New Year, Renewed Hope
“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.”
– G.K. Chesterton
Happy New Year!
The year 2020 was a tumultuous one for educators. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought educator preparation to a dangerous crossroad, with teachers, principals, school counselors, and other essential education professionals experiencing a debilitating spate of closures and faculty layoffs. The public education workforce lost more than 600,000 jobs last year, with university-based educator preparation programs also encountering reduced enrollment and program closures. Our members have experienced declines in undergraduate enrollment, budget cuts, and reduced staffing. Rising demand for new teachers and shrinking capacity in colleges and universities threatens the high-quality education our populace needs to ensure a rich quality of life and global competitiveness for generations. But as we begin the new year, we look toward 2021 with a renewed sense of hope and optimism for the future.
As our country prepares for a transfer of power, we at AACTE will work closely with the Biden-Harris team to “build back better.” We support the new administration’s education priorities, ensuring that no child’s future will be determined by their race or socio-economic background and striving to make higher education affordable to everyone. Many college students preparing to become teachers shoulder an inordinate amount of debt, ultimately acting as a deterrent to entering the field of teaching, especially among students of color.
In a letter sent from AACTE to the Biden-Harris transition team last November, we shared our list of 2021 Federal Policy Priorities and the measures we propose as a path forward to building back better. Our core legislative priorities for this year include the following:
- Ensuring sufficient funds for PK-12 and higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to operate schools safely
- Investing in and strengthening the profession of teaching
- Keeping PK-12 public funds in public education
- Revolutionizing educational systems and practices to better serve all learners, ensuring social justice and equity for all students—especially students of color, those with disabilities, immigrant students, and LGBTQIA+ students
- Increasing the federal investment in education from pre-school through graduate school
In 2020, humanity experienced more anxiety and stress than most of us have seen in a lifetime. But I, for one, feel optimistic about the start of the new year, and am confident that the continued support of our members will enable us to fully execute our mission of elevating education and educator preparation through research, professional practice, advocacy, and collaboration.
I hope you and your loved ones had a happy and safe holiday season. Let us face 2021 together with renewed clarity, strength, and enthusiasm.