AACTE Response to the Federal School Safety Commission Report

AACTE President/CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement on December 20, 2018 regarding the latest Federal School Safety Commission report:

On December 18, 2018, the Federal School Safety Commission released its final report, outlining the background of its work and providing recommendations for action across three broad areas: 1) prevent, 2) protect and mitigate, and 3) respond and recover. While AACTE appreciates the effort of the current Administration to explore the critical issue of school safety, the report raises significant concerns and poses further questions.

The Commission’s report talks about the social-emotional and mental health needs of our K-12 students; however, it does not address capacity building for schools to have the tools to reach more students. The recommendation to rescind the current guidance on school discipline, created to combat the disproportionate suspension and expulsion of students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ youth, is also highly problematic and contrary to our Association’s values of equity and inclusion. AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone testified before the Commission and joined others in strongly discouraging the use of federal funds to arm teachers as a solution to ensure school safety, yet the report does not eliminate the option of training and arming school personnel with firearms.

AACTE is also concerned about the report’s particular discussion on the preparation of teachers. While AACTE and its members agree that veterans and law enforcement professionals can bring a wealth of knowledge to any new career, we disagree that classroom management and experience in training others are pedagogical skills. There is far more knowledge and practice necessary for the successful teaching of students or the management of a school, all of which is offered through an educator preparation program.

In addition, AACTE is deeply concerned about the Commission’s recommendation that states should reduce barriers to certification for becoming teachers. While the profession develops competency-based preparation programs to support career changers to enter the classroom, there is a necessity to ensure that expeditious programs maintain a high level of quality preparation for its candidates. Certification and licensure standards are in place to ensure that, upon completion, those educators are profession-ready teachers for our nation’s classrooms. Reduction of these requirements threatens both the quality of educators and the instruction they are able to provide. All children should have profession-ready teachers throughout their elementary and secondary education experience.

We look forward to working with our members, our PK-12 partners, and other key stakeholders in ensuring that educators and students enter their schools and classrooms without fear and ready to engage in teaching and learning.

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