Anthony Figueroa, Melissa ISD School Board vice-president, joined more than 750 school board members and state boards association leaders in Washington, D.C. to advocate for strong public schools for all students.

Figueroa was in Washington to take part in the National School Boards Association’s new Advocacy Institute, held Feb. 2-4. The focus of the NSBA Advocacy Institute centers on building year-round advocates for public education and local school governance in public, legal, and legislative arenas. School board members engage in NSBA’s Federal Relations Network, a national grassroots legislative effort that urges members of the U.S. Congress to make public education a top priority.

"We need strong public schools to ensure that our students are well prepared for college and careers in today’s rapidly changing global economy", said Figueroa. "As school board members, NSBA’s Advocacy Institute helped me learn about emerging federal and national issues and the importance of adding our local expertise to the conversations in Washington to ensure that policies are beneficial to all of our students".

In a day-ling visit to Capitol Hill, Figueroa met with U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn (Senate minority whip), and met with members of the United States House of Representatives and their staffers; Congressman Dr. Michael Burgess (26th congressional district) and Congressman Sam Johnson’s office (3rd congressional district). During their discussions, Figueroa urged members of Congress to fully restore local flexibility to school districts struggling to comply with certain provisions under the child nutrition reauthorization of 2012, reauthorize of the Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA) based on input from local school boards across the nation (House version, H.R. 5), increase federal funding for Title 1 and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act), to co-sponsor NSBA’s bill, Local Board Governance and Flexibility Act, H.R. 1386, and to support local districts to voluntarily establish and maintain preschool programs aligned with local school district expectations under a separate funding stream.

"It was a wonderful opportunity to understand and advocate for the reduction of federal intrusion and overreach that has impacted local school district policy and programs in ways that have been beyond the specific intent of the law," said Figueroa of the overall experience. "We need Congress and the U.S. Department of Education to work with us to ensure that all students are receiving the best education we can provide."