Riverview Elementary School principal Julia Mashburn joined elementary- and middle-school educators and leaders from across the country during the National Association of Elementary School Principals' National Leaders Conference on July 13-15 in Washington, D.C.
The educators were in the nation's capital to advocate for new policies that would give principals the tools they need to shape long-term and effective plans for education improvement.
Mashburn, who is state president of the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals, teamed with Eddie Pollard, Bob Heaberlin, Julie Raschen and Cecil Patterson to represent Georgia at the conference.
While there, the group of educators met with Georgia representatives in Congress and the Senate to discuss legislative recommendations for the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Mashburn believes that she and her companions were able to put a human face on the statistics that legislators use to create and alter federal law.
Mashburn said she believes that they made an impact.
"The one thing that we had heard over the last year from our legislators is that they don't want to just hear pat statistics. They like to hear the illustrations behind the decisions they make, they want to hear the stories," she said. "So one of our goals was to go to the capital and give them an example from a little school in a little town in north Georgia and what this legislation is requiring from us.
"And I do feel like we made progress with them."
Mashburn said that she firmly believes Georgia representatives in Washington care about voters and want to do the right thing for education in Georgia.
"They just don't understand the real story of how (legislation) impacts us," Mashburn said. "We tried to put students' faces and families' lives with this because our feeling is that they are making these decisions in good faith.
"But the stipulations and red tape result in so many modifications and changes that (federal funding) gets to the child too late."
Mashburn said she received an allotment of federal funds last school year, but it didn't arrive until late April.
"If I had received that earlier in the school year, I could have really done something with it that would have had more benefit to the children," Mashburn said.
In addition to putting a face on the numbers, Mashburn said another goal was to lobby for the deregulation of educational policies to allow states and local school systems more funding flexibility.
At the present time, federal funds can only be used on specific items, and those items are not always what the school has the greatest need for.
"There are times when we have to use federal funding on projects that aren't really a priority or we risk losing (the funds) altogether," Mashburn said.
The group was not ignorant of the current government focus on the federal budget that is prevalent in Washington.
"I asked directly where education fits in the overall national picture as far as funding goes," Mashburn said. "We were told that education in the big picture is really a very small slice of the budget, so going in and doing a lot of major cuts wouldn't really help to balance the (federal) budget."