An NASSP Student Leadership Initiative

Title IV Funding Must Increase as Students Unite to Change Government

Never before has this world seen a more powerful generation of students unafraid to use their voices and engage in change. The government is noticing this shift and broadening its focus to include students who are too young to vote, as their power and influence tips the scales of American politics and lays a foundation for millions more to storm the polls and make a difference.

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Title IV Funding Must Increase as Students Unite to Change Government

By Billy Wermuth

The NASSP Student Leadership Advisory Committee is hard at work trying to initiate a movement of young civically engaged peers who know what they want and when they want it. This past January, the committee assembled to tackle a particularly important piece of legislation: Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

In the 2017 national budget, $1.65 billion was allocated to fund Title IV, which specializes in improving public education. Individual school districts can use the approximate $10,000 allotted to them to foster various education opportunities, such as a more well-rounded program for students with special needs or a more comprehensive and effective technology center. In the end, only $400 million was appropriated, leaving schools with little to no financial support—further backed by the executive administration that believes the budget should not include Title IV funding at all.

Putting our own advice to the test, the members of the committee suited up and climbed Capitol Hill for a direct conversation with our senators that urged them to support Title IV funding, and by doing so, support the needs of over 2 million students nationwide. It was a daunting task met with endless chances to share our perspective and fight for policy, which directly affected our lives. Esther Abiona, a member of the committee, had a particularly interesting meeting with her senator that prompted great hope and a chance at a brighter, more well-funded future.

Upon entering Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)’s chambers, Esther was greeted by a legislative assistant who would conduct the meeting rather than the senator himself. When Sen. Carper heard what Esther was doing, he ran out of his own meeting to sit down with her. She pitched a much-needed increase in Title IV funding, which was met with consideration and agreement. Esther’s powerful voice and commitment allowed her to advocate for what she believed in at the highest level of American government.

Anyone can do what Esther did and on so many levels. Students need to reach out to their state senators and demand change. This example stands for so much more than a simple policy alteration. The committee encourages every student to educate themselves on what matters in their lives and take a stand; use that passion and drive to make a difference. Start small by talking to the administration at your school, and work your way up by creating a student representative position on the school board. From their influence, you can gain confidence and experience—which ultimately leads to a unified body of underage teens who will not be forgotten. This is an era where every American citizen, regardless of age, can be empowered to support policies like Title IV funding, along with so many others.


Billy Wermuth is a senior at North Penn High School in Lansdale, PA.