AACTE Sends Policy Priorities to Biden-Harris Education Transition Team
The nation’s transition to the 46th presidential administration are underway. AACTE provided the Biden-Harris Administration’s Education Transition Team with its policy priorities for the coming year. Much of AACTE’s priorities stem from its advocacy throughout the year to increase the federal investment in education in PK-20, with a specific focus on recruiting and sustaining candidates in its education preparation programs.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, educator preparation stands at a dangerous crossroad. The college and university programs that prepare our teachers, principals, school counselors, and other essential education professionals are experiencing a debilitating wave of closures and faculty layoffs.
An October 2020 survey of AACTE members, which include 700 schools, colleges, and departments of education at public and private four-year colleges and universities, revealed that nearly 60% have experienced a decline in undergraduate enrollment due to COVID-19 and 83% have had budget cuts. Fifty percent have already reduced staffing. Rising demand from the PK-12 sector yet shrinking production capacity in our nation’s colleges and universities endangers the prospects of generations of American students who will need a high-quality education in the 21st century to achieve a rich quality of life for themselves and their families.
AACTE proposes the following measures as a path to building back better:
COVID-19 Relief: Quickly pass legislation to support K-12 and higher education so educators can safely and effectively serve students during the pandemic, including funding levels of at least
- $175 billion for public K-12 schools
- $120 billion for colleges and universities including HBCUs, tribal colleges, and Hispanic-serving institutions
To ensure that educator preparation can continue to produce a diverse, well-prepared corps of teachers, especially in shortage areas such as special education, STEM, and English language learning, COVID relief funding should include
- $100 million for Teacher Quality Partnership Grants under Title II of the Higher Education Act (HEA) to prepare teachers for high-need fields and high-need schools
- $300 million for Personnel Preparation under Part D of IDEA to prepare special educators
- $100 million for the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence in HEA to diversify the education workforce
Executive Actions: We encourage President Biden to take the following actions immediately upon taking office:
- If not already enacted, extend the current pause on student loan repayments and interest waiver that expire on December 31, 2020 and forgive student loan debt up to $10,000.
- Reinstate the DACA program, which affects current and future
- Rescind restrictions on the use of critical race theory, which is an essential component of efforts to address structural racism and promote racial justice in
Longer-term Priorities: Looking past the immediate crisis, AACTE seeks changes to the Higher Education Act that will
- provide incentives to students to enroll in and complete high-quality educator preparation programs in high-need fields at institutions of higher education, particularly students who are currently under-represented in the education profession, and
- authorize investments in educator preparation programs at colleges and universities, along with critical state and local partners, to support and expand innovative and successful
AACTE is collaborating with several organizations to assemble a comprehensive set of recommendations for reauthorization of the HEA related to educator preparation. University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook will share those detailed recommendations with the Biden-Harris transition team. Highlights include the following:
- Double the TEACH Grant from $4,000 to $8,000 and ensure that accrual of interest begins only when a recipient can no longer complete their service
- Strengthen the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program and fund the Loan Forgiveness for Service in Areas of National Need program to more effectively support
- Expand grants to institutions under Title II of HEA to include
- Recruitment and Completion Grants
- Teacher Retention Grants
- School Leader and Faculty Professional Development Grants
- Create a new formula grant program for states to create and implement comprehensive plans that address instructional staffing for public education, including equitable distribution of experienced and profession-ready educators, content area needs, special education, multi-language learners, and capacity of educator preparation
AACTE looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration. The challenges before us are considerable, but by working together we can indeed build back better.