AACTE 2017 Washington Week Recap

During the AACTE Washington Week, June 4-7, teacher educators, preservice teachers, and PK-12 school administrators united under the event theme “Diverse Perspectives, Deep Partnerships, One Profession.” The convening brought together attendees from across the nation to discuss important education policies and advocate for educator preparation with members of Congress and their staff.

State Leaders Institute

The week’s events kicked off June 4 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, where AACTE state chapter leaders participated in the State Leaders Institute (SLI). They were joined this year by state representatives from the Association of Teacher Educators.

In her welcoming remarks, Ena Shelley, chair of the executive committee of the Advisory Council of State Representatives, challenged participants to “dare greatly” and hold legislators accountable by starting with “why” when engaging them. In the keynote address, Idaho State Senator Brent Hill, President Pro Tempore of the Idaho Legislature, emphasized the necessity of promoting civil discourse to effectively address critical issues impacting educator preparation. Throughout the 2-day event, the state leaders participated in interactive activities and small-group discussions focused on state education policies and chapter work.

“One of my greatest takeaways from the State Leaders Institute is the importance of understanding what’s going on in our state and to see that the same thing is going on across all states,” said SLI participant Katie Elmes, director of teacher preparation at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA).

Holmes Summer Policy Institute

On June 5, the Holmes Summer Policy Institute celebrated the highest attendance ever as Holmes students in high school, undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs came together with alumni to develop their advocacy voices and discuss the effect education policies have on research and programming for minority populations.

The day began with a keynote address from Antoinette M. Rogers, a Holmes Scholars alumna who now directs the office of teaching and learning at the Virginia Education Association. She reflected on her experience as a Holmes Scholar and how the program helped her become the leader she is today.

“To successfully finish your graduate program, earn your degree, and develop essential skills, you’ve got to dig deeper,” said Rogers, whose father was a fisherman. “Use your fishing pole by applying your experiences now to look for the areas of research that haven’t been explored in order to make a difference and set goals.”

The Holmes participants went on to enjoy a full day of workshops and panel discussions on provocative topics such as the future of education, what effective advocacy looks like, and student involvement in the community. Panelists included Leah Dozier Walker from the Virginia Department of Education, Oliver Spurgeon III from the National Association of Community Health Centers, Tiffany Cain from the National Education Association’s Teacher Quality division, and Kimberly Bertocci from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

“Part of the challenge we have is to live in the challenge,” said AACTE President/CEO Lynn M. Gangone in her remarks to the Holmes group. “There’s no better time than now to step into advocacy and let your voice be heard.”

Day on the Hill

During the June 6 orientation segment of AACTE’s Day on the Hill, attendees learned about current and upcoming activity in Washington, developed action plans for professional advocacy, and heard from congressional staffers about best practices for developing relationships with legislators. The event culminated with a visit to Capitol Hill on June 7, starting with a breakfast and presentation of the AACTE Congressional Leadership Award to lawmakers who helped rescind the teacher preparation regulations (see this article). Then participants took to the halls of Congress to advocate for educator preparation in meetings with their elected officials and staffers.

Key Takeaways

When asked about their greatest takeaway from Washington Week, here’s what some of this year’s attendees had to say:

  • “Being able to see how advocacy plays a role in my own research. I plan to implement the strategies I learn here at this conference in my own research.” – Tytianna Wells-Smith, University of Louisville (KY)
  • “My greatest takeaway was the coaching and mentorship aspect of Day on the Hill.” – Noah Gilbert, Miami University (OH)
  • “Seeing the local issues playing out on a national level in terms of supporting each other in education, that’s the big picture.” – Kathleen McNamara, Stonehill College (MA)

Did you miss this year’s Washington Week? View our collection of event photos on AACTE’s Facebook page, read participants’ tweets at #AACTEWW17, and check out AACTE’s first Facebook Live interviews with our new president/CEO at the event.

As Trish Parrish, chair of the AACTE Committee on Government Relations and Advocacy, said, “Advocacy needs to be year round, at federal and state levels.” So take advantage of the tools and resources available in AACTE’s Advocacy Center to continue supporting educator preparation (#supportedprep) in your state and local area throughout the year!

AACTE celebrated record attendance at the Holmes Summer Policy Institute this year.
U.S. Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY) speaks with Holmes Scholars from the University of Louisville, with Dean Ann Larson looking on, during AACTE’s Day on the Hill.

Idaho State Senator Brent Hill, President Pro Tempore of the Idaho Legislature, speaks at the State Leaders Institute.
AACTE members from Massachusetts visit Capitol Hill to attend congressional meetings during Day on the Hill.

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Jerrica Thurman

Director of Marketing & Communications, AACTE

Shawn Karim

AACTE, Intern