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Deborah Koolbeck

Senior Director of Government Relations, AACTE

AACTE Continues Advocacy on Capitol Hill

As the COVID-19 pandemic led the U.S. president to declare a national emergency, education stakeholders began immediate, direct advocacy with the Congress and the Administration, and will continue as federal and congressional actions to address the COVID pandemic unfold. AACTE continues to advocate for educator preparation on Fiscal Year 2021 funding, in particular, and emergency spending packages (often referred to as supplemental measures/bills) with both legislative branches. 

When AACTE staff and members talk about advocacy, we talk about the power in the combined voices of stakeholders and partners. To that end, AACTE has joined other education organizations in augmenting the voices on key issues as they emerge with the Administration and the Congress. You can access these letters via the AACTE COVID-19 Resource Hub located under AACTE Advocacy: Letters to Congress, the Administration, or other Leaders. Such letters include one that addresses the release of the Title IX regulations and rapid deployment of the funding from the third stimulus package, the CARES Act.

This section of the COVID-19 Resource Hub will be updated as AACTE signs on to letters for actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Third Federal Stimulus Package: Education Provisions

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

On March 25, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan third stimulus bill known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, aka the CARES Act. The U.S. House of Representatives will take up the measure on March 27, sending it to the president for his signature.  At this point in time, conversations are beginning on whether or not a fourth stimulus package is necessary.

Read the full CARES Act.

Read the Title-by Title Summary

The CARES Act includes the following  in regard to education:

Funding  

Education Stabilization Fund:  This includes flexible funding that will get out the door quickly and go directly to states, local school districts, and institutions of higher education to help schools, students, teachers, and families with immediate needs related to the coronavirus, including:

Updates: Department of Ed and Other Federal Agencies on COVID-19 Resources for Education

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

As the United States responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal agencies connected to the education and care of our nation’s higher education and PK-12 students are releasing information and guidance for taking action, as well as flexibilities and waivers offered.

The U.S. Department of Education offered a phone call to K-12 stakeholder on Friday March 20, 2020, with officials from the Department, the CDC, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Department has posted a readout of the call, with links to resources on servicing students with disabilities, student loan relief, student privacy, and more.

Main Links for COVID-19 Information

U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service

Centers for Disease Control

Department of Education Releases Guidance to IHEs on Interrupted Study Due to COVID-19

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) released guidance on March 5 and followed up with additional outreach on March 11, 2020 to ensure that institutions of higher education (IHE) are aware of options for various interrupted study due to COVID-19, including what the Department refers to as “student teaching.” This is particularly important for compliance with Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The guidance covers five scenarios including the following:

“A student was enrolled in a program and met the requirements for full-time enrollment; however, due to the COVID-19, one or more classes—such as an internship, a clinical rotation, student teaching or fieldwork—have been cancelled and now the student has fallen below the 12 credit hour minimum and is no longer considered to be a full-time student …”

Please review the guidance offered and work with your institution’s leadership, including the financial aid office moving forward. Specific situations leading to additional questions should be directed to COVID-19@ed.gov.

Other resources

U.S. Department of Education COVID-19 Resources

CDC Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Institutions of Higher Education

CDC Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Fact Sheet

President Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Request

USA flag and American dollars. American flag blowing in the  wind and 100 dollars banknotes in the backgroundOn Monday, February 10, 2020, the President kicked off the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget process by making his budget request to the Congress. Generally released on the first Monday in February, the delay reflects the delay in completing the FY20 appropriations process, which concluded on December 20, 2019. With a divided Congress, we should expect the Administration’s highest priorities to emerge as the heads of agencies and departments testify before the subcommittees of jurisdiction on the Appropriations committees later this spring. We will then learn the priorities of the Democratic Caucus leading the U.S. House of Representatives and those of the Republican Caucus leading the U.S. Senate, as subcommittee bills are released and marked up.

For the U.S Department of Education (Department), the President’s Budget Request cut the agency’s funding by $6.1 billion, or 8.4% from Fiscal Year 2020 levels. The key initiatives in the President’s Budget Request include the following:

Education Freedom Scholarships

This program establishes a federal tax credit program for voluntary donations to state-designed scholarships for elementary and secondary students offered by state-identified 501c3 non-profit entities. While these scholarships have been proposed before, this FY21 request includes and expansion of the opportunities for students and families.

January 2020 Federal Update Available

Did you miss the AACTE member exclusive January 2020 Federal Update Webinar? Not to worry. It is posted online on the AACTE Advocacy Center federal page, ready for you to watch from the comfort of your home or other convenient location. 

Please keep in mind that February’s update will be offered in person at the AACTE Annual Meeting in Atlanta (February 28-March 1). In fact, the update is offered twice to accommodate the busy schedules of attendees—Friday 10:30-11:30 a.m. and Saturday from 1:00-2:00 p.m.

Are you interested in augmenting your advocacy skills while at the Annual Meeting? Attend the AACTE Government Relations and Advocacy Committee’s Preconference: Your Levers of Civic Power: Moving the Gears of Democracy on Thursday, February 27 from 1:00 – 5:00 pm. Registration is required. Link to Preconfernces.  

I am looking forward to seeing you in Atlanta!

Stay Informed with January Federal Update Webinar

U.S. Capital and US flagA new year brings with it the start of the Second Session of the 116th Congress. The 2019 holiday season brought its own gift:  On December 20 of last year, the president signed into law the appropriations bills that funded programs important to the profession—and many programs saw increases.

What can we expect as the Fiscal Year 2021 process begins to unfold? Will the increases remain, are cuts possible? What impact(s) can we expect, if any, from the Impeachment Trial in the U.S. Senate? How will the election affect both appropriations and legislation? In addition, the Census is starting; are you ready to help with the count on campus?  This member exclusive webinar opportunity will cover these questions and also answer your questions in a Q & A session after the presentation.

Please note: there will be no webinars in February. Get your federal update live at the AACTE Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA. Hurry! Registration closes on January 24.

Plan to attend the January 2020 Update

Tuesday, January 28                        5:00 – 6:00 pm               Register

Wednesday, January 29                 12:30 – 1:30 pm               Register

Apply for a NSF Grant Opportunity to Improve STEM

National Science Foundation logoIn a Dear Colleague Letter, Karen Marrongelle of the National Science Foundation (NSF) invites proposals to the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources Program from institutions of higher education that are new to the program. The letter specifically includes the opportunity in the Engaged Student Learning track of “… improving K-12 STEM education through undergraduate preservice STEM teacher preparation …”

Marrongelle heads the NSF Directorate for Education and Human Resources , which supports “the development of a diverse and well-prepared workforce of scientists, technicians, engineers, mathematicians, and educators and a well-informed citizenry that have access to the ideas and tools of science and engineering.”

FY2020 Appropriations Bills Released

BipartisanshipAs the Congress rapidly approaches the December 20 deadline for the Continuing Resolution (maintaining federal spending at the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) levels while the next year’s levels are negotiated), agreement was reached, and the two bills were released on December 16, 2019.  

The Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2019 raised the non-defense and defense discretionary caps for FY20 and FY21, and was signed in early August as recess began. Given that the U.S. Senate had taken a stance not to move any bills without the aforementioned agreement in place, their work began in earnest in September. However, the bills were not completed by the end of the fiscal year (September 30), so Congress passed a  Continuing Resolution (CR) through November 21, 2019. With consternation around key issues, including funding for the border wall, another CR was put in place through December 20, 2019. It was unclear if the divisions between both parties and both bodies could be resolved by the new cutoff date, but it appears that the Congress is on target to meet its deadline.

ACSR Elections: Cast Your Vote by December 13

Vote Now

As the year comes to a close, it is time for AACTE State Chapter presidents and ACSR Liaisons to cast their ballots in the 2019 election for the ACSR Executive Committee.  As a reminder, the state chapters are divided into four regions: West, Midwest, South and Northeast. Annually, the ACSR voting members elect the ACSR Executive Committee Chair-Elect, and two regions elect their Region Representative to serve on the ACSR Executive Committee. This year the South and the Midwest regions are electing new Region Representatives.

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