Little Rock, AR--February 6, 2014--Arkansas School Boards Association (ASBA) board members joined more than 750 school board and state school boards association leaders in Washington to advocate for strong public schools for all students. President Jerry Don Woods of Dardanelle, President-elect Steve Percival of Fayetteville and Vice President Brenda McKown of Beebe were in Washington, DC, to take part in the National School Boards Association's (NSBA) new Advocacy Institute, held February 2-4, 2014. 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 our students are well prepared for college and careers in today's rapidly changing global economy," said Woods. "As school board members, the NSBA Advocacy Institute helped us learn about emerging federal and national issues and the importance of adding our local expertise to the conversations in Washington to ensure that new policies are beneficial to all of our students." Resources and funding are significant concerns for local districts. School districts have recently seen cuts in their federal and state budgets because of across- the-board cuts last year through the process known as sequestration. In a day-long visit to Capitol Hill, school board leaders asked Congress to accelerate investments in public education that support local efforts to continue to raise student achievement and appropriate full funding for Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates. School board members are also keeping a close eye on federal intrusion and overreach that has impacted local school district policy and programs in ways that have been beyond the specific intent of law. NSBA has has worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce "The Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act," H.R. 1386, which recognizes the benefits of local school district governance and ensures that maximum local flexibility and decision-making are not eroded through the U.S. Department of Education actions. "Local school boards understand the needs of their communities and schools and work to serve the best interests of our school districts," said Percival. "We need Congress and the U.S. Department of Education to work with us to ensure all students are receiving the best education we can provide." School board members also urged their senators to pass the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The House version, H.R. 5, contains elements of The Local Governance and Felxibility Act, and was passed last summer. Founded in 1940, NSBA is a not-for-profit organization representing state associations of school boards and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Working with and through our state associations, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA is online at www.nsba.org.