In Arizona: Effort to Reduce Red Tape for Teachers Succeeds with Lawmakers 

State schools chief Tom Horne says the newly passed state budget includes a change that he has long sought: the elimination of the Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) program, which many educators consider an unnecessary bureaucratic requirement and a waste of classroom time. 

“Over time, the KEA had ballooned into an endless morass of paperwork that meant teachers had to spend too much time on bureaucratic requirements versus time with students,” Horne said. “Now the legislature has taken the welcome step of entirely removing the legal requirement for the KEA, which frees up more time for teachers to spend on classroom instruction.” 

U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Releases New Resources on Protecting Students with Disabilities 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released three new resources with information for students, parents and families, and schools addressing the civil rights of students with sickle cell disease, epilepsy, and cancer. OCR issued these resources during a month that marks World Sickle Cell Day and National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week 

The resources inform students with disabilities, and their families and schools, about relevant legal rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities by institutions that accept federal financial assistance, which includes almost all public schools and public and private institutions of higher education. These new resources, which are applicable to all levels of education, explain when these medical conditions trigger protections under Section 504, what kind of modifications an educational institution may need to take to avoid unlawful discrimination, and what an institution may need to do to remedy past discrimination.  

Innovative Program at UNI Leads to Dozens of New Elementary Educators

More than 60 new educators are ready to launch their own elementary school classrooms for the first time, thanks to an innovative new program at the University of Northern Iowa. This group of teachers are the first graduates of the Purple Pathway for Paraeducators program, which launched in 2022 to provide practicing paraeducators a pathway for earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

“This program involved a large amount of work, across multiple departments at the University of Northern Iowa. Thanks to this program, we now have 62 new elementary educators ready to lead their own classrooms,” said Colleen Mulholland, dean of UNI’s College of Education. 

Dickinson State University and Mayville State University Announce Formation of Border to Border Education Consortium

Dickinson State University (DSU) and Mayville State University (MSU) are proud to announce the establishment of the Border to Border Education Consortium. This innovative partnership aims to enhance educational opportunities and resources across North Dakota by combining the strengths of both institutions. The first programs to be launched under this consortium will focus on mathematics and chemistry education, with further exploration into music education programs.

Holly Gruhlke, DSU vice president, expressed her enthusiasm for the new collaboration, stating, “This consortium represents a significant step forward in our mission to provide accessible, high-quality education to students across the state. By pooling our resources and expertise, we can offer programs that are both comprehensive and innovative. The collaborative efforts between our institutions will lead to a richer educational experience for our students. We are excited to begin exploring additional program opportunities.”

AACTE Votes to Suspend 2025 Board Nominations

At its June meeting, the AACTE Board of Directors voted to suspend adding new members to the board in 2025. This decision is based on recommendations by the Board Composition Task Force, which I chair. The board created the task force in June 2023 to review and reexamine the current board structure that has been in place for at least 50 years.

The task force, which is composed of current and former AACTE board leaders, reviewed the literature on best practices in association governance and examined the structures in place at sister organizations. As a result of this study, our preliminary recommendations are to shift from the current representative structure for the Board of Directors — which is a 20th century model — to a competency-based board for which all AACTE members would be eligible. We also recommended reducing the size of the board from 20+ to no more than 12 to facilitate and promote board engagement in all aspects of association governance.

AACTE Welcomes New Holmes Scholars

AACTE’s Holmes Program continues to grow, onboarding new programs and Scholars throughout the summer. Join AACTE in welcoming Holmes Scholars from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Old Dominion University to this vibrant community.   

URI Education Professor Awarded Fellowship to Study Students of Color’s Response to Anti-Black Curriculums

Study will focus on creating and implementing a curriculum grounded in historically responsive literacy and Black historical consciousness.

This article was originally published on the University of Rhode Island’s website and is reprinted with permission.

Tashal Brown, assistant professor of urban education and secondary social studies at the University of Rhode Island (URI), has been awarded a $70,000 Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship grant from the National Academy of Education (NAEd), to research the influence of anti-Blackness in U.S. education and promote comprehensive representations of Black experiences in middle and high school curriculum.

Brown’s project, entitled, “Disrupting Anti-Black Logics in Education: Cultivating Critical Perspectives and Expansive Representations of Black Histories and Cultures in School Curriculum,” explores curricula that neglect Black histories and cultures, often portraying Blackness through a lens of trauma that harms Black students by denying their humanity, promoting deficit narratives, and distorting or prohibiting teaching Black history.

“Drawing from critical race theory and employing intersectional methodologies, the research aims to disrupt prevailing narratives and elevate the voices and experiences of Black students and other youth of color,” Brown said. “These frameworks are designed to authentically engage with students’ backgrounds, identities, and literacy practices, fostering a more inclusive understanding of Blackness.”

University of Arizona Center to Help Lead National Indigenous Language Revitalization Efforts

Photo courtesy of AILDI

A new center at the University of Arizona is one of only four designated by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) to lead a collective effort to empower tribal communities across the country to revitalize and maintain their languages.

A five-year grant of $1.7 million from the Department began funding the new West Region Native American Language Resource Center in the fall. 

The new center, administratively housed in the university’s American Indian Language Development Institute, is one of four inaugural centers doing similar work at other institutions. The others are a national center at the University of Hawaii and three regional centers at the University of Oregon and Little Priest Tribal College in Winnebago, Nebraska. The U of A center will primarily serve Indigenous communities in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah.

UNCP, Sandhills Community College, Moore County Schools Collaborate to Launch New Teacher Pipeline Program 

This article was originally published on the University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s website and is reprinted with permission. 

Moore County Schools Superintendent Tim Locklair, left, Sandhills Community College President Sandy Stewart and UNCP Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke is partnering with Sandhills Community College (SCC) and Moore County Schools (MCS) to combat the teacher shortage while supporting local students pursuing careers in the classroom.  

Representatives from the three institutions introduced the Grow Moore Teachers Pathway Scholarship during a ceremony at SCC on Wednesday. The scholarship is available to students graduating from the Moore County school system. 

Highlighting New Resources from CEEDAR 

Special education teachers and advocates are invited to utilize resources developed by CEEDAR to improve student outcomes, implement new strategies, and gain valuable leadership skills. AACTE collaborates with CEEDAR to offer insights from comprehensive educator preparation programs and educational partners who have excelled in recruiting and preparing candidates to become fully licensed special educators. 

New York Launches Statewide Teacher Recruitment Platform

The New York State Education Department and TEACH are partnering to launch TeachNY.org, a new digitally powered recruitment platform developed in collaboration with a wide coalition of New York schools, districts, institutions of higher education, and education organizations, Commissioner Betty A. Rosa announced. The mission of TEACH New York (TeachNY) is to identify and cultivate the next generation of teachers throughout the state. 

“We must continually design, develop, and implement innovative approaches that nurture a highly skilled, diverse teaching workforce,” Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said. “TeachNY is precisely the kind of initiative that will inspire and ignite the future generation of New York State teachers.” 

Biden-Harris Administration Awards More Than $44 Million to Improve Postsecondary Education Access and Completion for Rural Students  

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced more than $44.5 million for 22 grants under the Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development (RPED) program to improve rates of postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and completion among rural students through the development of high-quality career pathways aligned to high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand industry sectors and occupations in the region. 

“Rural communities face unique challenges in educating, training, and developing high-skill workers—yet they are also home to students with unique skills and potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “These dedicated funds will ensure that students in rural areas have access to postsecondary credentials and other resources that lead to high-quality career pathways and economic success.”  

Jennifer Jackson, Penn State University, Named June 2024 Holmes Scholar of the Month

Promoting Equity and Excellence: Jackson’s Journey in Science Education

The AACTE Holmes Scholars Program is proud to feature Jennifer Jackson, Ph.D., as the June 2024 Holmes Scholar of the Month. Jackson recently defended her dissertation last month and will be graduating in August in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on science education at Pennsylvania State University, where she has distinguished herself through her research, teaching, service, and leadership.

Jackson’s research focuses on how secondary science teachers communicate within professional learning spaces while attending to equitable, culturally responsive pedagogy. Her work explores how providing professional learning opportunities for teachers to engage in identity work can inform their teaching practices and ability to create inclusive science classrooms. Jackson has presented her research at prestigious conferences like the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) and has traveled abroad to present her work in Germany at the 2023 European Science Education Research Association (ESERA) summer school as a summer institute fellow. Additionally, she has several publications in research journals such as the Journal of Science Teacher Education.

A Day on the Hill: Washington Week 2024 Reflection 

Participating in AACTE’s Washington Week as a Holmes Scholar and representing Ohio University on different platforms was truly an enlightening and fulfilling experience. Given my international background, this event was a wonderful occasion for me to learn, share, and actively engage in democratic processes that shape the policy of U.S. education. 

One of the major highlights of the week was our visit to Capitol Hill. The mentorship provided by AACTE’s program was instrumental in preparing state leaders, Holmes Scholars, and other attendees for advocacy on Capitol Hill. It was an exhilarating and impactful experience to address critical issues in the current educational landscape for policymakers and pave the way to see a positive change in the education sector. The advocacy team I was on was comprised of seasoned state leaders. We focused on addressing federal issues that are prevalent across the states, such as quality education, funding for teacher preparation programs, holistic support for teachers, and the need for a diverse teaching workforce. We shared our state’s best practices for tackling these issues with the legislator’s aides.