January 2017 State Policy Recap

Ed Prep Matters is pleased to bring you this special feature on state policy and AACTE state chapter activity. For a recap of all state policy and state chapter in 2016, check out this blog.

Overview of State Policy Activity

This month has seen a landslide of state legislative action as the vast majority of state legislatures have convened for their 2017 legislative session. Since January 1, at least 164 state bills have been introduced that could impact various aspects of educator preparation.

By far the most common topic, addressed in 79 bills from 26 states, relates to certification standards. Some of the main themes of these state bills are modifying the process and standards for out-of-state educators seeking a professional certificate, streamlining certification requirements for early childhood educator qualifications, and opening pathways into the profession for veterans and military spouses. One bill in Maine is particularly troubling because it would allow provisional licenses to be issued to individuals who did not complete an approved educator preparation program but did complete the following requirements: pass a criminal history check, receive a certificate from a nonprofit organization supported by the U.S. Department of Education, and hold a bachelor’s degree.

Of the 164 bills introduced, so far, only six have passed the first legislative chamber – which is a sign that the bill will be seriously considered. In Illinois, one of these bills was signed into law, which streamlines licensure for out-of-state applicants who have similar existing licenses. Additionally, the new law reduces fees for retired educators who seek to return to the classroom as substitute teachers.

On the state regulatory side, many states have also focused on regulations that may impact educator preparation providers. In January, five regulations were adopted in four states – Alaska, Indiana, New York, and Utah. One regulation in New York will create additional safety nets for content specialty requirements. Additionally, six regulations were proposed in five states – Delaware, New York, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia.

Over the next several months, state legislative activity, in particular, will continue at a rapid pace. You can track these state activities yourself using AACTE’s online State Policy Tracker, or contact me if you would like to receive e-mail updates with the latest policy developments in your state.

State Advocacy Priorities

A report released recently by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities highlights the top 10 higher education state policy issues for 2017, one of which is higher education funding. The report notes that funding higher education poses a particular challenge for states that have lagging tax revenues and deficit projections; the National Association of State Budget Officers has determined that 24 states have state budget revenues below forecasted levels for the current fiscal year. While higher education funding remains vulnerable to cuts, it is important for institutions to collaborate with other colleges and universities to advocate for adequate funding and articulate the impact that additional reductions would have.

If your institution or state chapter is conducting any advocacy activities such as meetings with state legislators or hosting a state day at the capitol, please share your story with me at agoldstein@aacte.org. For support with your advocacy efforts, please consult the new AACTE Advocacy Center for resources related to both federal and state-level advocacy.

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Aaron Goldstein

Manager, State Policy & Relations