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Deborah Koolbeck

Director of Government Relations

Congress Is Back! Join a Federal Update Webinar

As Congress returns from recess, so do the Federal Update webinars offered each month for AACTE members. This month’s update will be held September 20 and 21.

Each month, I’ll update you on what is happening in Washington, DC, related to educator preparation, and discuss how you can engage in advocacy for the profession. To accommodate a variety of schedules, each set of webinars is offered on consecutive days of the week at different times of the day.

It’s Still Recess! Time to Meet With Members of Congress

Did you know that August and October are great times to meet with your U.S. Representative and Senators? During these months, Congress is in “recess,” meaning members are back home meeting with constituents like you.

Time is running out on the August recess, but it may still be possible to land a meeting with some members of Congress before they return to Washington, DC, after Labor Day weekend. If not, October is coming fast, and now is an excellent time to ask for a meeting—or even work with your institution’s government relations office to invite elected officials to an event you are hosting.

USED Proposes Regulation on State Authorization for Distance Education

The U.S. Department of Education released a proposed regulation last month dealing with institutional eligibility for Title IV funds (federal student financial aid). Comments on the proposal are due by August 24 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

In an effort to address concerns over fraudulent practices, noncompliance with requirements of Title IV programs, and other challenges, the Department is offering this latest round of proposed regulations (the initial work on this began in 2012) on distance education programs with an eye to those that operate in more than one state.

House Appropriations Committee Rejects Amendment to Restore TQP Grant Funding

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations marked up the FY17 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) funding bill. This was the last of the 12 appropriations bills to be marked up by the full committee prior to the congressional recess.

During the markup, members of the committee submitted 32 amendments seeking to restore or increase funding to programs, clarify language, or repeal policy riders. Of key interest to educator preparation is an amendment offered by Representative David Price (D-NC) to restore funding for the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants, the only federal grant program designed to reform and strengthen teacher preparation across the nation. (See our fact sheet for an overview of the TQP grant program.) The son of two teachers, Price spoke passionately of his support for the TQP program and the work of grantees to strengthen teacher preparation. Unfortunately, this amendment failed, but the chairman of the subcommittee, Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), committed to further conversations on the matter as the appropriations process unfolds.

White Papers Explore Higher Education Funding Directions

The National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education released a set of white papers earlier this month exploring aspects of the fiscal issues facing higher education. Designed to guide policy and funding decisions, these papers (and another six still in development) provide a revealing look at the state and national funding landscape for institutions.

The commission, a project of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, has been working since 2014 on policy and funding recommendations for the United States to reach the goal of 60% of the labor workforce having a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. Currently, the nation is not on target to meet this goal and faces numerous related challenges, from high school graduation rates and access to higher education to workforce underdevelopment. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, other nations are meeting or surpassing the United States in postsecondary degree and credentialing rates.

‘Third Space’ Urban Teacher Residency Offers Transformative Lessons

Last month, AACTE held a briefing in Washington, DC, on the Teacher Quality Partnership grant program. Titled “Investing in Solutions,” the briefing featured several grant recipients from New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia in order to showcase the program to congressional staff and members of the higher education community. One of the featured grantees, New Jersey’s Newark-Montclair Urban Teacher Residency (NMUTR), shared lessons and best practices published in the recent book A Year in the Life of a Third Space Urban Teacher Residency: Using Inquiry to Reinvent Teacher Education. I invited the book’s authors, Monica Taylor and Emily J. Klein of Montclair State University, to highlight some of these lessons for Ed Prep Matters:

TIME SENSITIVE: New TQP Grants Available; Priority Focus on Tribal or Rural Populations

The U.S. Department of Education has announced a new competition for the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant program. After consultations with tribal communities and officials, the Department has designed this grant cycle to focus on improving the outcomes of students in tribal and rural populations.

For this competition, the Department expects to award three to five grants averaging $1 million each. Interested parties have until June 22 to submit their notice of intent to apply; completed applications are due by July 7.

Comments Submitted? Here’s What’s Next

Today, AACTE submitted its comment on the U.S. Department of Education’s supplemental notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) for distance education programs in teacher preparation. If you have not yet done so, you have a few more hours–until 11:59 p.m. EDT, May 2–to share your perspectives on this proposal. See our resources here for guidance.

What’s Next?

After the deadline, AACTE will do some analysis to see what kind of responses were submitted and by whom.

Comment by May 2 on Proposed Regulations

It is time again to make your voice heard in the latest request for comments on the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed regulations on teacher preparation programs. The deadline to submit comments is Monday, May 2.

On April 1, the Department released a supplemental notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) affecting the implementation of the proposed teacher preparation program regulations for “distance education” programs. The Department seeks additional feedback on questions raised about these programs in some of the nearly 5,000 comments received on the initial NPRM last year.

AACTE stands ready to help you respond to this request for comment!

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