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The Nominee the Country Needs to Build Education Back Better

(December 18, 2020, Washington, D.C.) The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement today regarding the new Secretary of Education under the Biden-Harris administration:

“AACTE has happily submitted recommendations and participated in discussions with the Biden Transition Team regarding what is needed to rebuild and revolutionize education. We have highlighted the critical need for a COVID-19 relief bill, provided critical suggestions for the first 100-day executive actions, and contributed ideas for long term strategies and investments.

For the last four years, our nation has suffered from misguided and inadequate leadership at the U.S. Department of Education. This Administration’s failures have taken our nation’s PK-12 schools and system of higher education down a destructive path. While school districts struggle amidst a shortage of educators, with more than 600,000 jobs lost, so too do colleges of education with lowered program enrollment, program closures and faculty layoffs. The educator pipeline is at risk, and the future of our public education system is in jeopardy.

Our nation needs a Secretary of Education who understands the systemic nature of education and how it intersects with every aspect of our society. Public education is the foundation of our democracy, ensuring an educated electorate that governs themselves. As AACTE has conveyed to the incoming administration, our next Secretary of Education must have a proven track record of promoting equity and social justice. The new Secretary must be deeply committed to advancing our nation’s public schools and our institutions of higher education.

AACTE is proud to acknowledge that one of our own, Dean Emeritus of Howard University’s College of Education, Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick, is being considered as a nominee for Secretary of Education. Currently serving as AACTE’s Dean in Residence, Dr. Fenwick has been integrally involved in education and educational equity– from Head Start, to teaching in an urban K-12 school, to Upward Bound, to leading in higher education. She is a co-founder of the Urban Superintendents Academy and has researched equity matters as a published scholar. Her appointments to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and as a member of the Scholarly Advisory Committee for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture demonstrate the breadth and depth of her leadership.

Dr. Fenwick exemplifies those characteristics that AACTE deems essential for the next Secretary of Education. Her broad network of educators across the nation in both higher education and the PK-12 sector, her capacities to build coalitions inside and outside of education settings, as well as her clear record on equity and demonstrated leadership, uniquely qualify her for this position. She would be an excellent choice to develop and lead the Biden Administration’s commitment to build education back better.”