AACTE Is Advocating for You
Through AACTE’s conferences, meetings, surveys, and even informal conversations, AACTE staff members stay well informed about the successes and challenges of your educator preparation programs (EPPs). The government relations team is particularly attuned to the challenges where the federal government can play an important role in contributing to solutions and is in regular touch with members of congress and their staffers. AACTE provides input into legislative proposals, offering feedback as to why a provision may or may not be effective and providing information from you about current trends—including the impact of the transition to remote teaching because of COVID-19, ongoing racial injustice, declining enrollment in EPPs, the cost of college, and financial challenges future educators will face.
AACTE is an amplifying voice between you, members who are doing the important work in the field, and policy makers, who need to understand what is happening in the field to offer sound policy recommendations. Recently, President Biden announced the American Families Plan, which includes an unprecedented $9 billion to help address our nation’s teacher shortage. The plan calls for, among other things, doubling the annual amount of TEACH grants from $4,000 to $8,000 per year; $2.8 billion for year-long, paid teacher residency programs and Grow Your Own programs; $400 million for teacher preparation at minority-serving institutions (MSIs); $900 million for the preparation of new special educators; $1.6 billion for educators to obtain additional certifications in high-demand fields such as special education and bilingual education; and $2 billion to support the development of teachers as leaders and high-quality mentorship programs for new teachers and teachers of color.
AACTE has lauded the Administration for this important and remarkable proposal and is already talking with congressional offices about how it can move forward.
This is not the only area in which AACTE is active. Earlier this year, President Biden signed in to law the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), which includes $122 billion for the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund. These funds are provided to state educational agencies and school districts to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students. AACTE encourages you to collaborate with your local partner districts to allocate some of the ARP ESSER funds towards strengthening the educator pipeline by supporting residency models, grow-your-own programs, and other innovative approaches to develop a pathway into teaching. Districts may not be aware that these funds can be used to address pipeline shortages, so your advocacy with your partner districts will make all the difference.
AACTE is also working with Members of Congress on important legislation that will help our nation recover from the pandemic and ensure that the next generation of educators are ready to step into the classroom prepared to teach. We have sent letters to congress and the administration with specific policy recommendations, which may result in legislation or increased funding for programs important to us.
Most recently, AACTE sent its appropriations requests to congress for Fiscal Year 2022. Each year, congress must pass 12 appropriations bills that largely fund federal agencies and the programs they administer (failure to pass these bills can result in a government shutdown). To help with this process, AACTE sent to members of congress our funding recommendations for specific programs, including $100 million for Teacher Quality Partnership Grants, $300 million for Special Education Personnel Preparation, and a call to double both the maximum Pell Grant and the TEACH grant.
AACTE is excited to launch its new advocacy platform in the coming weeks. It will enable you to contact your congressional delegation easily and quickly with a pre-populated message about funding levels and other legislative matters. It makes all the difference when congressional offices hear from you – their constituents! Stay tuned for these important opportunities.