February 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 state policy and state chapter activity in January 2017, see this blog.

Overview of State Policy Activity

In February, state policy activity continued at a fast pace, as at least 45 state legislatures have started their 2017 sessions. And many are attending to education issues: Since February 1, at least 223 state bills have been introduced that could affect various aspects of educator preparation.

By far the most common topic, addressed in 93 bills from 35 states, relates to certification or licensure standards. One of the major themes of these state bills is streamlining requirements for certain types of licenses and certificates. One bill in Colorado is worrisome because it would allow a rural school district to hire a nonlicensed individual for a vacancy if the school is unable to fill the vacancy after one month.

Of the 223 bills introduced last month, so far, 58 bills have passed the first legislative chamber – which is a sign that the bill will be seriously considered. In New Jersey, one of these bills was signed into law, which requires that educator preparation providers include the equivalent of six credits of instruction or clinical experience in special education. Additionally, the new law requires special education teachers to complete course work on autism spectrum disorder.

Alongside the legislatures, state education agencies have picked up regulatory activity that may have an impact on educator preparation. In February, 11 such regulations were adopted in seven states – Delaware, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Utah. One regulation in Ohio aligns the “alternative resident educator license” for career-technical workforce development programs with new limitations for the state’s teacher residency program. Additionally, nine new regulations were proposed in seven states – Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington.

AACTE’s State Policy Tracker (available to members only!) can keep you up to date on the latest state policy activity; just search by topic and category to learn what’s been introduced or passed in your state and elsewhere. If you would like to receive customized e-mail updates with state policy developments, please contact me at agoldstein@aacte.org.

State Chapter Advocacy Highlights

In February, the Georgia Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (GACTE) partnered with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) and the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL) for a combined Day at the State Capitol with a purpose of “speaking with one voice.” The Day culminated in state House and Senate resolutions commending the three organizations for their contributions to education and to educators and recognizing February 21 as GACTE/PAGE/GAEL Day at the State Capitol. These resolutions were sponsored by key state legislators including Senator Lindsey Tippins (R), chair of the Senate Committee on Education and Youth, and Representative Brooks Coleman (R), chair of the House Committee on Education. Additionally, the joint Day at the State Capitol included numerous meetings with state legislators.

In another instance of state chapter engagement, the New Jersey Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (NJACTE) successfully advocated for language in S 1474/A 2786 that was supported by educator preparation providers. Furthermore, NJACTE advocated in opposition to a proposed regulatory pilot program that would have permitted certain charter schools to hire educators who do not meet current eligibility requirements. This regulation was defeated by the New Jersey Department of Education in a 6-2 vote.

If your institution or state chapter is conducting 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