SBOE Director Shares Best Practices to Engage State Policymakers

Leadership Exchange for Adolescent Health Promotion

By: John-Paul Hayworth, Executive Director

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure to serve as a panelist at the first in-person convening of the Leadership Exchange for Adolescent Health Promotion (LEAHP) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Our State Board of Education (SBOE) developed and approved some of the most comprehensive health education standards in the country in 2017, so it was a great opportunity to share our story with five state teams of government education and health officials, non-profit leaders, and practitioners and collaborate with them to address adolescent health in three priority areas: sexual health education, sexual health services, and safe and supportive environments. D.C. has one of the five teams in this first cohort of the LEAHP project (others are Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin).

The panel I was a part of focused on how to work with state and local policymakers to develop policy systems in which all students can thrive and have what they need to be safe, healthy and supported in school. Panelists shared best practices, common challenges and strategies to overcome them, and real-world success stories. I spoke about how to initiate, foster and maintain relationships with policymakers and their staff. We also discussed the “ick factor” that can limit or stymie vital conversations around topics that are uncomfortable for some people including sexual activity, mental health and LGBTQ issues. 

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Teacher Retention Top of Mind at ECS National #EdPolicy Forum

ECS National Forum on Education Policy 2019

By: John-Paul Hayworth, Executive Director

Attracting and retaining teachers who are not only qualified, but good, is a problem in every state. At this year’s National Forum on Education Policy earlier this month in Denver, Colorado, delegates heard presentations on teacher retention and credentialing, new ideas on career and technical education and insights from teachers of the year.  

One of the biggest topics discussed by the executive directors of state boards of education across the country was how each state was attempting to tackle the problem of losing good teachers. We talked about how higher salaries were important, but that research (and teachers directly) had shown that the biggest impact on a teacher leaving a school is the support they get from the leadership and their peers.  

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) began in 1965 with the adoption of the Compact for Education by Congress. ECS serves as an education research and policy reporting body for all the states, territories and the District of Columbia. The President of the State Board of Education is a Commissioner of ECS. For the past three years, ECS has utilized grant funding to also bring together the executive directors from state boards of education across the country to compare notes and strategize on policy problems. 

The Forum left me feeling hopeful for education policy across the nation and with some new and innovative ideas that might work for the District of Columbia.