A is for Advocacy States Work With ASHA to Pursue Salary Supplements, Reduce Caseloads and Total Workloads Grassroots 101
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Grassroots 101  |   September 01, 2003
A is for Advocacy
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School-Based Settings / Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / Grassroots 101
Grassroots 101   |   September 01, 2003
A is for Advocacy
The ASHA Leader, September 2003, Vol. 8, 1-21. doi:10.1044/leader.GR.08172003.1
The ASHA Leader, September 2003, Vol. 8, 1-21. doi:10.1044/leader.GR.08172003.1
School-based clinicians in Kansas, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia continue to reap the benefits of a partnership between their state associations and ASHA’s State Education Action Team. In Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and West Virginia, the team is helping members advocate for salary supplements for ASHA-certified school-based clinicians. In Kansas and Virginia, the team is supporting efforts to define clinicians’ caseloads in terms of total workload. The team was created as part of the 2001–2003 Focused Initiative for School-Based Programs and Services and, with the recent decision to extend the initiative, the team will continue its efforts into 2004.
Through face-to-face meetings, conference calls, and regular telephone contact, the State Education Action Team has helped the speech-language-hearing associations in these states to develop and implement strategic action plans, learn advocacy techniques, and organize grassroots networks. The following are highlights of the recent activities in each of the targeted states.
Rhode Island
Advocacy in the “Ocean State” began to pay dividends this summer as legislation passed that provides fee support to school-based speech-language pathologists pursuing their Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC). The sister bills, S.B. 217 Sub A and H.B. 5199, passed the state Senate and House of Representatives and became law on July 17.
Under the new law—a modified version of a bill proposed by the Rhode Island Speech-Language-Hearing Association (RISHA)—school-based clinicians who are pursuing their CCC can access the Rhode Island Professional Development Investment Fund to pay for national exam and application fees. This provides parity in relation to the funding available for teachers obtaining National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification.
“This is a step in the right direction to work toward achieving parity for SLPs in the schools who have earned their CCC,” said Sheryl Amaral, RISHA president, who expressed appreciation for the support of Rhode Island clinicians in getting the bills passed. “And, as we are learning how to navigate the legislative process, we can expect greater success with other issues in the future.”
Amaral, other members of the RISHA advocacy committee, RISHA’s lobbyists, and Susan Karr of the State Education Action Team met in Providence in August. They discussed their legislative and grassroots strategy for the 2004 legislative session, when they will continue efforts to obtain a salary supplement for ASHA-certified SLPs. State Sen. Hanna Gallo, an SLP who has continued to support her colleagues’ efforts, also participated in the meeting.
Legislative advocacy is a year-round effort, Amaral stressed. “It is critical to keep the momentum going,” she said. “Our advocacy team has accomplished a great deal in one year’s time. Working with ASHA’s State Education Action Team combined with our RISHA advocacy volunteers and our lobbying team has made the difference.”
Advocacy committee member Mary Jo Chretien has been instrumental in mobilizing RISHA’s grassroots network. In addition to RISHA’s advocacy and legislative successes, the association also has made headway in its media awareness campaign, thanks to Jacque Gorman, RISHA vice president and media relations co-chair. In July, Rhode Island NBC affiliate WJAR aired a segment highlighting the expanded role of SLPs. RISHA also will be featured on Oct. 6 on WJAR’s “Coffee Cup Salute,” a daily segment that highlights local organizations and events.
Kansas
To help the Kansas Speech-Language-Hearing Association (KSHA) meet its goals of implementing ASHA’s policy on caseload/workload at the local level, the State Education Action Team has been working with the association to coordinate an advocacy committee, develop a state action plan, and implement the caseload/workload initiative. In addition, Kansas will be the first state to pilot and implement a caseload/workload model, with the Harvey County Special Education Cooperative serving as the pilot school district.
To advance these goals, the first Kansas Workload Training Workshop was held in Newton in May. Larry Biehl of ASHA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Caseload Size presented on “Workload: Putting Caseload in the Proper Perspective—A Workload Analysis Approach for Establishing Speech-Language Caseload Standards in the Schools.” Biehl advocated for putting a constructive spin on caseload challenges and outlined ASHA’s policies. ASHA emphasizes that “caseload” is much more than just the number of students served; it encompasses all activities carried out on behalf of students.
On Aug. 11, 75 school-based SLPs at nine locations across Kansas watched a video of the caseload/workload workshop. The viewing was followed by a question-and-answer conference call with Biehl, ad hoc committee co-chair Annie Bird, Susan Karr, KSHA Coordinator Dixie Heinrich, and Mary Beasley, the assistant director of the Harvey County Special Education Cooperative who is spearheading the pilot study.
Members of the KSHA advocacy committee also recently met with the Kansas Department of Education, which expressed support for the statewide caseload/workload effort and offered to assist the Harvey County Special Education Cooperative—which includes the school districts of Newton, Halstead-Bentley, and Hesston—in its efforts to pilot the caseload/workload model.
The eight SLPs who cover services for the pilot district participated in the Workload Training Workshop in May. They have since focused on reviewing materials provided by ASHA, registering to collect information for the National Outcomes Measurement System (NOMS) during the pilot year, and making decisions about the direction of the project.
“SLPs need to rethink their roles and the scope of their services,” Beasley said, when asked what she hopes Kansas clinicians will learn from the pilot project. “SLPs hold the key to making the changes that will improve service to students, and ASHA will support them in their efforts to develop a grassroots initiative.”
Next month, the State Education Action Team will facilitate grassroots advocacy training at the KSHA fall convention and Kathleen Whitmire, ASHA’s director of school services, will present a follow-up session on caseload/workload implementation strategies. Other upcoming activities for KSHA’s advocacy committee include media training and ongoing collaboration with the Kansas Department of Education to facilitate the revision of the “Processes and Procedures for Assessing and Serving Students with Communication Disabilities in Kansas Schools” document to include workload language.
Virginia
The Speech and Hearing Association of Virginia’s (SHAV) campaign for lower, realistic caseloads for the state’s school-based SLPs continues. A proposed revision of the state’s Standards of Quality for public schools—approved by the Virginia Board of Education in June—includes a recommendation to reduce the maximum caseload size for school-based SLPs from 68 to 60. The board’s recommendation represents a $3-million investment in speech-language services across the state. However, all of the board’s recommended Standards of Quality revisions are still subject to approval during the Virginia General Assembly’s 2004 session, and continued advocacy by clinicians is still needed.
Virginia clinicians have already proven their ability to lobby the General Assembly. It was a SHAV-proposed budget amendment passed by an assembly conference committee in February that required the Board of Education to consider speech-language pathology caseload standards as part of its review of the Standards of Quality.
This summer, Jessica Norton, SHAV’s advocacy coordinator, worked with ASHA’s State Education Action Team to identify and contact members in key legislators’ districts. Norton and SHAV lobbyists Judy Castleman and Bet Neale stressed that continued member advocacy will be needed to get state legislators to approve the Standards of Quality revisions, including the Board of Education’s caseload reduction recommendation.
“SLPs must realize that, as individuals, they can make a difference in their workloads,” Castleman added. “But they must be willing to educate and lobby legislators about what they do, what it means to a child’s education, and the difficulties they are having with high caseloads. They have to make legislators link educational success with lower caseloads. Also they need to understand that to change state laws, especially when increased money is required, takes years of sustained effort.”
While state funds are in short supply, Neale pointed out that caseload reduction was one of the Board of Education’s top recommendations. “We have a strong Board of Education who will work very hard to get the entire Standards of Quality revision package passed, and we have 132 school districts working for the same thing. It is important to take pride in having been among the first five Standards of Quality initiatives recommended.”
Norton indicated that she has many people committed to visiting their legislators this fall. “People are realizing that we’re making progress and that caseload reduction is really a possibility,” she said. “I think that possible success is making it easier for some people to get involved. I hope the word spreads that these visits are easy and fun. The legislators enjoy talking to their constituents and learning about what is important to us.”
Oklahoma
The State Education Action Team continues to support the Oklahoma Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (OSHA) efforts to secure a salary supplement for ASHA-certified school-based clinicians. In past years, salary supplement legislation passed the Oklahoma Senate, but stalled each time in the House Education-Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee.
Now OSHA has changed its tactics, revising its proposed salary supplement bill (S.B. 11) to include an incremental phase-in plan that would begin with recognition of the CCC in the first year, followed by a three-year phase-in of an annual bonus of $1,000 the first year, $2,500 the second year, and finally $5,000 per year in the years to follow.
“Since this is a year of major education budget cuts in Oklahoma, we decided that if we didn’t attach new money for the first year, we would have a better chance of getting the bill passed in the appropriations committee,” said Janice Ray, grassroots coordinator for OSHA’s advocacy committee. “This is what Louisiana did to get their bill passed, and we are hoping the same will occur here.”
“OSHA will be focusing on gaining support for the bill at the grassroots level through the efforts of our statewide grassroots team that is being developed and trained,” said Mona Ryan, chair of OSHA’s advocacy committee.
This revision to S.B. 11 was a key discussion topic when members of OSHA’s advocacy committee and Janet Deppe of the State Education Action Team met in Oklahoma City on July 28. Other topics covered during the meeting included matching identified legislative targets and other key decision-makers in the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) and Department of Education with constituent members, and revising talking points and legislative packets.
The group also discussed plans for OSHA’s fall conference, which will be held later this month in Norman. While there, the advocacy committee hopes to meet with keynote speaker Kim Henry, wife of Gov. Brad Henry, about the proposed salary supplement. The OSHA advocacy committee also will be giving a joint presentation at the conference with the State Education Action Team for the schools caucus and business meeting, as well as having a booth at which attendees can sign on to the salary supplement campaign and write letters to their legislators.
Later this fall, Ryan and OSHA lobbyist Richard Hutton plan to meet with key sponsors of S.B. 11, as well as with OEA President Roy Bishop, State Superintendent Sandy Garrett, and the Oklahoma Department of Education.
West Virginia
In addition to ongoing pursuit of a salary supplement for certified SLPs and audiologists in the state’s schools, the West Virginia Speech-Language-Hearing Association (WVSHA) and the State Education Action Team have partnered to fight a Department of Education proposal to use bachelor’s-level assistants in place of fully qualified SLPs in areas with shortages.
“This Department of Education proposal diminishes the need for master’s-level therapists and undermines our salary supplement legislation,” explained Connie Breza, chair of WVSHA’s advocacy committee.
In response, WVSHA ratified a speech-language pathology assistant policy, based on ASHA guidelines. In addition, ASHA, WVSHA executive board members, and the WVSHA lobbyist testified before the state Board of Education on Sept. 18. Also, the chairs of the speech-language pathology/audiology training programs at Marshall University and West Virginia University (WVU) sent letters of support for WVSHA’s assistantpolicy.
Undaunted by earlier defeat of their equitable compensation legislation—which would recognize the ASHA CCC as equivalent to teachers’ NBPTS certification—the WVSHA advocacy committee also is continuing to pursue a $2,500 salary bonus for all ASHA-certified clinicians in the state’s public schools.
“We really need this salary supplement as an incentive to recruit and retain certified master’s-level clinicians,” Breza said, adding that, after 20 years of service, most of West Virginia’s school-based clinicians face a salary cap (some counties apply the cap at 25 years). “Between 20 and 30 years of experience, the only way you can get a raise is with a statewide raise. People with the most experience have no incentive to stay.”
The WVSHA advocacy committee unveiled its “Pay Equity Campaign” display in April at WVSHA’s annual convention in Flatwoods. The committee received commitments of support from many attendees, as well as from the WVU and Marshall training programs.
Committee members are revising strategies for the upcoming legislative session and meeting with key legislators to garner support for the salary supplement legislation. This fall, the committee will activate its grassroots network—including 100 new volunteers—and mail constituent letters in support of WVSHA’s pay equity bill directly to identified legislators.
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September 2003
Volume 8, Issue 17