Beth Kubitskey, ACSR Midwest Region representative and president of the Michigan Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, recently shared her experience as a State Leaders Institute attendee and what she’s looking forward to at this year’s virtual event during Washington Week.
Why do you believe it is important for AACTE members to actively advocate for education?
One of the reasons I think it is vital for AACTE members to advocate for education is because we are the experts. Still, often we are so busy doing the work that we do, we have to remind ourselves that we need to be proactive, not reactive. Often by the time we finally receive word on a bill, law, or state policy, it has already moved through many processes.
And so, we are not aware of those kinds of things before they get to far down the road, and we lose our opportunity to have an impact. There are multiple examples of where we are more likely to succeed if we can get that information early and be proactive.
One value of being a member of AACTE is the national advocacy for the profession and information about federal regulations influencing the field. What does not go unnoticed is the need and priority of work at the state level. The state level ACTEs provide a space for influencing state policies that ultimately guide the profession. AACTE values these essential contributions, and recognizes the value of this work as also informing advocacy going forward. A third, and critical, addition to this professional triumvirate is AACTE’s Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR) community, which serves as a collaborative network of State chapters. ACSR provides a place to share common issues, goals, events, white papers, advocacy tips, etc. at the regional level during monthly meetings. This serves each state well as our shared goal is to serve our students, pre- and in-service teachers and leaders, which is tertiary to our desire to prepare quality teachers and leaders for today’s and tomorrow’s P-12 children. Here we share a brief snippet of some of the contributions of ACSR.
As first and third time AACTE Day on the Hill participants, we eagerly participated in this inaugural virtual event to prepare for congressional visits. Although we were not physically together, Lynn M. Gangone, president and CEO, made us feel welcomed and valued members of AACTE during her opening greeting to attendees.
Why Day on the Hill?
Beth: As a newbie, I wondered about the lay of the land. Then Jane West, AACTE government relations consultant, shared, “The Big Picture: Current Policy & Political Landscape,” providing a framework for what we need to do and why.
Anne: After three years of attending the event, I was inspired by Jane West’s quote: “If your voice isn’t heard, someone else’s is,” which provided us meaning.
What and how?
AACTE’s legislative priorities provided the framework. Having the specific agenda items gave us the focus we needed.
Jacqueline Rodriguez, AACTE vice president of research, policy and advocacy, joined West in stressing the importance of building a rapport. Rodriguez supported planning with spreadsheets and materials. AACTE gave the legislative framework and a foundation. We’re ready to work!
State and regional colleagues collaborated to plan for advocacy. Presenters joined the meetings, to support the planning process. The virtual format allowed people to “travel” amongst groups. We’re ready to plan!
Organized collective voices can make a difference. Over the past four years, the Michigan Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE) and other stakeholders have worked closely with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) in the development and implementation of dramatic changes to the licensure guidelines and standards for PK-12 teachers. The Michigan Department of Education has moved to narrow certification bands to a model more inclusive of students’ needs. This “students first” teacher certification system focuses on the whole child and moving our state forward to becoming a top 10 education state in the next 10 years. It was created with input from educators, schools, educator preparation programs, and parents.
The EPP applications for the new elementary programs were to be submitted in November 2020 or April 2021. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions were finding it hard to meet these deadlines with the limited resources and reached out to MACTE for help. Through the process of leading collaboration with other organizations, dialog with state partners, and creating cohesive arguments with a specific request, MACTE was able to not only advocate for its EPP members, but for the candidates completing their programs.
MACTE responded by composing a letter to the director of the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Educator Excellenc, requesting an extension of the application deadline to the next academic year as well as an extension of the sunset deadline for the elementary tests of the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification for the program that is being replaced. The Michigan Independent Educator Preparation Institution (MEIPI) and Michigan Public Education Deans (MPED) groups were also concerned with the impending timeline. MEIPI and MPED supported the MACTE’s proposal and joined us in signing this letter in support of this effort. As a collective we made the request to the Michigan Department of Education. The letter stressed the following.
The Women in Leadership Topical Action Group seeks to strengthen colleges of education through leadership development; advance a professional network among members interested in leadership; encourage diverse members to pursue leadership positions; support women considering career or advancement opportunities in leadership; initiate, encourage, and disseminate studies of women in leadership; and provide professional development and mentoring to members interested in enhancing professional and personal success in concert with their positions.
History: The Women in the Deanship began as a Special Study Group. In 2007, the group researched and published a collection of case studies in It’s All About People: Case Studies in Higher Education Leadership (Lovell, S., Damico, S. and Hopkins, D. (editors), 2007). In 2013, AACTE created The Women in the Deanship TAG was created. The group has a long history of supporting women leaders.