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Washington Week was Life-Changing Experience for Undergrad Student

AACTE’s Washington Week was a “a life-changing experience.” The event was a revelation that highlighted the courageous leadership we have within our nation. These leaders are devoted and determined to make sure education is not forgotten nor are educators overlooked. I have always had respect for the leaders that made the decision to go into education. I have even more appreciation for those who do not sweep the issues in education under the rug and tell it like it is.

It was an honor to hear from Lodriguez Murray, senior vice president of public policy at the United Negro College Fund. Murray’s session titled, Educator Diversity: Enhancing the Black Teacher Pipeline through Public Policy, gave me more insight on the things I was not too familiar with when it came to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Murray discussed the Augustus Hawkins Program, which in 2022 is the first year this program is being funded despite it being passed and signed into law in 2008 by President George W. Bush. The Honorable Augustus Hawkins Centers for Excellence public law is intended to increase the number of effective minority educators by expanding and reforming teacher education programs at minority-serving institutions (MSIs). A few short years after the legislation was passed, President Obama, in 2011, proposed for the Center to be funded at $40 million, although it was not passed in his approved FY2012 budget. Since then, the Biden administration FY2022 budget has been approved to include $40 million for the program.

I was honored to participate in Washington Week and be amongst peers, scholars, and advocates who are fighting and making sacrifices every single day for children to have a better education and safe environment. It was also heartwarming to know our nation’s leaders are willing to stand up and fight for a policy that can open a lot of doors to good things and bring more positive than negative into the world. The discussions that took place during our breakout sessions will live on forever and are something we can carry on with us to inform others. Discussions over topics like “Why it is important to get involved in the educational issues” served to demonstrate why it is important to not give up and walk away from the educational field because you feel it is too tough, or no one is listening. Trust me, when you keep fighting for something, never backing down, you will be heard, and action will be taken.  

LaDerrington Baldwin is an undergraduate student at Sam Houston State University where he is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in education with a minor in special education EC- 6.

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