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AACTE Washington Week Unites Educators in Advocacy

The value of “acting as one” was the resounding message highlighted throughout AACTE’s Washington Week, June 5-8, themed “Diverse Perspectives, Deep Partnerships, One Profession.” Attendees were urged to join forces with fellow educators across conventional boundaries to build professional and political coalitions in order to effectively advocate for shared values. From connections made during the Holmes Scholars Summer Policy Institute to panel discussions at the State Leaders Institute through Day on the Hill advocacy work, the importance of building partnerships was stressed by invited partners and AACTE member participants alike.

On June 5, the State Leaders Institute (SLI) kicked off with a full agenda of policy briefings, chapter development work, and much more (see this blog for reflections from Kentucky’s Ann Larson). During the second day, chapter leaders focused on opportunities and challenges related to the shift of political power in education back to state legislators as a result of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). On June 6, three afternoon sessions highlighted the implications of ESSA for educator preparation providers:

  • In “ESSA: The Time Is Now for Building Policy Maker Partnerships,” leaders from several AACTE partner education organizations discussed strategies for productive advocacy. Panelists included Ross Weiner, executive director of education and society program at the Aspen Institute; Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education; Jared Billings, program director of the education division of the National Governors Association; Sharmila Mann, senior project manager/policy analyst for Education Commission of the States; and Elizabeth Whitehouse, director of education and workforce development policy for the Council of State Governments. Click here to view the video recording of the first SLI Monday afternoon session.
  • In “One Profession: Building a Coalition with Education Organizations,” another panel discussed partnering to address recent changes in state policy. Panelists included Lisa Stooksberry, senior vice president of standards and assessment for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; Judy Beck, member of the board of directors of the Association of Teacher Educators; Colleen Callahan, director of professional issues for the Rhode Island Federation of Teacher and Healthcare Professionals; Jeanne DelColle, strategic partnerships specialist for the Stockton University School of Education; and 2012 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year Deborah Stevens, director of instructional advocacy for Delaware State Education Association. Click here to view the video recording of the second SLI Monday afternoon session.
  • The third session, sponsored by the Learning First Alliance’s Get It Right Campaign, featured a panel discussion on college- and career-ready standards and ESSA. Panelists included Carrie Phillips, program director for the Council of Chief State School Officers; Kate Blosveren Kreamer, deputy executive director for Advance CTE; David Chodak, associate director of advocacy for the National Association of Secondary School Principals; Ann Coffman, senior policy analyst of teacher quality for the National Education Association (NEA); David Ritchey, executive director of the Association of Teacher Educators; and Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, assistant to the president for educational issues at the American Federation of Teachers. Click here to view the video recording of the third SLI Monday afternoon session.

Meanwhile the Holmes Scholars Summer Policy Institute, also held June 6, welcomed its largest number of participants ever. The scholars delved into provocative issues such as changing teacher diversity and the future of the teaching profession. They were inspired by education leaders including Peggy Brookins, president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; Kim Hunter Reed from the U.S. Department of Education; Shannon Litton from Educational Testing Service; Steve Wakefield from Discovery; and Tiffany Cain from NEA Teacher Quality.

Many of the scholars and state chapter leaders stayed on to join other AACTE members for Day on the Hill, which also enjoyed record-high participation and began with a full-day orientation June 7.  Attendees discussed common legislative priorities, practiced talking points for their congressional visits, and learned advocacy skills to be applied both in Washington and at home with district and state legislators. They also received inside tips for effectively working with the press by industry-leading education reporters Caitlin Emma of PoliticoPro and Stephen Sawchuk of Education Week.

On June 8, participants applied their new skills by visiting their representatives on Capitol Hill, uniting their voices in advocacy for the educator preparation profession and sharing their local stories. (For more on Day on the Hill, see this blog by AACTE intern Denarius Stinson.)

Attendees were active on Twitter throughout the week, chronicling their experiences with the hashtag #AACTEWW16. View the compiled tweets in this Storify archive. In addition, photos from the events are available on AACTE’s Facebook page through these links:

State Leaders Institute
Holmes Scholars Summer Policy Institute
Day on the Hill


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Jerrica Thurman

Director of Marketing & Communications, AACTE

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