Lions Visit Capitol Hill to Discuss U.S. Education Priorities

Last week, Lions clubs volunteers from around the United States converged on Washington, D.C. to meet with congressional representatives and their staffs to discuss issues important to Lions and their local communities.

Jimmy M. Ross, of Quitaque, TX represented the Lone Star State in this annual event known as Lions Day on Capitol Hill. Mr. Ross, a former president of Lions Clubs International, met with Representative Joe Barton (R, district 06) and staff members from several other Texas congressional offices to solicit support for full funding of Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which includes provisions specifically designed to elevate social emotional learning (SEL) in public schools. Under the provisions of ESSA, states like Texas and its local school districts now have more flexibility to define their assessments of student success. This includes nonacademic factors as indicators of accountability, such as student engagement, school climate, and safety. The legislation also encourages schools to establish learning environments and enhance students’ effective learning skills essential for academic success.

In March of 2016, Lions Clubs International joined a coalition of organizations formed to urge Congress to fund Title IV Part of ESSA at its authorized level of $1.65B. This was a reaction to the President’s budget request for funding the block grant at less than half the authorized amount.

SEL is of particular interest to Lions. According to Mr. Ross, Lions Quest is a youth development program of Lions Clubs International used in schools in the United States and around the world which helps develop the physical, mental and emotional well-being of children. Mr. Ross stated, “Lions Clubs has witnessed the success of programs such as Lions Quest and has worked to include SEL programs into federal education law. We have made a real difference in improving the school environment for children. If more school districts in Texas implemented programs such as Lions Quest, it would dramatically improve the classroom environment, making it more conducive to learning.”

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization, with over 25,000 members in nearly 900 clubs in Texas alone.

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