July 10th through the 13th was the AASA Federal Advocacy conference. Under the leadership of David Schuler, this event has a new format with more opportunities for regional representatives to connect and provide guidance to the organization. This was evidenced throughout this three-day conference.
One of the first action items was to review the AASA belief and position statements. Members of Region 3 met to review the following items, Public Education is the Cornerstone of Democracy and a Civil Right, Getting Children Ready for Success in School, Vouchers and Tuition Tax Credits, Public School Choice and Charter Schools, School Finance Systems Focused on Proficiency for All Students, Local Funding, and Unfunded Mandates. Despite the relative geographic similarities in our region, there were wide-ranging opinions on some of these items. Some states have recently adopted robust Tuition Tax Credits, causing those leaders to be cautious about taking a bold stance on that topic, for example. In the end, the group was able to come to a consensus on most of these topics and provide a large group update.
AASA also provided updates on several areas of interest for school leaders. One area that every Minnesota school leader needs to be aware of is the discrepant funding between states for Special Education Reimbursement. This formula was adjusted around the year 2000 and includes a hold harmless clause from that time and new calculations. Minnesota receives about one-third the funding per pupil as some other states. The difference is about $2,000 more per pupil between Minnesota and some of the states that are in the top quartile. Imagine the impact those funds would have on our students. This was an important takeaway and something to consider when talking to our federal representatives.
This conference also included updates on US Supreme Court rulings and potential cases, a forecast of public education funding, many discussions about cybersecurity, and an update about the school meal program.
This team did our best to share information with our elected officials in a manner that will benefit us locally.
The AASA Executive Committee will meet in late September to conduct a six-month check-in with our new Director. Don’t forget to sign up for the AASA National Conference on Education in February in San Diego.
View your AASA Governing Board Members online here: www.mnasa.org/mn-aasa-governing-board.