State of the Union Impacting School Leaders

President Biden’s State of the Union address last week served as a crucial window into the workings of our government in Washington, D.C., offering voters insight into current affairs while sketching a vision for future policies and plans. While the president addressed critical issues impacting us all as school leaders, there are specific matters within our communities that merit attention and update.

Being part of AFSA brings not only local representation, but also the strength of a team of dedicated experts working tirelessly on federal issues within the Legislative and Executive branches of government. Our government relations team tirelessly advocates on your behalf, ensuring your concerns are heard and considered. 

This year, we’ve seen unprecedented engagement from the Biden administration, affording us a significant seat at the policymaking table and the opportunity for regular input.

You can make a difference—get involved in our government relations by building relationships with your representative and senators. Send them notes regularly, invite them to your schools and highlight the great work going on in your community. If you want to take the next step, reach out to us at and join our legislative effort.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the key federal initiatives AFSA’s been involved in this year:

  • Title II-A  Collaborating closely with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, AFSA has mobilized grassroots efforts to safeguard funding for the $2.19 billion Title II-A professional development program. More than half of all states utilize Title II-A funds for specialized principal and school leader training. This attention to school leader and principal needs and skills helps reduce attrition and attract budding educators to enter the principal pipeline. With the House of Representatives proposing to eliminate funding for this program entirely, our advocacy has never been more vital. 
  • Title IV-A  AFSA now holds a leadership role within the coalition supporting the $1.38 billion flexible block grant program, which has been instrumental in funding student mental health initiatives, well-rounded academic programs and educational technology.
  • Mental Health  We continue to advocate for increased federal funding for student mental health initiatives while providing resources to our members, such as last year’s webinar on fostering a supportive mental health environment in schools. 
  • E-Rate  AFSA spearheads the Education and Libraries Networks Coalition (EdLiNC) and the Homework Gap Coalition, which successfully secured more than $7 billion in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act to provide home internet connectivity for millions of students and educators. Additionally, we’re advocating for E-Rate funds to be utilized for Wi-Fi hotspots for home connectivity, and our efforts led to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) decision to permit E-Rate funds for providing Wi-Fi on school buses.
  • Cybersecurity  AFSA has been instrumental in urging the FCC to launch a three-year, $200 million cybersecurity pilot program. This initiative aims to assess the efficacy and costs of providing federal support for cybersecurity technologies, including advanced firewalls.
  • Anti-Semitism/Islamophobia — We facilitated a presentation to the U.S. Department of Education on best practices for addressing student education and protests concerning anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and the Middle East conflict.
  • School Violence  AFSA continues its advocacy efforts to prevent school violence, including participation in White House events and endorsing calls for gun reform through letters to policymakers. We also are investigating advocacy at the state level to enhance penalties for violence perpetrated against school personnel.
  • Social Security and Other Entitlements  AFSA launched a grassroots campaign against a congressional proposal to establish a largely unaccountable fiscal commission tasked with crafting policy recommendations for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This commission would have the power to vote on its recommendations without amendment, prompting our vigorous opposition. AFSA and others in the labor movement have been diligently advocating for the elimination of the Social Security offset, a policy that unjustly denies certain educators in select states the Social Security benefits they rightfully have earned. This offset unfairly penalizes educators by reducing or eliminating their Social Security benefits because of their participation in certain state or local pension plans.

Regardless of your political affiliation, whether you stand with the Republican or Democratic Party or find yourself an independent, AFSA stands firm in its support for elected representatives who champion the cause of public education. Moreover, we firmly stand beside those who recognize and appreciate the crucial role unions play in our society. Whether you’re advocating for better resources for schools, fair wages for educators or policies that prioritize the well-being of students, AFSA pledges its unwavering support to those who share our commitment to the advancement of education and the empowerment of educators.