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Department of Education Dissolves National Parent and Family Engagement Council

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.

The final countdown is on for Congress to pass a FY2023 spending bill with the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expiring next Friday. There is considerable speculation on whether or not a bill will pass before January, but many on the Hill remain hopeful that we will see an omnibus package before Christmas. Stay tuned as next week is sure to be a busy week in Washington.

Rep. Virginia Foxx Secures Waiver to Lead House Education Committee in 118th Congress

This week, Rep. Virginia Foxx, the current ranking member on the House Education and Labor Committee, was granted a waiver from the Republic Steering Committee to be considered for the top leadership position on the Committee in the next Congress. Rep. Foxx sought the waiver due to a GOP rule that prohibits Members from serving more than three consecutive terms as a ranking member or chair of a committee. Early reports on Wednesday suggested that Rep. Foxx would run unopposed; however, on Thursday reports began to surface that Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) will challenge Rep. Fox for the Committee gavel. A spokesperson for Rep. Walberg released a statement saying: “Having served on the Education and Workforce Committee for 14 years, Rep. Walberg has a proven track record of putting students’ future first and has the leadership experience to tackle the pressing issues facing America’s classrooms and workplaces.” Just last week, Rep. Walberg signed a letter in support of Rep. Foxx waiver. The Steering Committee is expected to make leadership decisions in the coming weeks.

National Parent and Family Engagement Council Dissolves

In June, the Department of Education established the National Parent and Family Engagement Council. The Council’s original intent was to help families engage with school districts at the local level. The Department quickly came under scrutiny with allegations of bias by several conservative lawmakers who suggested the group was created with liberal bias. These allegations would eventually lead to a lawsuit from conservative parent advocacy groups. This week the Administration announced that the Council has dissolved.

The Department of Education issued the following statement in response:

“Parental rights and voices matter. That’s a clear and consistent message we hear from education stakeholders throughout our nation, whether they’re parents themselves, students or educators, or partners in government or the private sector. We all share a vital concern for the future of our students, and our nation, regardless of our political, social, or cultural backgrounds. Parents and families have a critical role to play in building a brighter future for our kids and our communities — the Department has always tried to hear from as many parents as possible and to engage with them in the most meaningful and effective way. On June 14, the Department announced the creation of the National Parents and Families Engagement Council. Several organizations subsequently sued, alleging that the Department violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) when it established the Council. The Department disagrees but has decided to not move forward with the National Parents and Families Engagement Council. The Department will continue connecting with individual parents and families across the country, including through townhalls, and providing parents and families with a wide array of tools and resources to use to support our students.”

AACTE Releases Report on Alternative Preparation Programs Run by IHEs 

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education  released a new report on alternative preparation programs run by institutions of higher education (IHEs). The report notes that that IHE-based alternative teacher preparation programs are bringing more educators to the strained workforce than alternative programs run by organizations other than colleges and universities. Although enrollment in university-based alternative programs declined by 8% between 2011 and 2020, the number of teachers completing these programs grew by 10%; in contrast, enrollment in non-IHE alternative programs grew by more than 140% but the number of teachers produced by these programs declined by 12%.

New Resources for Educators

  • National Center for Education Statistics released their October data on staffing vacancies across US public schools. The report notes that More than half of public schools in high-poverty neighborhoods (57 percent) had at least one teaching vacancy. The vacancy numbers do not take into consideration whether or not the individual is qualified for the position.
  • NCLD is out with a new report examining youth with disabilities involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Until next time, see you on Twitter! Kait @brennan_kait

Do you have a question about Washington Update? Want more information? Have an interesting story about the educator shortage in your state? Email me, let’s have virtual coffee: kaitlynbrennan88@gmail.com.

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