county boards
Capitol Hill to advocate for California schools and students
County Perspective
County Board leaders advocate for education in Washington, D.C.
California was well represented at NSBA’s national advocacy event, with 16 board members attending, including eight county board members, who traveled to Capitol Hill to advocate for California schools and students. Dana Dean, California County Boards of Education President, and Rick Shea, CCBE vice-president, reported back on their efforts.

Dana Dean: “In Congress, we met with our representatives to share the importance of modernizing and fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. We also discussed the importance of updating the Higher Education Act to include real, substantial funding for more and better teacher training to help stem the growing teacher shortage.

From my view, we were very well received, as was our message. I visited directly with Rep. Mike Thompson, Rep. John Garamendi, and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, as well as all their chiefs of staff and education-focused legislative staff. I also had a chance to call on Rep. Eric Swalwell’s chief of staff, Alex Evans.

The most heartening part of the experience was to see how earnestly engaged and knowledgeable the folks on the Hill were about the details of the issues involved. In one example, the day before our visit, the California team worked hard to explore and pull together exact figures and other details on the teacher shortage in our state. When my colleague, Gina Cuclis, president of the Sonoma County Office of Education, and I later spoke with Rep. Thompson, the Congressman, too, had the same very facts and figures on teaching shortages. It was so great to be able to delve into the discussion with a legislator who already had a sophisticated understanding of our topics and their practical importance.”

Rick Shea: “I stressed the importance of reauthorizing IDEA and/or boosting federal funding in meetings with members of Congress and their staff involved with the Education Committee.

Congressional staff indicated support for fixing IDEA but were less forthcoming on committing to its reauthorization. They were, however, supportive of looking into fixing some of its shortfalls.

San Diego-area Congressional representatives were also open to visiting some of our county programs in San Diego. This type of relationship building will reap benefits to us.

I found that meeting with these representatives and their staff during their first week back was definitely beneficial for raising the profile of county offices of education and students at the federal level.”