The educating of our children and the safety of every one of them is the focus of each person who works within a school district. One of the ways that we do that is through advocacy.

In late February, Indio High School Principal Derrick Lawson traveled to Washington, D.C., to represent Desert Sands Unified School District at the annual Advocacy Conference, sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Principal Lawson noted, “As a principal, my job is to provide each student in my school every resource and opportunity possible so they can reach their full potential.” He continued, “That job extends to advocating for my students at the highest levels of government. I believe my conversations with members of Congress gave them a clearer impression of the impact their decisions have on schools here in Indio.”

Close to 200 school leaders from across the country converged on Washington, D.C., in mid-March for the annual NASSP Advocacy Conference. The event included a series of presentations and panel discussions on the most pressing federal policies affecting education and culminated with a day of visits to elected officials at their offices on Capitol Hill.

Included was a discussion on the impact of cuts in the Title 2 budget that supports local schools with professional development on the newest curriculum standards and provides academic coaching to help teachers adapt lessons to meet the specific unique needs of students who are English learners and students who have a learning disability.

Additional advocacy centered on the preservation of funding for Title IV which is specific to school safety. Principal Lawson reminded the many legislators and staff members that, while Desert Sands communities have voted for local bond measures that help to modernize or maintain our schools, the schools also need to be represented in infrastructure bills. With a strong CTE (Career Technical Education) program in all three of our valley school districts (Desert Sands Unified, Palm Springs Unified, and Coachella Unified) he was able to advocate for the reauthorization of the Carl Perkins Bill to expand career awareness training to middle schools and support the career readiness training in our high schools.


Meeting with staff members of Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D.

At the state and local level, school district personnel are in regular communication with Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., Supervisor Manuel Perez, as well as senators and assembly representatives. Legislators are invited to participate in discussions as well as attend school tours and events. Staff members of elected officials attend many district and school functions.

Desert Sands Unified School District schools are located in Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, and Palm Desert. Regular meetings take place among mayors and city council members with the elected members of the school board and district staff.

The responsibility for keeping our children safe and providing them with an education that prepares them for college, career, and life is in the hands of each of us and advocating for our students takes place at every level of government, local, county, state, and federal.

While in Washington, Principal Lawson met with the offices of Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressman Raul Ruiz, Congressman Mark DeSalnier, Congresswoman Susan Davis, and Congressman Jim Costa.

Image Sources

  • Congressman Ruiz staff members: Desert Sands Unified School District
  • Sen. Jeff Stone at DSUSD: Desert Sands Unified School District