AFSA Seeks Improvements in Strengthening America’s Schools Act

In December 2013, AFSA delivered a letter to the full Senate outlining the union’s general position on the major provisions of the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 (SASA) legislation that would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The letter also included more detailed recommendations for principal evaluation and training.

While voicing support for many of the initiatives included in the Senate’s answer to reauthorizing ESEA, the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 (SASA), the letter expressed concern over the legislation’s lack of input from school leaders.

“We feel strongly that greater input from principals is a must if this law is going to reach its intended goals,” said AFSA President Diann Woodard. “In the past, SASA has relied heavily on teacher and superintendent input, while essentially ignoring the input of principals who are the operational leaders of our schools. If we want to see progress in our public schools, this needs to change.”

Included with the letter were AFSA’s recommendations for effective principal evaluation and training and a call for an increase in evidence-based assessments and clearly defined rubrics for principal evaluations.

Although SASA does not appear to be scheduled for a vote in the Senate imminently, more input from school leaders is critical for successful legislation. When SASA was passed out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions last June, it was adopted with the caveat that if and when the bill reaches the floor of the Senate for a vote, there would be an open amendment process. AFSA is hopeful Senate offices sharing a commitment to making SASA work will consider our positions and recommendations.

The initial response from Senate offices has been positive; the union has received several responses indicating that its input and recommendations will be considered. AFSA continues to be in contact with these offices and will continue to work toward implementing the potential amendments and recommendations for the bill.

The letter and recommendations can be read at http://AFSAadmin.org/afsa-recommendations-for-principal-evaluation-and-principal-training/.