Capitol Hill Recognizes National School Psychology Week and the of School Psychologists

Article excerpt

In honor of National School Psychology Week, the NASP Government and Professional Relations (GPR) and Communications committees and NASP staff joined forces on a campaign to help elected officials on Capitol Hill learn about the positive contributions of school psychologists and how our services impact student mental health and learning. This advocacy campaign involved creating a federal resolution recognizing National School Psychology Awareness Week and soliciting bipartisan sponsors and cosponsors in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in support ofthe resolution.

The effort culminated in passage of the resolutions and the sponsoring of a bicameral, bipartisan Congressional briefing, "Positive School Climate, Student Wellness, and Improved Academic Achievement: Bringing Out the Best in Students and Schools" held in Washington, DC on November io, 2009. The briefing was sponsored by NASP in cooperation with Senator Lincoln (AR), Senator Cochran (MS), Representative Loebsack (IA-2), and Representative Ehlers (MI-3).

Kathy Minke, NASP president-elect, and Terry Molony, NASP delegate from New Jersey and Positive Psychology Interest Group chair, and elementary school principal Kwame Morton presented on behalf of NASP. Their statements, transcripts of which are presented below, strongly conveyed the importance of creating positive school environments that create high expectations and build on students' strengths to promote academic achievement.

Additional information about the briefing, resolution, and other aspects of this advocacy effort are available at http://www.nasponline.org/advocacy/briefing_111009.aspx.

Remarks by Kathleen Minke

Good morning. My name is Kathleen Minke and I am Acting Director ofthe School of Education at the University of Delaware and President-Elect ofthe National Association of School Psychologists. I am most appreciative ofthe opportunity to speak with you this morning. Meeting the needs ofthe whole child is critical to bringing out the best in schools and students. It is encouraging that Congress is seriously considering these issues for inclusion in federal education policy and law. Thank you again to Senators Lincoln and Cochran, Representatives Loebsack and Ehlers, and their staffs for helping to lead this effort.

I have had the privilege of being a school psychologist for 25 years, working with kids, families, and schools in four states. For most of my career, I have been engaged in the study ofthe connections between families and schools. This work has shown me the powerful influence positive relationships between families and educators can have on students' school success. When schools reach out and successfully engage families, children do better academically and socially.

Family-school collaboration and other factors contributing to positive, competent schools and students are not ancillary to the mission of education but are central to it. They also are tightly intertwined, both relying on and contributing to each other. And, although it may feel counterintuitive, positive environments and partnerships do not occur - and are certainly not sustained - by happenstance. They require intentionality, training, commitment, and monitoring.

Moreover, it is the responsibility of schools to reach out to families and begin the process of developing these partnerships. This is as central an obligation as ongoing school improvement. In fact, it is a key feature of successful schools.

When parents and other caregivers are engaged in their children's education, there are substantial benefits for children, families, and schools (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001) . Children whose parents are engaged show more positive attitudes toward school, do better with homework, and show higher achievement in reading than similar children whose parents are not engaged. Parents and other caregivers become more confident of their ability to help their children succeed and they develop more positive views of teachers and schools. …