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Massachusetts Chapter Members, AACTE Staff Engage at Legislative Summit

Last month, AACTE staff hosted an exhibit at the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) Legislative Summit in Boston, Massachusetts. We also invited leaders of the local AACTE state chapter, the Massachusetts Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE), to join us in the exhibit booth to share their work with attendees. Over 5,000 state legislators, state legislative staff, and trade association representatives attended the conference.

As I learned from last year’s NCSL Legislative Summit (see my takeaways here), state legislators are eager to receive input from teacher educators. One recurring theme from my conversations with state legislators this year was that they are unfamiliar with the major state policy levers pertaining to educator preparation – accreditation, licensure, and program approval. It was good for AACTE staff and MACTE leaders to interact with attendees from dozens of states, including many members of state legislatures’ education committees.

MACTE President Lorne Ranstrom, chair of the Education Department at Eastern Nazarene College, was with me when several attendees stopped by, including legislators from Kentucky, Washington State, Nevada, Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Kansas as well as some international visitors. “I was able to share some about the working relationship that the Massachusetts chapter has with AACTE and how it benefits us in our work with legislators and teacher preparation,” he said. “It was a good learning experience as well to see the variety of groups/organizations working to get the ‘ear’ of legislators.”

Katie Elmes, director of teacher preparation programs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, also said she enjoyed speaking with people from many different countries, “answering questions about education in the U.S. and what role those who prepare educators play in that process.” She also was in the booth when Idaho State Senator Brent Hill, a featured speaker at our recent State Leaders Institute, stopped by. “It was great to be able to give another thanks to Idaho Senator Brent Hill, who gave an outstanding presentation on crafting an elevator pitch when addressing legislators during AACTE Washington Week 2017.”

Education Dean Cheryl A. Stanley of Westfield State University and MACTE president-elect said the NCSL Legislative Summit was an exciting learning experience. “To hear Aaron Goldstein speak with depth and knowledge about AACTE’s mission, policies, and chapter affiliations to various state legislators and interested conference attendees clearly brought to focus why we do the work we do in teacher preparation!” she said.

Although she was only able to attend the last day of the summit, Mary Ann McKinnon, associate dean in the College of Education and Allied Studies at Bridgewater State University and past president of MACTE, got to interact with a legislative visitor from Tennessee, hear about various conference sessions, and explore the exhibit hall. “I enjoyed walking around and talking with all of the special interest groups, political activists, and associations vying for the attention of our state legislators and policy makers,” she noted. “There’s clearly a platform for everything under the sun!”

Next year, the NCSL Legislative Summit will be held in Los Angeles, California. Stay tuned for more details!

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Aaron Goldstein

Manager, State Policy & Relations