This summer, we at NSBA joined our state association member leadership at our annual Summer Leadership Seminar. The meeting, hosted by NSBA 2023-24 President Kristi Swett, was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Swett is a board member. It was an opportunity for state association leaders to speak with peers on leadership topics and leadership core competencies.

Solving the challenges facing state association education leaders and local school board members and their districts was at the forefront of the agenda at this meeting. Our members worked to refine our federal advocacy priorities for the upcoming year. NSBA’s extensive federal advocacy experience and ability to form partnerships with other national education advocacy groups will be needed to push these issues forward. When school board members speak with one voice, we are a powerful force for good for our students and our communities.

Here are some highlights of our federal advocacy agenda. You’ll be seeing more about our agenda in the pages of this magazine as we take a deep dive into how school boards, their districts, and communities are grappling with these issues.

Prioritizing student mental health: NSBA urges Congress to approve greater and sustained federal resources that expand access to mental health services and support comprehensive wraparound services to schools. These should include a range of community resources to address safety and intervention. NSBA also has urged Congress and the Biden administration to provide increased funding and additional resources to support local school districts’ efforts to address students’ mental health, safety, and social needs.

Addressing learning recovery: NSBA supports efforts to ensure student performance is appropriately and accurately measured. Policies and procedures should be established to ensure that, over time, curriculum, instruction, state and local standards, and assessments remain aligned with outcomes focused on each child's specific needs.

Supporting increased funding for staffing needs: NSBA urges Congress to help address staff shortages in school districts across the country by retaining federal policies to provide loan forgiveness for teachers and principals who serve in public schools, encourage the simplification and transparency of the loan application process, and oppose predatory collection processes. Every student deserves an exceptional teacher, and we urge this support with local control fully supported in implementation and policy. 

Promoting digital equity: NSBA continues to call for at least $12 billion that is needed to close the homework gap, which affects millions of students who lack access to broadband connectivity and/or hardware for online classes, research, and homework assignments. NSBA believes subsidies for the homework gap should be distributed through the Universal Service Fund’s Schools and Libraries Program (E-rate) administered by the Federal Communications Commission.

You can participate in our advocacy efforts by attending the 2024 Advocacy Institute, Jan. 28 to 30, in Washington, D.C. The Advocacy Institute brings together education leaders to explore and discuss the latest developments in key education policy and legislation, champion the interests of public K-12 students, advocate for education priorities and federal policies, and network with colleagues from across the country. It also offers opportunities for school board members to meet their federal representatives on Capitol Hill. Registration information is online at

Verjeana McCotter-Jacobs is NSBA's executive director and CEO.

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