Dean and Professor, Zucker Family School of Education, The Citadel
I have been attending AACTE’s Day on the Hill (DOTH) for the past 18 years. It is a highlight event of the year, as it allows opportunity to assess our priorities for advocacy while simultaneously putting advocacy into action. Over time, I have found that some of the best advocacy team members are our education students. I have had the privilege of making DOTH congressional visits accompanied by numerous students over the last 8 years – including both undergraduate and graduate students – and, in every case, the students have added value to the conversations well beyond what might have been obtained by faculty and deans alone.
When planning our Hill visits, we ask students to help us deliver important messages about pending legislation or federal education budgets and policies to our congressional members, and they are very effective in doing so. More importantly, we ask our students to tell their own story: Why did they decide to become an educator? How will new policy changes impact them as practicing teachers and school leaders? What can the federal government do to make a career in education more important to other students at their institution? When students visit and present answers to these and other questions, congressional members and staffers take notice.