- Deb Merle
Director of Government Relations
Advocacy and Legislation
WSSDA’s advocacy program is a year-round effort to ensure the unique voice of locally elected school boards is heard by legislators and policymakers as they pass laws and make decisions affecting public schools. Our advocacy efforts are member-driven; positions on legislation are developed and approved by school directors each year to guide WSSDA leadership and staff on issues affecting public schools.
Our governmental relations team is “on the hill” every day during legislative sessions and regularly works with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Board of Education, the governor’s office, and other education organizations policymakers. In addition, school directors are actively engaged in advocacy at the local, state and federal levels through contacts with community leaders, state legislators and members of Congress.
The Association’s advocacy activities include:
Legislative Assembly: Delegates from each school board in Washington state meet every September to adopt WSSDA’s legislative agenda for the coming session. Proposals are then prioritized by the delegates, the Legislative Committee and finally by the WSSDA Board of Directors.
Legislative Conference: Held each February in Olympia, this conference helps school board Legislative Representatives hone their advocacy skills as they meet one-to-one with legislators to support proposals passed by the Legislative Assembly. This conference is held jointly with the Washington Association of School Administrators.
Legislative Reports: WSSDA provides updates during each legislative session via email and on the web in a variety of formats. The governmental relations team also produces periodic issue briefs and an annual summary to recap the actions of each session of the Legislature as they relate to K-12 education.
Advocacy Training: WSSDA’s manual Effective Advocacy for School Directors helps school board members in their role of promoting public education in their communities and at the state and federal levels. The governmental relations team also offers advocacy training during the Annual Conference and at various workshops around the state.
Federal Issues: School board representatives from every congressional district serve on the Federal Relations Network to assist the National School Boards Association in its advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C. These FRN members are in regular contact with their members of Congress throughout the year, and annually attend the NSBA’s Advocacy Institute in February.