AACTE’s 2022 Washington Week was by far the most productive, inspirational, and collaborative Washington Week than those I previously attended. The culmination of Holmes Scholars, State Leaders Institute (SLI), and Day on the Hill allowed scholars, deans, faculty, and state affiliate leaders to discuss and gather new perspectives on the three strands:
- Educator shortage
- Educator diversity
A sense of unity and gaiety could be felt as state teams worked together to plan their discussion about legislation priorities and strand topics during congressional visits with senators and congressmen/women.
Advocacy for teacher preparation programs and the fundamental need to place highly diverse qualified teachers in the classroom across the nation is more dire than ever before. AACTE’s Washington Week is the precise opportunity to perfect one’s craft of advocacy through training, workshops, and immersive experiences by conducting congressional visits with Senators and Congressmen or Congresswomen on Capitol Hill.
Legislators may not be aware of the obstacles our teacher preparation programs are confronted with on a daily basis nor the negative impact it is having on school districts in surrounding communities, and someone else might be telling your story incorrectly. This is one of the times when universities aren’t competing against one another and can come together to advocate the need for teacher preparation to be an equitable education for all children. Institutions of higher education are able to cohesively express the barriers encountered by teacher preparation programs and share their stories as one collective unit to their designated state legislators. You are able to learn how to advocate for the importance of the Higher Education Act, Teacher Quality Grants, and other fiscal appropriations that pertain to teacher preparation in the hopes that legislators will move it to the forefront of their agenda. More significantly, Washington Week has returned in person this year allowing you to better collaborate with colleagues in your field and even within your state.
In a recent Q&A with AACTE, Lisa Bisogno, associate dean, College of Education, Associate professor of special education Northeastern State University, shares her viewpoint as a 2020 AACTE Washington Week Day on the Hill participant.
Why do you believe it is important for AACTE members to actively advocate for education?
It is greatly beneficial for higher education institutions from their designated states to express the barriers encountered by teacher preparation programs as one collective unit to their elected officials. More often than not, legislators may not be aware of the obstacles our teacher preparation programs are confronting and their impact on school districts in surrounding communities. You can learn how to advocate for the importance of the Higher Education Act, Teacher Quality Grants, and other fiscal appropriations that pertain to teacher preparation in the hopes that legislators will move it to the forefront of their agenda. This is a time when universities can come together to advocate the need for teacher preparation to be an equitable education for all children.
Does the virtual session have the same value as the in-person meetings with representatives/senators?
Considering this was my first Day on the Hill, I do not have the comparison to in-person meetings other than legislation visits within my state. However, I would emphasize that the virtual sessions aided in easing my nerves during our virtual congressional visit and provided adequate practice for when the opportunity presents itself for in-person congressional visits. Another wonderful aspect of the virtual annual meeting is the cost efficiency by saving on travel and the ability to access the sessions following the conference.