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Commentary: The U.S. Must Focus on Improving Teacher Retention

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

As educators, we are responsible for preparing students for life after graduation. Thus, many of our debates focus on optimizing the student experience: things we should do – or not do – to create a well-rounded individual who is ready to take on his or her next challenge, whether it’s a job, college, or the sixth grade. Far too often, however, we focus entirely on the people who sit in classrooms and neglect the people who stand in front of them. Educational policies must make sense for students, yes, but they must make sense for teachers, too.

Exchange of Ideas, Not Brainwashing, a Hallmark of College Experience

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

In certain circles, it is popular to view colleges and universities as the embodiment of an intolerant “education establishment” driven more by liberal ideology than by valued learning experiences. Particularly with the recent leadership transition in Washington, DC, espousers of this view have grown bolder in their accusations of brainwashing and progressive elitism in higher education. These claims are frustrating in that they betray a lack of familiarity with the mission of our institutions, but they are also dangerous: if used to erode public support for higher education, they will further impede access by those most in need.

While we welcome constructive criticism of our work, statements that delegitimize higher education are counterproductive and must be challenged. When officials suggest that professors are deviously indoctrinating students with a limited, biased, and distorted set of beliefs, such intimation is demeaning to faculty and students alike. And after 35 years in higher education, I can attest to the utter falseness of this assumption.

Commentary: Stand Up for Education Funding

The education budget released by the White House this week would have devastating consequences for public schools and millions of students nationwide. Standing up for these students by advocating for federal funding must be a critical focus for participants in AACTE’s Washington Week in June.

The president wants to cut $9.2 billion of funding for federal education initiatives such as college work-study programs and public-service loan forgiveness. Overall, his budget would cut, gut, or eliminate nearly two dozen programs, including after-school initiatives that help upwards of 1.6 million students, most of whom attend low-resource schools. In addition, this budget does not provide funding for mental-health services, anti-bullying efforts, physical education, or Advanced Placement courses—not to mention Teacher Quality Partnership grants or other key teacher-quality programs.

Lynn Gangone Named Next President and CEO of AACTE

Lynn Gangone
Dr. Lynn M. Gangone

As chair of the AACTE Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce that effective June 1, the next president and CEO of AACTE will be Dr. Lynn M. Gangone. She was selected by unanimous decision of the Executive Search Committee following an extensive search process that involved the Board, staff, and our soon-to-retire President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson. Please join me in welcoming her to AACTE!

Gangone has exemplary strengths in four core areas important to AACTE:

Reflections on Professional Identity, Public Education, and Sharon Robinson

As we prepare to say goodbye to Sharon Robinson, it is important to recognize her contributions in more than a decade of service to AACTE. Leaders of the Board of Directors will be sharing tributes to Sharon’s vision and leadership over the next few weeks before her successor is named. Today, I am honored to offer my thoughts on where AACTE stands, thanks to her work, and the Association’s future role as a leading voice for educator preparation in America.

Sleepless in Seattle – and Everywhere Else, Too

For educators and those who prepare them, sleepless nights over recent national events have unfortunately become all too frequent. The most recent public discourse regarding the confirmation of the new U.S. Secretary of Education has certainly contributed to our level of concerns. In a recent op-ed I wrote that was published in The Virginian-Pilot, “Educational Objects in the Mirror,” I asked if perhaps these events are distracting us from our real worries. As dean of the Darden College of Education at Old Dominion University (VA), I realize that what really keeps me up at night is my state and local concerns – especially the growing shortage of teachers.

The need for more teachers is a cry that I hear on a daily basis from local schools. Recently, I was aghast to find out that in my state, the Commonwealth of Virginia, elementary teachers are now included on the shortage list. Those of us in the profession recognize the significance of the state’s shortage of elementary teachers. If that group of new professionals is diminishing, we really do have some sleepless nights ahead of us.

Listen to Mom: Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Plate

Many of us growing up with siblings remember being told to “keep your eyes on your own plate” when issues arose or squabbles began. Those words come to my mind when reflecting on the current distractions hounding teacher education. Even as we actively promote the need for educators to think and act as one profession and to engage with various external groups, we also must not forget to mind our own business.

In addition to the uncertainty around the outcome of today’s highly contentious national election, many other factors are competing for our attention and causing us anxiety. The teacher preparation program regulations are now official, and so is the Every Student Succeeds Act. The nation is rapidly moving toward a major teacher shortage, and despite our very best efforts, we have not been able to make a significant dent in diversifying the profession. Our many critics continue to share their views on the state of university-based teacher preparation programs, and our national-level accrediting agency is still working to rise to the level it should in order to assist programs in meeting standards and improving their work. To my mind, we all could benefit from Mom’s mantra: Keep your eyes on your own plate.

Farewell to a Truly Great Teacher

The recent passing of Muhammad Ali was a sad time for many. Although I was not particularly a boxing fan, I count myself among the millions of individuals around the world who were significantly impacted by Ali’s teachings. As educators and teacher educators, we stand to benefit from discussing and embracing the steadfast resolve shown by this great legend.

My fascination and admiration with Ali began with a personal encounter while I was attending college in Pennsylvania. The champ trained for some of his boxing matches in Deer Lake, PA. Upon a Saturday night whim, a group of friends and I decided to visit his training camp. We arrived there not realizing that there were actually regular visiting hours—and unfortunately, we had missed them.

The Year Ahead: Opportunities and Challenges for AACTE and Our Field

I am honored to assume the role of chair of AACTE’s Board of Directors at such an exciting time for the organization and the profession as a whole. Nine weeks into my yearlong term, I’m eager to share my excitement with you about the work we’re doing together.

Most visible so far is our focus on accreditation, particularly our efforts to initiate a collaborative dialogue with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This dialogue aims to address concerns expressed by many AACTE members while continuing our support for CAEP as the field’s unified accrediting body.

Although important—in fact, critical—for our field, our work with CAEP is but one of a large portfolio of topics on AACTE’s agenda.

CAEP Board Chair Responds to AACTE Resolution

Renée Middleton and I recently (April 14) wrote a blog post updating readers on AACTE’s work related to a resolution passed in February by the AACTE Board of Directors in regard to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This resolution reaffirmed our association’s commitment to CAEP and also cited concerns that have been raised by many AACTE members. Our blog provided a context for the work that AACTE seeks to undertake in collaboration with the leadership of CAEP, which AACTE supports as a single unified accrediting system for our field.

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