School Board members meet with Obama’s education advisor

WASHINGTON, DC – Achieve a budget compromise that will spare children from damaging reductions in special education and Title funding for at-risk students was the message delivered to Congress and the White House by Kent County board members in meetings on Capitol Hill.

Carol Hillman and Laura Featherston pictured fifth and sixth from left.
Carol Hillman and Laura Featherston pictured fifth and sixth from left.

School board members from across Kent County joined with their colleagues from around the nation in the recent National School Board Association Federal Relations Network to encourage Congress to avoid across-the-board reductions in domestic spending under the sequestration of funds scheduled in March under the Budget Control Act.

Kent School Board members met with Roberto Rodriguez, education advisor to President Obama, in the Executive Office Building, to ask for education to be spared during upcoming budget negotiations. They also recommended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to be reauthorized with growth models and multiple measures of student achievement instead of reliance on a single test to assess performance as required under No Child Left Behind.

A similar message was conveyed to Speaker John Boehner’s office and to staff members of Reps. Justin Amash and Tim Walberg, Michigan’s only member on the House Education and Labor Committee.

Kent County school board members attending the conference were Tony Baker, Senita Lenear and Wendy Falb of Grand Rapids Public Schools; Brian Ellis of East Grand Rapids Public Schools; Joe Marckini of Cedar Springs Public Schools; Crystal Reidzans of Kelloggsville Public Schools; Laurie Kuna of Lowell Public Schools; Carol Hillman and Laura Featherston of Rockford Public Schools; Cindy Ordway and Dave Smith of Thornapple Public Schools; and Andrea Haidle and Steve Zinger of Kent ISD.

Zinger, who serves as president of the Michigan Association of School Boards, said it is important for Congress to hear directly from their constituents. “With the looming reductions in school funding through the Budget Control Act and the urgent need to reauthorize ESEA, it is essential local school board members express their concerns,” Zinger said. “Every other group is advocating for their issues and we would be letting our children down if we didn’t let our Congress members know how important these programs are for students.”

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