislative Agenda

Read the full legislative agenda (PDF).

5 Key Takeaways

1. Prioritizing Students’ Health 

The pandemic has underscored the importance of students’ physical and mental health to their development and academic success. As studies show, prolonged remote instruction took a toll on students in the form of anxiety, depression, anger, and isolation. To help address these issues, the ASCD legislative agenda calls for three specific actions: 
  • A full-time nurse in every school 
  • The resources for schools to attain a 250:1 school counselor to student ratio 
  • Expanded access to school wraparound services and extracurricular activities for all students.  
As middle school principal Jeff Charbonneau noted during the webinar, “we need a greater focus on mental health.” 

2. Tackling Screen Time and Social Media 

The agenda addresses the pernicious effect of social media on students. “We expect 6th graders to be PR experts about their own profile pictures, about the comments they make online . . . .  We expect them to be able to say the right thing at all times because everything they say on social media is recorded, screen-shotted, and shared with the person it wasn’t supposed to be shared with,” said Charbonneau. “It is an awful lot to expect of [adolescents].” 
The legislative agenda calls for more research into the impact screens have on student learning, behaviors, academics, and social-emotional well-being. In addition, it calls for comprehensive educator resources to teach about digital citizenship and the responsible use of social media. 

3. Strengthening the Educator Pipeline 

“School districts are not immune to the Great Resignation phenomenon,” Williams noted, which is why ASCD’s legislative agenda supports districts in ensuring they can recruit and retain top talent among teachers and leaders and increase the diversity of the workforce. The agenda calls for strategies like bolstering teacher preparation programs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs).  

4. Leveling the Playing Field 

The legislative agenda recommends full funding of both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). “If we want all students to be able to succeed, we have to be able to provide what they need to learn,” said Laurie McCullough, former executive director of Virginia ASCD.  
In addition to calling for all students to have access to broadband internet access at home, the legislative agenda seeks to make permanent the expansion of the universal school free meals program. 

5. Being Cautious About Comprehensive Assessments 

With the testing and accountability requirements of ESSA restarting (after being suspended during the public health crisis), the legislative agenda advocates for the resulting scores to be viewed in the context of the pandemic and recognized for their limitations. 
"We encourage our legislators to invest in innovative assessments that better measure growth, critical abilities, and skills while taking into account those factors that impact and influence student performance on high stakes standardized assessments," said Jamil Maroun, superintendent of Manville School District. 

Interested in learning more and getting involved in advocacy and policy?

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David Griffith is the former Senior Director of Advocacy and Government Relations. In this role, he lead ASCD's efforts to influence education decision-making at the federal, state, and local levels and the development and implementation of the association's legislative agenda. He played an instrumental role in promoting multimetric accountability and a whole child approach to education, as well as being a national speaker and resource expert on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Prior to joining ASCD, Griffith was the director of governmental and public affairs for the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Previously, he served as a congressional aide to two Representatives on Capitol Hill. In addition, he has worked on numerous political campaigns, was the legislative and grassroots coordinator for the American Arts Alliance representing the nation's leading nonprofit arts institutions, and traveled the country doing advance work for the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay.

He received his bachelor's degree from Villanova University and his master's degree in education from the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education.

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