Annual Meeting Keynote Presenters Address Policy and Practice Post COVID-19
The Opening Keynote session at the virtual AACTE 73rd Annual Meeting included five speakers, each addressing the theme, “Policy and Practice for a Post-Pandemic World.” The keynote presenters were Jack Reed, Alma Adams, Karen Marrongelle, Leslie Fenwick and Elizabeth Warren.
AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone and Edthena CEO Adam Gheller opened the Keynote session with insight about AACTE resources. Gangone talked in depth about the COVID-19 resource hub that AACTE made available through its website, and the state policy tracker map. A tool that helps teachers identify certification and policies in their respective states. Gheller stressed the importance of video observation in today’s educational climate, and how Edthena is helping 20 AACTE Member institutions with a grant to implement its use.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed from Rhode Island was the first speaker. His focus was on the importance of education and our educators. “If we believe that education is the way forward, we must invest in our schools, support our educators, and attract a new generation to the field.” This concept addresses the current shortage of teachers and the need to better align new teachers with students. His hope is to form a new and diverse generation of teachers to better represent the range of their classrooms.
Next, U.S. Congresswoman Alma Adams from North Carolina, spoke about unequal access to education and the disparate achievement outcomes of underfunded schools with students of color. She stated, “Equitable access to quality learning that responds to the times, rectifies historic wrongs and advances justice, aren’t just needed but long overdue.” Adams focused on the importance of access, equity, and excellence not only in the teaching profession, but in education as a whole. She concluded by stating that every student, regardless of the color of their skin, should have access to a high-quality education.
National Science Foundation Assistant Director Karen Marrongelle shared her interest in systemically utilizing current innovations such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) development, and how it can be used to aid in bridging inequalities. “The pandemic has exposed the inequalities in our education system, and we must continue to rethink how we serve students, placing equity and inclusion at the center of our work.” She has been working to bring technological advancements, and research to classrooms, in hopes of bettering the educational system in a post-pandemic world.
AACTE’s Dean in Residence Leslie Fenwick imparted words of wisdom on the state of STEM departments. She highlighted the importance of changing the status quo by recruiting further females of color to fight foundational racism. “We are two decades into the new millennium, with AI collaborating robots, smart phones, and autonomous cars, yet we are still battling foundational racist assertions of those who created western science.” Despite the difficulties during change, she believes that it is an effort the educator preparation community must make together.
In closing, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts recounted how she achieved her dreams through attaining a degree. Her personal story of being a janitor’s daughter who became a teacher, law professor and United States Senator led into a conversation about student loan debt forgiveness and free college education for all. “Our teachers are fighting to help make sure that our kids have access to a high quality, well-rounded education that prepares them for success.” She closed the keynote session emphasizing the importance of teachers in America and how to support them.
A recording of the Annual Meeting Opening Keynote Series will be available soon. Check the aacte.org website for updates.
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