Education advocacy initiatives and activities

APA strongly supports several issues important to education

Budget and appropriations issues

Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding

Once again, thanks to the many psychologists who came to Washington to participate in congressional visits, the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program has survived another round of very difficult budget battles on Capitol Hill. With continued bipartisan support, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted on June 14 to protect the GPE Program with level funding for FY 2013 — just under $3 million. In addition, the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee underscored the critical importance of the GPE Program with a very strong statement in its accompanying report:

Graduate Psychology Education grants train psychology graduate students to provide supervised behavioral and mental health services to underserved populations. With significant numbers of returning war veterans and a rapidly growing generation of elderly, the Nation's mental health infrastructure is certain to experience increased strain for years to come as individuals and their families increasingly turn to behavioral healthcare professionals in local communities. The Committee supports efforts to help integrate psychology trainees at Federally Qualified Health Centers to provide behavioral and mental health services to underserved populations, particularly those in rural America.

Increased funding for Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act programs

The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA) Campus Suicide Prevention program received $4.97 million from the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee for FY 2013, which reflects level funding from last year. In addition, the program received $2.535 million from the Prevention and Public Health fund, an increase of $1 million from the last fiscal year, providing a grand total of $7.5 million proposed for campus suicide prevention initiatives for the upcoming fiscal year. The GLSMA Youth Suicide State Grant program received $29.68 million and an additional $5.67 million from the Prevention and Public Health fund, for a total of $35.35 million for FY 2013, which is the same amount this program received in FY 2012. Finally, the GLSMA Suicide Prevention Resource Center received $4.95 million, which is the same as the FY 2012 level. In FY 2012, the program had received $1 million from the Prevention fund.

Status of GPE and GLSMA funding through March 2013

The House subcommittee marked up its FY 2013 legislation on July 18, but the full committee did not act on the bill. The Senate and House agreed to a continuing resolution through the end of March 2013 that keeps all federal programs funded at their FY 2012 funding level.

Authorizing legislation

Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act reauthorization (SAMHSA Campus Suicide Prevention Program)

Education GRO continues actively to support the GLSMA Reauthorization of 2011 (S. 740), a bill reauthorizing the current GLSMA programs. Education GRO provided input to Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., during the development of this legislation. This legislation, introduced with strong bipartisan support, renews and strengthens the programs within the GLSMA, including the Campus Suicide Prevention program, the Youth Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention program, and the Suicide Prevention Technical Assistance Center. The bill includes provisions from the Campus Care and Counseling Act, legislation developed and championed by APA. Bill S. 740 makes needed changes to the Campus Suicide Prevention program to afford more flexibility in the “uses of funds” for college counseling centers. Originally co-sponsored by Sens. Murkowski, R-Alaska, Durbin, D-Ill., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., the number of supporters has grown to 16.

Education GRO issued an action alert asking APA members to call their senators and request that they co-sponsor this important bill. Education GRO has been working closely with Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and staff on a House version of the GLSMA reauthorization. Education GRO is also working closely with APA member advocates to encourage Republican co-sponsorship in advance of introduction.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization

Education GRO spearheaded the development of APA's recommendations for the improvement of the ESEA. The start of the 112th Congress brought in new leadership in the House and provides APA with new opportunities to educate members of Congress about psychology and its role in teaching and learning. Education GRO will continue to work in close partnership with Public Interest (PI) GRO as well as with Science GRO and Practice to promote psychology's changes to the ESEA. This will be accomplished by meeting with key staff and committees in the House and Senate. Because of the unlikelihood that Congress will complete action on this important authorization bill, Education GRO intends to review and revise APA's ESEA recommendations. One example of a specific initiative involves a partnership between Education GRO and PI-GRO, under PI's leadership, to further develop APA's recommendations on bullying prevention.

APA's recommendations cover topics related to teacher professional development, teaching skills, school climate and safe schools, including violence directed toward teachers, bullying prevention, expanded school mental health, gifted and talented education, and English language acquisition, to name a few.

Initiatives related to federal agencies

Department of Health and Human Services

Education Directorate staff met with officials of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the Department of Health and Human Services about the role of psychologists in the provision of integrated health care, and the need for federal recognition and support to ensure the contributions of psychologists to health care for underserved populations — in particular through Federally Qualified Health Centers. HRSA was made aware of the psychology internship imbalance and worked with the Education Directorate to design a new training grant program in mental and behavioral health for psychologists and social workers that would address the needs of both professions. On May 2, 2012, the grant competition, known as the Mental and Behavioral Health Education and Training Grants (MBHETG) Program, was announced.

The MBHETG Program aims to strengthen the clinical field competencies and increase the number of psychologists and social workers who pursue clinical work with high-need and high-demand populations, such as rural, vulnerable and/or underserved populations and veterans, military personnel and their families. Eligible applicants are institutions of higher education, including APA-accredited schools and programs of psychology and accredited internships in public and private nonprofit institutions. On Sept. 26, 2012, 11 APA-accredited psychology programs, including internships, were awarded 3-year grants under this new program, and 11 psychology grantees were awarded a total of more than $3.6 million. This new grant program presents an excellent opportunity for psychology to benefit from an infusion of new funding in a very tight federal fiscal environment.

Department of Education

Education GRO has been working as a partner in the Higher Education Task Force on Teacher Preparation to educate congressional offices on soon-to-be proposed regulations from the Department of Education regarding accountability measures for teacher education programs. Through Hill visits to staff of the House and Senate, the task force has shared concerns about the process used by the Department of Education to establish a state ranking or rating of teacher education programs and to link these ratings to the distribution of student financial aid through the TEACH grant. The department is likely to publish proposed regulations in the near future. Education GRO will continue to monitor this issue and bring the expertise of psychological science to bear on the discussion and debate.

Education advocacy grassroots activities

Annual Education Advocacy Breakfast meeting

This year the Representative Corrine Brown, D-Fla., was the keynote speaker for the Education Advocacy Breakfast meeting, which was held on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, in the Peabody Orlando Hotel during the APA convention. The congresswoman was unable to attend; her district director, Ronita Sanders, presented on her behalf. As a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Brown has a unique perspective on the mental and behavioral health needs of veterans, both in the community and on college campuses. In addition to providing insight into the work of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Ms. Sanders talked about the federal programs that address these needs, including the role of the U.S. Department of Defense Center for Deployment Psychology and SAMHSA's Campus Suicide Prevention Program, both of which APA was instrumental in getting established. Finally, Ms. Sanders underscored the unprecedented challenges that veterans are facing today and what role psychologists can play in addressing them.

Education/Public Interest GRO Joint Advocacy Curriculum Project

As reported in the recent Education GRO update sent to various APA electronic mailing lists, Education GRO is in the final development phase of the advocacy training modules, a collaborative project between the Education GRO and the PI-GRO staff. In mid-October, Education GRO and PI-GRO completed their Interactive Classroom videotaping of five advocacy training modules. The modules include an introduction to federal advocacy, a review of the three branches of government, and sessions on how to influence the legislative process effectively and how to get more involved in advocacy through political activities. The modules are expected to be online through the APA CE Office in early 2013.

Federal Education Advocacy Grassroots Network

Following up on last year's very successful recruiting campaign, which resulted in 100 new campus/training representatives (CTRs), this year a number of our federal education advocacy coordinators (FEDACs) — our grassroots leaders — have agreed to “team-up” for a huge push to expand our grassroots network. Working together across regions, FEDACs will identify potential CTRs at psychology programs and training sites across the country. Want to help? Join FEDAC — you can truly make a difference! Contact Arielle Eiser.