We all know educator preparation is held accountable at the state level. That is why the ability to advocate and engage with your state elected official and agencies is such a consequential part of developing and preparing educators. For those interested in engaging with their elected officials, the question then becomes, where do I start and how can I build the strong relationships that are such a vital part of effective advocacy?
On March 14, the members of the AACTE Government Relations and Advocacy Committee hosted a webinar to address these and other important questions. The organizing theme of the webinar was identifying and constructing the building blocks of effective and productive engagement with legislators, their staff, and key regulators at the state level.
During the AACTE 2019 Annual Meeting in Louisville, Yolanda Carter, chair of the Kentucky Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (KACTE), met with me and AACTE Director of Marketing and Communications Jerrica Thurman to discuss a range of statewide education and teacher preparation issues. Carter shared with us how KACTE is working to further diversify the incoming teacher pool and the goals the state chapter plans to pursue in the months ahead.
What are the pressing challenges in education and teacher prep in Louisville and Kentucky?
One of the bigger things is how to get all teachers on board with teaching in a culturally responsive way. How do we get more diverse teachers into the field and reconfigure the programs to get more students engaged? In Kentucky, the Board of Education has been merged with the Kentucky Professional Standards Board. An umbrella office was created to oversee and pursue effective leadership strategies. This development creates an opportunity to look at regulations that impact K-12 schools regarding teaching certificates, counseling etc. KACTE is working with the board and other relevant educational entities in the state to figure out how best to work together for the benefit of students, teacher candidates and institutions of higher education.
Ohio recently proved that collaboration across education stakeholders can increase communication and partnerships, as well as shape state legislation.
In fall 2017, a superintendent group representing the Western Ohio Advocacy Network (WOAN) worked with Ohio Senator Matthew Huffman to craft the Ohio School Deregulation Act (SB216), intended to increase local control of education. The initial bill proposed reverting back to having only two general education licensure bands: Grades 1-8 and 7-12, a radical departure from Ohio’s existing licensure bands: PK- 3, 4-9, and 7-12. SB 216 also proposed moving teacher licensure bands from Ohio’s Administrative Code (controlled by the Ohio Department of Education) to Ohio’s Revised Code (with legislative oversight), which meant that any future changes would require legislative action.
Members of the Washington Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (WACTE) met with Washington state lawmakers during WACTE’s inaugural “Day on the Hill” earlier this year—an effort to familiarize legislators with teacher preparation programs across the state, present ourselves as resources to legislators on teacher preparation and K-12 education, and articulate the WACTE agenda/priorities.
In the state of Washington, the legislative process is nothing like academia, where it can take a year from proposal to approval for a new program or process. The legislative sessions move at a furious pace. A bill can be amended to do something completely different than the original intent, and a legislative lobbyist can prevent the legislative process from “getting away from you before you know it.”
AACTE has awarded five state chapters the 2018-19 AACTE State Chapter Support Grant. The recipients are as follows:
- New Jersey
Each year, AACTE and the Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR) Executive Committee select recipients of the State Chapter Support Grants to help strengthen the capacity of the chapters on various levels, including advocacy and statewide collaboration to meet key challenges, as well as strengthen AACTE’s relationship with state chapters.
As a new state chapter of AACTE, the Montana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MTACTE) focused on the development of a basic infrastructure during the 2017-18 academic year. Our primary goals in establishing MTACTE were threefold:
- To create an effective voice within Montana for educator preparation programs (EPP) to address pressing policy matters, such as a rural teacher shortage
- To link national and state policy information systems
- To foster collaboration among EPPs to strengthen educator preparation across the state.
In case you missed it in State Directions, AACTE’s state-focused monthly e-newsletter, the ACSR Executive Committee created two new ad-hoc committees in response to participants’ feedback at the 2018 State Leaders Institute during AACTE’s Washington Week in June.
The two ad-hoc committees will focus on:
AACTE has an active network of state chapters across the country, and would like to help promote what’s happening in your local chapter through its communication channels. Is your state chapter providing activities to share best practices, engage on solutions to challenges, or advance professional skills? If yes, then please share your event details with AACTE!
Whether your state chapter convening varies from monthly meetings to large conferences in the spring and fall, AACTE would like to promote your event details on the state chapter and events pages of its website. If you are a state chapter leader, please take a moment to complete a short online form for each chapter meeting and conference that will take place during the 2018-19 academic year.
The North Dakota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education received a 2017-2018 AACTE State Chapter Support Grant for work on supervisor training modules to enhance the reliability and utility of the state’s new student teacher observation tool. Other AACTE chapters have also recently pursued collaborative work around assessment instruments, including those in Kansas and Ohio.
In 2016, the 12 member institutions of the North Dakota state chapter of AACTE collaborated to develop a student teacher observation tool (STOT). We were seeking a high-quality instrument to facilitate program improvement through meaningful, valid, and reliable data. We also knew that working together decreased the workload for all and leveraged resources and expertise across campuses. Finally, we were interested in adding to the common metrics used statewide to enable continued collaboration to improve teacher preparation in North Dakota.
The AACTE Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR) seeks nominations by October 12 of state chapter leaders to run in an election for the ACSR Executive Committee. The positions open for election are the West Region representative, Northeast Region representative, and ACSR chair-elect, all to take office in March 2019.
Terms and Roles