Member Voices: Rallying Responses to the Federal Regulations

We have an opportunity to make our voices heard. Though the proposed federal regulations for teacher preparation programs were released for comment most inconveniently during the hurly burly of exams and the holidays, I was determined to find a festive, collegial way to engage the faculty and students at my institution in contributing our knowledge and experience by February 2.

AACTE’s challenge to generate 100,000 comments inspired me. There’s no guarantee that the U.S. Department of Education will listen, of course, but an onslaught of letters will hopefully grab their attention. The question for me: How to spur people to actually read and respond to the proposal.

Then I recalled of an approach that had worked well in a similar situation: throw a party! Back in my days as a high school teacher, when I advised the school’s Amnesty International club, our meetings were social and organized around working together to raise our voices. After sharing snacks in a lounge room, students read through the profiles and cases, discussed their merits and concerns as a group, and then individually drafted letters, which I packaged and mailed for them afterward. Our meetings were educational, productive, and fun.

Why not try the same approach for the federal regulations? I decided to invite faculty to my house for a grown-up version of the Amnesty club party, and also invite my students to come early to class for their own letter-writing bash, all in the latter two weeks of January. From my vantage point, if even one person comes, it’s a victory.

I’ll provide the snacks and libations at my house (or in a common meeting room, in the case of the student group). Everyone will bring laptops so they can access documents and draft letters. Together we’ll learn about the regulations, read through the resources developed by AACTE and others, discuss what parts of the proposal matter most to us as educators and in our particular state context, and then each write our own letter to Secretary Duncan.

I hope that face-to-face conversations in a relaxed setting will gin up people’s interest and help them formulate compelling responses. The goal is to come together to participate in the democratic process. Ultimately, I hope, we’ll contribute our fair share of feedback to the Department’s unprecedented intrusion into teacher education.

Editor’s Note: Visit AACTE’s regulations web page for information and links to a variety of resources, and send any questions for us to We’d like to hear from you! Or comment below on any special strategies you are using to raise awareness about the regulations and engage colleagues, students, PK-12 partners, or others. Have you rallied your state chapter around data-sharing challenges? Tapped your resident VAM scholar to speak at a department meeting? Worked with your state education agency to estimate costs or gauge the feasibility of enacting the regulations? Every comment counts!


Jennie Whitcomb

Jennie Whitcomb, Associate Dean, Teacher Education, University of Colorado at Boulder