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Posts Tagged ‘federal issues’

AACTE Day on the Hill – Come Join the Advocacy Fun!

Why bother engaging in advocacy?

As we say on AACTE’s Advocacy Center: “It sounds funny, but at least where public policy is concerned, it’s true: If you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu. The educator preparation profession engages in advocacy to help shape policy that will affect the field. While AACTE advocates on behalf of the profession at the federal level, your voice as a constituent is also critical – in Washington, DC, as well as in state and local issues.”

TEACH Grant Sequester Cuts Continue; Maximum Award Down to $3,724

In an announcement on the Federal Student Aid website, the U.S. Department of Education has outlined cuts to this year’s award amounts for TEACH Grants, reducing grants by 6.9% for the year that started October 1, 2016.

This cut, which brings the maximum TEACH grant award down from $4,000 to $3,724, is due to the federal budget sequester. (See this helpful FAQ on what sequester means for the federal budget, or this report from the Congressional Research Service for much more technical information.) Along with other sequestration-mandated cuts in federal funding, the TEACH grants have undergone reductions since 2013 ranging from 6.8 to 12.6%. An e-mail to financial aid administrators last year spelled out the most recent cuts.

Darling-Hammond: Time to Keep Our Hand on the Plow (Hold On!)

The 2017 AACTE Speaker Spotlight Session featured a rousing address from Linda Darling-Hammond, who encouraged educators to persist in their focus on educational equity and advocacy despite the barrage of obstacles and distractions in the current environment.

Although teacher educators have been hard at work and have much to celebrate, she said, there is not a moment to relax in confronting the challenges of the day. Citing issues such as child homelessness, access to healthcare, funding cuts, and policy centered on “testing without investing,” she urged attendees to step up their work with candidates to engage in equity-focused practices. Recent surges in racist and anti-immigrant incidents further hamper students’ well-being and ability to learn.

Teacher Prep Regulations Rescinded

On March 27, the federal regulations for teacher preparation programs were rescinded, along with other regulations (including those for the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, regarding accountability, state plans, and data). Your advocacy and efforts over the last 6 years since this endeavor began have paid off!

Your Title II data reporting and the state report cards are still required by law. Remember, the regulations were on top of what you were already required to do through the Higher Education Act.

President’s FY18 Budget Blueprint Includes Deep Cuts to Education

Today, President Trump issued a blueprint of his budget request for Fiscal Year 2018 that includes a 13% cut to education spending, eliminating or dramatically reducing funding for several programs of importance to educator preparation.

As with any new presidential administration, this request was issued late in the typical fiscal cycle and is more of a blueprint than a full budget request. This overview articulates priorities, but we will have to wait for details in the full request expected later this year. The blueprint conveys a clear focus on cutting programs, deregulating, and streamlining the federal government.

Being Accountable for Program Effectiveness

The colleges and universities that prepare our nation’s educators are deeply committed to program quality, innovation, and accountability, and important progress is under way in each of these areas at the institutional, state, and national levels. While our priorities are unchanged by the presence or absence of federal regulations, the regulations that were voted down by Congress last week would have impeded this progress by redirecting already-tight resources to create an onerous new reporting and rating system for teacher preparation programs. Now, thanks to the robust advocacy efforts of the field, our professional commitments can proceed unhampered by burdensome mandates and prescriptive-yet-unproven methods.

Absent these regulations, educator preparation providers (EPPs) participate in numerous public reporting and quality assurance systems. Both EPPs and states are required by Title II of the Higher Education Act to submit annual reports to the U.S. Department of Education, and states must report at-risk and low-performing programs. Programs also must meet state review standards, and several states have developed data dashboards that display information for all providers to help the public compare program quality. A plurality of EPPs also undergo national examination through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation – a professional peer-review process using standards that are developed by the field and based on research.

Resolution to Rescind the Teacher Prep Regs Awaits President’s Signature

Your advocacy and that of your colleagues, partners, and students has paid off: A joint resolution to rescind the U.S. Department of Education’s regulations for teacher preparation programs has passed both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and now awaits the president’s signature.

Since the initiation of negotiated rule making in 2011, these regulations have been contentious – even negotiated rule making did not reach consensus. In October 2016 when the final rule was released, a coalition of 35 organizations, including AACTE, signed a statement highlighting concerns with the final product. (For highlights of what the regulations entailed, you can read AACTE’s overview of the final rule or watch our webinar overview.)

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