‘Tis the Season to Vote: AACTE Online Tools Can Help
Election season is upon us. According to CNN, more than 50 million Americans have already cast their ballot in the 2020 election by mail or by early voting. Some predict that as many as two-thirds of the electorate will have voted before election day arrives on November 3. The remaining third of Americans will go to their neighborhood polling place next Tuesday and cast their vote in person for the men and women they want to see run their cities, municipalities, states and the country. Across the nation, hundreds of political offices are up for grabs and thousands of men and women have registered to have their names placed on the ballot. Some of the names will be familiar to voters, many more will not be. For those seeking information about candidates and candidate positions on education, AACTE is keenly positioned to help.
AACTE monitors federal policies that support and impact the teaching profession in general and teacher preparation in particular. Issue briefs, created by the national office, contain detailed information about the national legislative priorities of the association. These briefs explore subjects of particular importance to educators such as education funding and student loans, trends in teaching, and educating special needs students and students of color. The information gathered in these briefs can be used to assess the educational priorities of political candidates on the state, municipal, or federal ballots. In a similar vein, members might also consider using the Federal Legislative Priorities document created for 2020 Washington Week. The document distills a handful of core association priorities such AACTE’s support for Teacher Quality Partnership Grants and robust special education funding. The document can be a helpful guide to members assessing the work of current federal officials.
The AACTE website also has tools for researching the backgrounds and policy priorities of state elected officials. Members can use the Find Your Legislator feature to research the legislative record and professional history of a candidate, or by inserting the name of that candidate into the search engine, members can review the education-related legislation introduced by that official in current and past years. That information can, in turn, be compared to AACTE priorities so to assess whether the candidate’s priorities support the priorities of AACTE and the teaching profession.
AACTE does not endorse political candidates, nor does it track the candidates on ballots who do not currently hold office, but there is a site, Ballotpedia, that AACTE staff have found to be a useful resource for seeking to find such information. Ballotpedia tracks a range of elected and appointed officials from first-time candidates to incumbents at the federal, state, and local levels of government. Even judges standing for election and local ballot measures can be found there. Whether you are seeking information about candidates running for school boards or you just want to learn how to request an absentee ballot, this resource can help.
We encourage you to use the many resources described here as you assess all the candidates for public office in your state, their political platforms and as you seek to identify which candidates support education, the teaching profession and teacher preparation.