Arizona Alliance of Black

School Educators

Dr. Amy J. Strefling

Managing Federal Funds under ESSA:  Civil Rights vs. The Status Quo


Civil rights have long been at the heart of American federal education policy. ESSA reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a civil rights law originally passed in 1965 that was designed to raise the academic achievement of marginalized student groups, including the poor, the disabled, racial and ethnic minorities, and non-native English speakers. With the formal roll-out of ESSA in this upcoming 2018-2019 school year, will states be prepared to make the difficult, but necessary, changes to ensure an equitable and excellent education for every student in our nation?  

Amy Strefling grew up on Pittsburgh’s west end and became a first-generation college graduate when she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Arizona State University. She continued her education as a Sun Devil, receiving a master’s degree in educational administration and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy studies. (Dissertation:  The Influence of Integrated and De Facto Segregated Schools on the Racial Attitudes of White Students Toward African Americans.)  

Dr. Strefling is the product of the Pittsburgh Public School System, where efforts to racially balance schools has been both a priority and a point of controversy.  While the experience of attending racially integrated schools provided Dr. Strefling and her peers with opportunities to build and nurture strong relationships across cultural lines, it also placed Dr. Strefling in a position to witness overt prejudice and intentional discrimination toward African American children and adults.  Through these experiences, she learned that those who are born with “white privilege” have a moral responsibility to promote justice in places where racist attitudes and systemic oppression breed hatred and hopelessness within our diverse society. 


Dr. Strefling has served Arizona’s children as a middle school and high school teacher, assistant principal, and principal.  She has been supporting school districts in the acquisition and management of federal program funding since 2007, when she had the great privilege of working with and learning from Dr. Sonny Ashegbeyeri.  She is currently the Director of Federal Programs and Grant Development in the Cartwright School District and proudly sits on the board of The Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators.