Jane E. West
AACTE Education Policy Consultant
This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide update information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Congress was busy this week trying to wrap a few things up as they enter an extended recess period. With the timeline for the election pressing, the momentum will continue. Remember the first Democratic presidential candidate debate is in June—just two months away! So the pressure is on.
- House Makes Magic Move on Budget!
The Budget Control Act, as it stands now, would require dramatic cuts for education and other programs for FY 2020, which begins October 1. In order to avoid significant cuts to education and other programs, the Budget Control Act needs to be amended to increase the spending caps. While the House Budget Committee adopted new spending caps this week, Democrats were unable to find consensus and bring that provision to the House floor.
But do not despair! Where there is a will there is a way! On Wednesday the House adopted something called a “deeming resolution” which provides for $1.3 trillion for the 12 spending bills in FY 2020. The “non-defense discretionary” portion (which includes education) will be $34 billion over the FY 2019 spending level. This deeming resolution paves the way for Appropriations Chair, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), to divvy up the funding into 12 pots—one for each of the appropriations bills.
The American Council on Education, the major coordinating association for our nation’s colleges and universities, is leading the Protect Dreamers Higher Education Coalition, of which AACTE is a member. The coalition is coordinating a week of advocacy efforts beginning today, October 16, and has developed a website providing multiple resources related to Dreamers, including fact sheets and talking points, which can be used by individual campuses for advocacy.
In addition, the coalition is leading a letter that your institution can sign on to – but time is tight. The deadline is Wednesday, October 18, at noon EDT. To have your institution sign on to the letter, please reach out to your president’s office as well as your government relations staff. Find the instructions here.
The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) is out with a new analysis of teacher turnover and its impact on teacher shortages, showing that the nationwide shortfall of 100,000 teachers predicted in last year’s study A Coming Crisis in Teaching? has largely been realized and issuing recommendations to stem the problem before it grows worse.
In the updated report – Teacher Turnover: Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It – Desiree Carver-Thomas and Linda Darling-Hammond share recent data revealing that in just 31 states, 82,000 positions are filled by underqualified teachers and at least 5,000 are unfilled altogether; extrapolated to all states, the total number is likely around 110,000. If current trends persist, they say, we could face an even higher shortfall next year. The shortages are most acute in the fields of special education and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and are disproportionately present in high-poverty and high-minority schools.
Editor’s Note: This briefing has been postponed due to weather challenges. Please stay tuned for an announcement of the new date.
On Wednesday, January 27, the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) will hold a congressional briefing to release its new study Teacher Advancement Initiatives: Lessons Learned From Eight Case Studies. Completed in conjunction with Pearson, the report is the product of a 3-year study of schools and districts with established career advancement initiatives. The study identifies components of successful, sustainable teacher career continuums with positive impacts on teacher recruitment, retention, and job satisfaction.
The eight case studies include schools and districts in urban and rural areas of Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Iowa, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington. The report identifies key elements of effective career continuums such as structured roles for teacher leaders, opportunities for release time and collaboration, compensation differentiation, peer coaching and evaluation, embedded professional development, and structured opportunities for teacher voice in decision making.
On Friday at Dunbar High School in Washington, DC, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz announced movement on long-overdue teacher preparation regulations. These regulations are the successor to the spring 2012 negotiated rule making held by the Department of Education, which failed to reach consensus after several tumultuous sessions.
Joined on a panel at Friday’s event by Jim Cibulka (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation), Camilla Benbow (Vanderbilt University, TN), Chris Minnich (Council of Chief State School Officers), Kaya Henderson (District of Columbia Public Schools), Elisa Villanueva Beard (Teach For America), and Secretary Duncan, Muñoz said the regulations are “something that the president has a real sense of urgency about.”
Tomorrow, April 18, is the deadline for public comment on the proposed “highly qualified teacher” (HQT) data collection by the U.S. Department of Education. A detailed letter submitted yesterday by the Coalition for Teaching Quality hails the proposed collection as “an important first step towards meeting the legislative intent” of Congress’ directive to report on the extent to which students in certain high-need categories are taught by teachers who are labeled as “highly qualified,” but who are actually teachers-in-training in alternative routes.
On March 25, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) convened the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) to consider changes to Title II of the Higher Education Act (HEA), the portion of the law that addresses teacher preparation. This was the seventh hearing in a series in the Senate on HEA reauthorization.
The predominant theme of the hearing was concern that the Title II data reporting requirements for teacher preparation programs are out of date, onerous, and not useful for program improvement. All five witnesses agreed on this point and offered recommendations for change.
On December 17, the U.S. Department of Education issued a formal Request for Information (RFI) about the development of its new system for rating institutions of higher education, officially known as the Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS). (Note: This system aims to rate institutions as a whole, not their various divisions, although educator preparation programs would be a part of their institutions’ rating.)
The Department is urging higher education faculty, students, parents, researchers, data experts, advocacy groups, organizations with expertise in developing rating systems, and others to provide information about what should be included in this rating system. The deadline for submission is January 31.
On December 12, I attended a hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) billed as “Accreditation as Quality Assurance: Meeting the Needs of 21st Century Learning.” This was one of a series of 13 hearings the Committee is holding in preparation for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) chaired the hearing, and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) sat as ranking Republican on the Committee. Other members in attendance were Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), and Christopher Murphy (D-CT). A full recording of the hearing along with written remarks from speakers can be found here. (You will note my presence in the audience!)
On October 24, I had the great pleasure of joining the Florida Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (FACTE) for its fall conference. With 130 people in attendance and the announcement of a new executive director, FACTE is going strong.
After years of outstanding service, Bob Shockley (Florida Atlantic University) retired as executive director, and FACTE welcomed Terry Osborn (University of South Florida) as its new head. AACTE’s membership ambassador, former FACTE chair Jennifer Platt, shared with FACTE the many benefits of joining AACTE. And we all welcomed Flagler College into the AACTE family as a new member.