If it’s back-to-school time, it’s time for the annual Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) International Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. The findings released today, in this 48th year of the survey, show views that are consistent with prior years in many areas and reveal ambivalence about the primary purpose of public education.
As usual, most of the 1,221 adults (especially parents) who participated in the telephone interviews say they like their local public schools, in general, but are less positive about schools elsewhere and about their own schools’ performance in specific areas, ranging from academic rigor to development of students’ critical thinking and teamwork skills. Respondents are notably divided about the chief goals of public education, the degree of freedom that charter schools should have, and the appropriate balance between technology-based and traditional teaching.
AACTE and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities are working collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Education to put together a dynamic Teach to Lead summit this fall related to teacher preparation in the United States. We invite you to apply by September 15 to participate in this event, which will be held November 3-4 in Washington, DC.
The summit will convene teams of educators to focus on the successes and challenges in teacher preparation. If you are developing or currently have partnerships with your local community colleges and school districts, then this event is especially for you. This summit is particularly timely given the presidential election this fall and the implementation/interpretation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. It will be an opportunity to explore our narrative prior to the new administration, which is critical to enable us to spotlight the high-quality work we do with teacher candidates and the children they will serve.
At the recent National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit, the organization’s International Education Study Group released the report No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State. This report culminates a 2-year study by a bipartisan group of state legislators and legislative staff examining the highest performing countries on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to discover common themes across their policies and practices.
As the AACTE Holmes Program has expanded its scope over the past year and brought many new members into the fold, several participants have asked about the program’s history. To supplement the brief overview available on our web site, I am pleased to present the additional backstory below, written by Holmes alumna Phyllis Metcalf-Turner, dean and professor in the Whitlowe R. Green College of Education at Prairie View A&M University (TX).
I am excited to announce an expansion of services through AACTE’s State Policy Tracker, which now provides not only a searchable database of legislation and regulations but also state-specific e-mail alerts for any interested state chapters and member institutions.
The State Policy Tracker is an online tool, launched last November, for member institutions and state chapters to track state legislation and regulations related to educator preparation. Beginning in December 2015, we piloted the e-mail alert program with 17 of AACTE’s state chapters (in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) and two individual member institutions (Bank Street College and Western Governors University). This pilot program distributed state-specific alerts using information from the tracker on pertinent state policy affecting educator preparation.
You frequently hear AACTE champion the virtues of advocacy—of making your voice heard to help land you a place “at the table” rather than “on the menu.” AACTE staff are practiced at this habit, engaging in regular meetings with key officials at the U.S. Department of Education and elsewhere to share the work of the Association and our membership. I am pleased to share that some of these efforts have paid off with an invitation from the Department to collaborate on an upcoming teacher preparation summit.
The Department invited AACTE and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities to be partners on the summit, scheduled for November 3-4 in Washington, DC, as part of the “Teach to Lead” series focused on amplifying teachers’ voice and role in transforming education and related policy. This event will bring teams of educators together to discuss actionable ideas for collaborative, teacher-led improvements to teacher preparation. We are honored to represent you at the table on this critical issue.
Last week, I joined a small group of AACTE staff attending the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) Legislative Summit with over 5,000 state legislators, legislative staff, and trade associations.
One key takeaway from our interactions with state legislators and staff is that they are eager to hear from educator preparation programs. Some of the topics that state legislators referenced as their priorities:
- Examining licensure requirements
- Offering more pathways into the teaching profession
- Boosting the rigor of educator preparation programs
- Aligning the educator pipeline with school districts’ needs and challenges
This month, I visited the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) to participate in a kick-off symposium for the new AACTE Holmes Cadets Program starting there. The participating high school students were a dynamic reminder of why AACTE is expanding the Holmes Program: to support historically underrepresented students pursuing careers in education in order to diversify the field, from PK-12 through the professoriate. I was honored to welcome these passionate Holmes Cadets, who are poised to bring a strong Hispanic/Latino contingent to the teaching profession.
As Americans, one of our most important duties is to participate in our democracy. Although it can be challenging to get out the vote on college campuses, engaged citizenship is one of the desired outcomes of postsecondary education, and we certainly want to nurture in our students a sense of responsibility to participate.
To help students navigate residency requirements, absentee ballots and their filing deadlines, and other voting rules and options, I encourage you to consult the resources compiled by the “Your Vote, Your Voice” campaign. This effort is spearheaded by the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, which includes AACTE and nearly 50 other national higher education organizations.
Are your teacher candidates prepared to work with LGBTQ students? We’d like to learn about your perspectives and practices in our joint survey with the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE), which closes September 15.
In educator preparation, we continually strive to prepare teachers to be more inclusive of and responsive to the range of human diversity their students bring. To help inform this work, it’s useful to survey the field periodically to monitor trends in practice and define a course for moving forward.