The two state school boards associations that earned the 2022 Leading Edge award showcase the exemplary work of NSBA members. Following an exceptionally challenging year, this recognition highlights the tireless work of state and local leaders to provide an equitable and excellent public education for all students.
The Indiana School Boards Association (ISBA) was recognized for its Legislative Action Network (LAN) and the Virginia School Boards Association for its Task Force on Students and Schools in Challenging Environments.
“The pandemic put a spotlight on the important role and incredibly difficult decisions that education leaders had to make,” says NSBA interim Executive Director and CEO Chip Slaven. “State associations stepped up to support their members, as evidenced by ISBA and VSBA’s excellent work to ensure the school board voice is heard in state capitals.”
Established in 2018, NSBA’s Leading Edge Award recognizes its member state school boards associations for innovative services that support the work of school boards and districts in their states.
Nearly 150 bills on K-12 education are introduced every session of the Indiana General Assembly. ISBA’s Legislative Action Network (LAN) provides its 1,700 members with the tools, resources, and messaging so they can help influence the outcomes of the legislative session.
LAN started as part of the association’s 2018 strategic plan to strengthen its advocacy efforts. The board of directors “felt it was time that we elevated our efforts to provide visibility and more influence at the State House on a regular basis,” says Executive Director Terry Spradlin.
ISBA asks each of the state’s 290 school boards to designate a legislative liaison. Those liaisons, says Spradlin, help coordinate advocacy efforts and share guidance and strategies with their board colleagues, administrators, and the school community.
These school board member legislative liaisons play a crucial role. ISBA employs two registered lobbyists (Spradlin and General Counsel Lisa Tanselle) who are at the statehouse daily when the legislature is in session. But lawmakers also need to hear from their constituents to help them understand the impact of the bills they are considering. “Much is at stake in today's environment politically and socially,” Spradlin says. “And if we don't stand up to support and defend public education, who will?”