Important Work Continues While Congress on Recess
This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
We have finally made it to mid-term election week. Congress remains on recess until after the elections, but important work continues. It is my hope that by the end of the week we will have the complete results of the mid-term elections and I will provide an analysis on the makeup of the 118th Congress in our next Washington Update.
Administrators’ Union Calls for New Vision for American Education System
Last week, the American Federation of School Administrators sent a letter to President Biden requesting a new vision for education. In the letter, the administrators’ union president, Leonard Pugliese wrote: “It’s time to move the nation’s public education system forward and serve the children of the United States in a modern and individualized way…” To meet this objective, the group urged President Biden to convene a group of assemble educators, parents, academics, and students who would establish initial recommendations for the future path of American education.
“Our students’ historically poor showing on the 2022 Nation’s Report Card was no surprise to school leaders … Now, we must use this crisis to reexamine longstanding educational structural and enthusiasm gaps and find the best solutions …The nation’s focus over the past decades on the basics and testing to ensure competence negatively impacted innovative and creative teaching, constrained course selection and undermined meaningful learning for our students … It’s time to write a new vision for education — one that is better informed by educators, parents and students, and that contains recommendations that allow compelling teaching and the joy of learning to flourish … Convening stakeholders to make strong recommendations on realizing this vision is an important first step in this process. We urge you to take that step.”
The group urged a nonpartisan response, underscoring the difficulty of finding common ground, especially as midterm election campaigns have exploited divides over education to rally voters.
Supreme Court Hears Arguments Focused on Race-Inclusive College Admission Practices
Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases focused on race-inclusive college admission practices at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)- marking what appears to be the beginning of a new chapter in higher education. The plaintiffs in both cases, Students for Fair Admissions, allege that UNC and Harvard discriminate against Asian American and white applicants because the institutions give racial preferences to Black and Latino applicants. Some data has suggested admitted students of Asian descent have higher test scores and lower acceptance rates. Supporters, however, say affirmative action benefits many Asian Americans, particularly those who belong to underrepresented ethnic groups or those who’ve experienced hardship as people of color.
After the arguments, analysts believe the Conservative learning court appears to be slated to overturn its ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 landmark decision that held colleges can consider race and use holistic reviews as long as their affirmative action programs are narrowly tailored.
Justice Bret Kavanaugh brought up the need for a “logical end point” for Grutter. “The opinion didn’t say until you reach a point where you’re satisfied that diversity has been achieved or something vague like that, it said 25 years in there.” he said. “And so I want to hear how you address that part of the Grutter precedent because, as I understand your answer, you would extend it far beyond 25 years — indefinitely.”
Several education and civil rights advocacy groups fear ending the use of race in admissions will exacerbate inequality for years to come. “Nearly 70 years later, the promise of Brown v. Board of Education remains unfulfilled… Without the fair shot that holistic, race-conscious admissions enables, an entire generation or more of promising, hardworking and highly qualified Black, Latino, Native American and AAPI students will be shut out of selective colleges and universities through no fault of their own,” said Janai Nelson, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
It will take several months for a decision to come from the Court.
Arizona Congresswoman introduces a Constitutional Amendment to Guarantee Parents’ Rights to be Involved in their Children’s’ Education
Last month, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) introduced a Constitutional Amendment to guarantee parents’ rights to be involved in their children’s education. In a statement, Rep. Lesko said the goal of the amendment is to, “protect parents from far-left school board officials and government bureaucrats in the Biden Administration who have actively worked to undermine parental rights and eliminate educational choices for their families.” The proposal is supported by the Alliance defending Freedom and ParentalRights.org- both organizations which support codifying parental rights to school choice and look to ensure parents have the ability to “direct the upbringing, education and care of their children is a fundamental right.” While the bill is unlikely to move, it does offer insight into Republican priorities for the 118th Congress.
GAO Releases New Report on Critical Shortage of Teachers and the Department of Education’s Response to the Crisis
Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report examining the critical shortage of educators across the nation and identifies gaps in the Department of Education’s response to this crisis. The report entitled K-12 Education: Education Should Assess Its Efforts to Address Teacher Shortages suggests that while overall teacher shortages are primarily confined to geographic areas such as the western states, rural, urban, and high poverty communities; special education teacher shortages extend throughout the United States. The GAO suggested two general recommendations to the Department of Education to support improving the Department’s strategic plan to increase teacher recruitment and retention. The recommendations include that the Department develop a more comprehensive strategy to execute its vision. “Absent easily accessible resources that address the full range of major challenges contributing to shortages, Education’s efforts to assist states and school districts address their recruiting and retention issues will contain gaps,” the accountability office report said. Secretary Cardona should build on the department’s efforts to raise public awareness about the value of teachers by developing time frames, milestones and performance for its strategies, the GAO said. In the report the GAO notes that the Department has neither agreed or disagreed with its recommendations.
TED/HECSE Annual Meeting to be held this week at TED Conference in Richmond
If you will be in Richmond, please join us at the Annual TED Conference on Wednesday, November 9 from 2:00-3:30 pm in the James River Salon CD for the TED/HECSE Annual meeting. This year’s meeting will include its infamous round robin introductions as an opportunity for faculty to share current and upcoming job openings as well as for doctoral students to introduce themselves as potential job candidates. Faculty are welcome to bring flyers with job opening details for circulation. Additionally, we have a great panel moderated by Kait Brennan, HECSE/TED’s Senior Policy Advisor, focused on Upholding Standards for Comprehensive Educator Preparation in an Era of Increasingly Relaxed State Certification Requirements. Panelists will include Drs. Frank Dykes (TED President), Corey Pierce (HECSE Vice President), Kyena Cornelius (TED Executive Board Member), Lucky Mason-Williams (TED Executive Board Member), and Sarah Nagro (HECSE Executive Board Member and TED Executive Board Member).
New Resources for Educators
- The National Education Policy Center released a critical policy analysis tabulating racial disparities in early childhood education quality and funding, tracing them back to historical inequities.
- The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report examining equity and safety in school dress codes. The report notes that schools that enforce strict dress codes enroll more Black or Hispanic students and are more likely to remove students from class—which can be detrimental to their development and learning.
Until next time, see you on Twitter, Kait @brennan_kait.
Tags: equity, federal issues, shortages, special education, student achievement, teacher achievement