Telling Our Stories on Capitol Hill

Unrecognizable woman having videocall with her african american boss, using laptop in office, cropped. Lady employee having business training online, business woman talking to partner online, collageIn a couple of weeks, I’ll participate in my first Day on the Hill as a member of the AACTE Committee on Government Relations and Advocacy.  I am really excited by the opportunity and want to invite you to participate.  Like many AACTE members, I have worked with city and state elected officials, policymakers, and representatives from state agencies.  But speaking with members of Congress and their staffs offers an opportunity for even greater engagement.

As leaders in education, AACTE members all know that we must be outward facing, managing our colleges while we tell our story to many stakeholders.  That story is what enticed most of us to get in this line of work in the first place.  We all advocate for our needs and interests all the time, and although our interests may not be identical, they are often closely related regardless of our institutions.  Some of us push for greater equity in teacher preparation programs.  We want to diversify the teacher pipeline and the resultant teacher workforce, knowing how vital representation along the lines of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and sexual identity is to students across the country.

Others advocate for financial support for education students. Teaching, as we all know, is not a lucrative profession, but it is a rewarding one. We want to attract more people to the profession we all cherish by making college attendance economically viable. Others campaign for more research funding to support a core mission of our universities, the generation of new knowledge. We only advance the field if we are working every day to better understand how and why students learn, teachers teach, and principals and superintendents lead. Still others want education professionals to have a greater voice in making policy.  We want to lead the way in making excellent policy, not find ourselves relegated to reacting to the problems we see in our field or critiquing laws after passage that shape our professional lives.

AACTE’s Day on the Hill is one of those moments where we can all come together to make our voices heard.  We can make common cause, sing the same song if not the same verse. Every one of us knows there is much work to be done.  So, come! Tell your story about our needs and desires to the people who most need to hear it.  Make your case for how teacher equity meets the needs of all students, for financial supports of the most important professionals in America, for resources our researchers deeply need, and for a seat at the table when education policy is being debated and developed.  We should all be excited to share our stories and advocate for the needs of our profession and of our colleagues.  On behalf of the Committee on Government Relations and Advocacy, I can say we can’t wait for the opportunity!

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