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The Oriole

The student newspaper of Augusta High School

The Oriole

The student newspaper of Augusta High School

The Oriole

Principal advocates in Washington, D.C. for bills affecting schools, education

Photo courtesy Rick Rivera
Clifton-Clyde Middle School Principal Eric Sacco, Washington Elementary School Principal John Benfort, Principal Rick Rivera, Kansas Principals Association Executive Director Cara Ledy and Andover Central Middle School Principal Leslianne Craft take a picture in front of the Capitol Building during Capitol Hill Day. The principals and executive director met with legislators, representatives and other principals to discuss and advocate for a variety of legislative bills affecting schools, students, teachers and education.

Principal Rick Rivera, as the National Association for Secondary School Principals (NASSP) State Coordinator for the Kansas Principals Association (KPA), traveled to Washington, D.C. with other members of KPA, including the KPA Executive Director and the KPA National Association for Elementary School Principals (NAESP) State Coordinator.

“I get the chance to go to D.C. and advocate some of the education bills that we want legislators to pass,” Rivera said. “It gives us a chance, as principals, to be involved in our government.”

Part of Rivera’s responsibilities as NASSP State Coordinator is to meet with principals from around the country and discuss the NAESP-NASSP Federal Legislative Agenda.

“Before going to Capitol Hill Day, our board takes time making sure all the principals understand the legislative agenda, and that everyone understands the organization’s stance,” Rivera said. “That way it doesn’t matter if you are a principal from Hawaii or Kansas, everyone has the same stance.”

Having the same stance allows the group to focus their conversations with senators and representatives.

“When talking about our legislative agenda, we always keep it bipartisan and neutral,” Rivera said. “We are focusing on bettering education rather than the Republican or Democratic side.”

The legislative agenda for NASSP covered topics from educator shortages, student mental health and budget, but Rivera supported certain bills more than the rest.

“A couple of the bills I really liked, such as any of the student mental health bills or the Protecting Kids on Social Media Act,” Rivera said. “They are all about keeping students safe, especially with what data online companies are allowed to take from minors.”

For Rivera, the trip was an opportunity to affect bills Congress passed.

“I absolutely enjoyed getting the chance to go and meet with our legislators and representatives, and get the chance to put my input on the bills we want to see passed,” Rivera said.

Rivera liked the idea of the trip providing normal people a gateway to the legislative branch of government.

“This trip is not only a chance for us principals to advocate for changes we want to see, but it also allows those in Congress to see what they have impacted,” Rivera said. “It gives them a chance to see the impact on schools, teachers and students.”

Rivera wants this trip to also be a way for Congress to see the impact.

“Having that input on these bills from principals allows those in Congress to get a first-hand look at what they are exactly impacting,” Rivera said.

However, Rivera not only showed the impact to Congress, but also talked about current school problems.

“Being able to talk to a bunch of different principals and representatives also allowed me the chance to learn more about the problems plaguing every school, chronic absenteeism, student mental health, and teacher shortages, and what we can do to solve these problems,” Rivera said.

Rivera understands these problems affect Augusta.

“It’s all about looking at how these problems affect our school, and focusing on what the root of the problem is,” Rivera said.”Then we can focus on potential ways of solving them.”

The trip also allowed Rivera to gain a sense of how important it is to focus on bettering education.

“When it comes to advocating for more funds for school, we want to make sure that we are actually using those funds for the things we’re asking for,” Rivera said. “It doesn’t do good for education to get a whole bunch of money, and then never use it.”

Rivera appreciates that principals are allowed the chance to participate in the trip.

“This trip is more about how we can be more actively engaged in what is happening around us in terms of education,” Rivera said. “We could simply complain about our government or we can go to D.C. and actually talk to legislators and representatives about what we want to see changed.”

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About the Contributor
Justin Gwaltney
Justin Gwaltney, Editor-in-Chief
Senior Justin Gwaltney is The Oriole Editor-in-Chief. This is Gwaltney’s second year leading the staff. He joined staff in the second semester of his freshman year, so this is his third and a half year writing for The Oriole. He joined the staff as he always loves writing stories, so allowing him to also present information about our school to the community was a win-win situation. He enjoys playing 2nd bass drum for the drumline and competing with his friends on the scholars bowl team. Some big accomplishments for Gwaltney include achieving Eagle Scout, as well as memorizing 100 digits of pi. In the future, he hopes to become an English educator for the high school level, in order to inspire and teach future generations.
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