ASHA SEALs Update: February 2024


Published in the February 2024 issue of the ISHA Voice.

By Karen Kockler and Julie O’Brien-Smith

Karen and Julie are co-ASHA SEALs representatives for Illinois.

Summary of January’s SEALs Teleconference

1. Federal Education Issue Highlights for 2024

a. [Executive Branch] Administrative Education Policy addresses:

  • increase federal tech assistance
  • support additional funding for tutoring and community-based organizations
  • increase summer and after school opportunities
  • address chronic absenteeism

b. Upcoming major rulemaking from the Department of Education to include privacy protection, family educational rights, higher education accreditation, career and technical education.

c. [Legislative Branch] Congressional Education Policy efforts include:

  • House Education and Workforce–oversight hearings, Parents Bill of Rights, workforce (short term)
  • Senate–Education Sciences Reform Act, hearings on professional shortages, mental health and impact on education

2. ASHA’s Advocacy page: News, Take Action. You can sign up to receive news and information on taking action directly into your inbox by clicking on these links!

3. For school-based SLPs and educational audiologists, 2024 Public Policy Agenda will focus on these highlights–(read the agenda to learn more)

  • Promoting working environments that facilitate safe and effective service delivery
  • Supporting statewide salary supplement legislation for educational audiologists and school-based speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who hold ASHA’s CCCs to receive additional compensation for maintaining them
  • Ensuring appropriate recognition of and support for educational audiologists and school-based SLPs and advocating for policies that facilitate efficient and effective service delivery for students with communication disorders in schools

4. Feedback on Medicaid Issues in Your States
Bill Knudsen, Director Education Policy, ASHA and Eric Masten, Director Federal Affairs, Education, ASHA

  • School-based Medicaid Overview
  • $50M incentives to access Medicaid in Schools.
  • Medicaid funds–fighting for funds to go back into special education.
  • When it comes to billing Medicaid, follow federal and/or state Medicaid policies, whichever is more restrictive. Each state’s Medicaid policies are different, but Medicaid has the final say. SLPs are ultimately responsible for any potential speech-related inaccuracies.
  • There will be an ASHA town hall for school-based SLPs in March. Watch for announcements.

ASHA and NEA Townhall

On January 24, 2024, ASHA and NEA co-hosted a townhall meeting.  According to the participant count on the Zoom call, there were 294 attendees!  It was a very informative conversation.  The top issues discussed were caseload/workload, salaries (which of course included staff shortages), retention and recruitment, burn-out and overwhelm, roles and responsibilities, and appropriate work space.

ASHA conducts school surveys every two years, on even years.  So, watch for the survey sometime this year.  

NEA supports workload analysis!  NEA representatives also stated that they [and AFT] support those who are in “Right to Work” states (non-union), so reach out to one of them if you need support.  [FYI, Illinois is not a “right to work” state; it upholds a worker’s right for collective bargaining.]  They can also provide sample contract language specific to speech language pathologists and education audiologists.  They encourage SLPs and audiologists to get involved and engage in union activities.  Take an “interest-based” approach to advocacy versus an “adversarial/positional” approach.  When sharing concerns with your administrators and/or union leadership, relate the issues with your students in mind…how do your concerns impact your students?

Other News:

  • HFS is in the process of updating the Handbook for LEAs U-200!
  • A new ISBE guide for school-based SLPs, SLPAs, educational audiologists, audiology assistants, and hearing itinerants is in progress.  Stay tuned!

The next ASHA SEAL teleconference is scheduled for 2/26/2024 at 6:00 p.m.. February’s call is for state updates, so please share any information or concerns you may have; send to Karen Kockler or to Julie O’Brien-Smith,  Thank you!