Joint Letter Sent to Congress on Principals Appropriations Priorities

AFSA, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) sent a joint letter to the House and Senate appropriations leaders. The letter expresses concern over proposed cuts to education funding bills and urges Congress to support and recognize the role of principals.

Read the letter below:


Dear Chairman Blunt, Ranking Member Murray, Chairman Cole, and Ranking Member DeLauro:

The American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)—which collectively represent principals and other school leaders in the nation’s 115,000 elementary, middle, and high schools—are writing to express our grave concerns regarding the proposed cuts to Title II, A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in both the Senate and House Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Education (LHHS-Ed) funding bills, and the proposed elimination of the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program (SLRSP) in the House LHHS-Ed bill.

As you work together to finalize appropriations for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 2017), we strongly urge you to recognize the critical importance of investing in our nation’s school leaders. While leading research substantiates that teachers have the greatest influence on student achievement, many studies validate the importance of the role of the principal. Principals are recognized for their ability to influence a variety of factors that positively affect schools. They indirectly affect student outcomes by recognizing and supporting teachers, but they also directly influence schools by creating high-functioning learning environments. The evidence about successful schools is clear: A great teacher makes a great classroom, but only a principal can lead a school’s success and sustain long-term improvements.

FY 2017 is an especially critical year, as states and school districts across the nation will be working to implement the requirements of ESSA for the first time. In order to ensure ESSA is implemented successfully, it is vital that our nation’s school leaders – those ultimately responsible for the law’s implementation – are afforded the full support they need. Therefore, investing in the following programs is essential, and we ask that you fund them at the maximum levels possible.

Title II, Part A

Research has shown that effective school leadership is second only to instruction as a factor in raising student achievement. However, a 2013 report from the US Department of Education on “The Use of Funds Under Title II” of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), shows that only 4% of federal dollars are spent on principal professional development. This is extremely troubling as Title II acts as the primary federal program to improve educator performance. As the roles and responsibilities of school leaders continue to expand, principals must be afforded additional opportunities for professional learning and growth as they work to improve teaching and learning in all schools.

Section 2101(c)(3) of ESSA denotes a critical permissive use of three percent of the state allotment total amount reserved for state level activities to support recruitment, preparation and provide on-going support for principals. However, if funding for Title II, Part A is not increased, it will be very difficult for states to take advantage of this new set-aside specifically for school leadership activities.

We thank and appreciate the Senate LHHS-Ed bill for including report language that asks the Department of Education to issue guidance informing states they can use Title II, A funds to support principals and provide much needed job specific professional development to aid them in successfully completing their plethora and ever increasing duties as school leaders, and we urge Congress to fund Title II, Part A at no less than the ESSA authorization level of $2.295 billion for FY 2017.

School Leader Recruitment and Support Program

The School Leader Recruitment and Support Program (SLRSP), formerly the School Leadership Program, is the only federal program dedicated to recruiting, mentoring, and training principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders to serve in high-need schools. However, this program has seen decreased funding since FY 2012, hamstringing efforts to recruit, train, and develop effective school leaders to implement new federal, state, and local requirements. The SLRSP was strengthened in ESSA by providing aspiring principals with a pre-service residency that would last for at least one year along with focused coursework on instructional leadership, organizational management, and the use of data to inform instruction.

We were extremely disappointed to see the elimination of SLRSP in the House LHHS-Ed bill, as this will severely hamstring local efforts to recruit, train, and develop effective school leaders to implement new federal, state, and local requirements.

Therefore, we urge Congress to fund SLRSP at no less than $30 million for FY 2017 and support school leaders at a time when the demands placed on their instructional leadership capacity have never been greater.

We recognize the challenges you face in crafting a final appropriations measure for FY 17. However, we hope you will consider the critical juncture our nation’s school districts are facing, as they will work to implement new requirements under ESSA. And, we hope you will also consider the potential harm an under-investment in our nation’s school leaders would cause.

A lack of support at this time will only result in detrimental effects on our nation’s young people, our economy, and ultimately our global competitiveness. Thank you for your consideration of our requests, and we hope we can count on your support to fund these critical investments in our nation’s school leaders, the schools they lead, and most importantly the children they serve.


JoAnn D. Bartoletti, Executive Director, NASSP

Gail Connelly, Executive Director, NAESP

Diann Woodard, President, AFSA