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Washington Week Viewpoint: A Day on the Hill

In a recent Q&A with AACTE, Lisa Bisogno, associate dean, College of Education, Associate professor of special education Northeastern State University, shares her viewpoint as a 2020 AACTE Washington Week Day on the Hill participant.

Why do you believe it is important for AACTE members to actively advocate for education?

It is greatly beneficial for higher education institutions from their designated states to express the barriers encountered by teacher preparation programs as one collective unit to their elected officials. More often than not, legislators may not be aware of the obstacles our teacher preparation programs are confronting and their impact on school districts in surrounding communities. You can learn how to advocate for the importance of the Higher Education Act, Teacher Quality Grants, and other fiscal appropriations that pertain to teacher preparation in the hopes that legislators will move it to the forefront of their agenda. This is a time when universities can come together to advocate the need for teacher preparation to be an equitable education for all children.

Does the virtual session have the same value as the in-person meetings with representatives/senators?

Considering this was my first Day on the Hill, I do not have the comparison to in-person meetings other than legislation visits within my state. However, I would emphasize that the virtual sessions aided in easing my nerves during our virtual congressional visit and provided adequate practice for when the opportunity presents itself for in-person congressional visits. Another wonderful aspect of the virtual annual meeting is the cost efficiency by saving on travel and the ability to access the sessions following the conference.

How can attendees best prepare for the event?

If you and other colleagues plan to attend, try role-playing a congressional visit. This role-playing will allow for some preliminary practice when you visit with your senator or congressman/congresswoman.

What are the greatest takeaways you received from last year’s event?

I was able to identify which legislators had a passion for education and who were willing to listen to our story. We had a large group from our state representing numerous universities, and the comradery experienced with one shared goal and vision was awe-inspiring.

Do you have any advice for attendees?

The more colleagues and representation from numerous universities that attend from your state, the more you will discover a common theme your universities have and the more you will be able to effectively advocate when conducting your congressional visits. Most importantly, have fun!

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