The AASA Governing Board met on Wednesday, February 15, ahead of the National Conference on Education. During this full-day meeting, representatives from Region 3 had the opportunity to spend time together in a breakout session to discuss some topics of importance to AASA and provide feedback. The primary topic was to provide input on the AASA Legislative Agenda.
For those who haven’t spent time with this document, it is lengthy and covers many items that might not be a priority or area of interest locally. During this discussion, we shared that AASA must be ready for any of these topics to surface and have a position on the topic. For most Region 3 leaders, this was a novel concept and is the reason I am including it for our MASA membership. While AASA has priority bills that they work on during the session, like fully funding special education or addressing Title IX funding challenges while we revise how families apply for financial support, there are always other topics that come up. I encourage members to review the laundry lists of items on the AASA legislative agenda and determine which are locally important. With this information, you could share feedback with the MASA Federal Advocacy committee.
Another high-priority item from AASA was the “Parent’s Bill of Rights.” This topic has surfaced locally too but could be much more impactful if it was enacted at the national level. The AASA response has been that almost every facet of this proposed legislation already exists in statute. This is another topic worthy of review at the state level but also nationally when articles from AASA come out.
The final item that our group spent significant time discussing was the role that schools play in supporting community mental health. Region 3 representatives shared perspectives about whether schools should be the first line of support for mental health crises or a place that can help students find community support and transition students back from a more therapeutic setting. As federal and state elected officials continue to allocate funding to schools to support students’ mental health needs, we need to be consistent about what we are able and expected to provide.
Dan Bittman (Elk River), Jeff Elstad (Owatonna), Chris Mills (Stephen Argyle), Craig Oftedahl (Luverne), and David Law (Minnetonka) are fortunate to be representing all of you in these discussions and welcome your feedback ahead of our July legislative advocacy session.
You can find contact information for your AASA Governing Board members online at: www.mnasa.org/mn-aasa-governing-board.