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Day on the Hill: An Intern’s Perspective

AACTE intern Samuel Santos (second from left) joined this New York delegation June 6 at AACTE’s Day on the Hill.

My summer internship with AACTE started during the 2018 Washington Week, and I had the privilege of not only witnessing the week’s events but also accompanying members on their congressional visits during Day on the Hill.

My fellow interns and I were each paired with different scholars who took us along with them and acted as our mentors during the Hill visits June 6. I was paired up with Jacob Easley II, dean of the Graduate School of Education at Touro College in New York City. Along with other members from New York State, we spent most of the day meeting with representatives, senators, and their staff to advocate for AACTE’s current legislative agenda.

In total, we visited the offices of five different members of Congress: Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Representative Peter King (R-NY), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Representative Grace Meng (D-NY).

When meeting with these officials, the delegation really wanted to focus on a few key issues as well as inquire about their support for recent legislation that will have a significant impact on teacher education programs.

One of my group’s main priorities was advocating for the continuation of current funding levels for programs such as the Teacher Quality Partnership grants, which are authorized in Title II, Part A of the Higher Education Act and currently have $43.1 million in funding.

One of the topics discussed in each of these meetings was the PROSPER Act, which is expected to be brought to the floor of the U.S. House soon for a vote. The bill, which AACTE opposes in its current form, would essentially eliminate federal funding to teacher education programs as well as funding for public-service loan forgiveness programs.

As a college student hoping to work with both education and policy in my future, it was truly inspiring to see the process of discussing an issue in theory all the way to action, in real time, within the matter of a few days. While my classmates and I sometimes feel as though our voices aren’t being heard or aren’t valuable enough, AACTE’s Washington Week exemplified for me just how impactful you can be when you organize, educate, and prepare a group of dedicated individuals with a common goal. It doesn’t matter so much where you come from, or what state or institution you represent, but that you combine your voices to make a difference for everyone.

For more information on AACTE’s Washington Week, read this recap article. You can also download the agendas from the week’s events at https://aacte.org/professional-development-and-events/washington-week.

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Samuel Santos

AACTE Intern