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Congress Introduces Legislation to Fully Fund IDEA

Urge Your Representative and Senators to Cosponsor the IDEA Full Funding Act Today

Portrait of disabled schoolboy using digital tablet in classroom at schoolSenator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) this week introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation to finally ensure Congress’ commitment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). AACTE is a strong supporter of this legislation and has called for Congress to fully fund IDEA to help support students with disabilities.

President Biden Releases Build Back Better Package

Build Back Better

AACTE expressed its strong support and appreciation for the historic funding for educator preparation programs included in President Joseph Biden’s Build Back Better framework, which was released today.  This funding will help ensure that our nation’s classrooms are led by profession-ready and diverse educators.  AACTE strongly urges Congress to pass this legislation as quickly as possible to help address the shortage of educators our nation has been experiencing and that has gotten worse in recent years.

Department of Education Overhauls Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Graduates at university graduation ceremony wearing mortarboard and gown

The Department of Education announced today changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) that will allow thousands of students to qualify for the program and see their debts forgiven. 

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was designed to allow student loan borrowers, who pay down their debts for 10 years while working at a public-sector or nonprofit job, to have any remaining debt forgiven at the end of that decade.  However, only a small number of borrowers benefited from the program because they had taken out the wrong type of federal loan or had been enrolled in an ineligible repayment plan. In come cases, the debt was not forgiven because of minor clerical errors.

Congress Passes Legislation to Improve TEACH Grants

An elementary art teacher instructs second-grade students attending in person and remotely at Wesley Elementary School.

Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages

This week, the House of Representatives passed the Consider Teachers Act, which would make certain improvements to the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants program.  The TEACH Grant program is intended to encourage individuals to enter the teaching profession by providing recipients with grants of up to $4,000 per year to pursue coursework that leads to a certification in teaching. AACTE has long supported this program to help address the nation’s shortage of educators.

AACTE Contributes to the Committee for Education Funding’s Budget Book

Council for Education Funding - Education MattersOne of the important coalitions AACTE is a member of is the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), which is the oldest and largest coalition of education associations and calls for an increase in federal funding for education. CEF’s current campaign is “5 Cents Makes Sense,” which calls for 5 cents of every federal dollar to be spent on education. The campaign’s official hashtag is #5Cents4EdFunding. 

Each year, CEF publishes a Budget Book, which analyzes the President’s budget proposal and its impact on federal education programs.  AACTE contributed two articles to the Book.  One is on TEACH Grants, the federal program that supports the recruitment of high-quality teacher candidates for hard-to-staff fields and schools. The other article is on the Teacher Quality Partnership program, which is the only federal initiative designed to strengthen and reform educator preparation at institutions of higher education.

House Committee Approves Significant Investments in Education Preparation Programs

High School Students With Teacher In Class Using LaptopsOn September 9, the House Education and Labor Committee began work on its part of the reconciliation package that would make historic investments in American families, students, and the workforce. The legislation passed on a party line vote (28-22) and will be considered by the full House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

Among the new policies, the House Education and Labor committee calls for investing an additional

New Tools to Support Your Advocacy

White House in the fall

As we enter September, we are just weeks away from AACTE’s Day on the Hill, the Association’s premiere advocacy event.  Participation in the event is critical to helping advance AACTE’s legislative priorities and highlighting the importance of teacher preparation programs.  If you have not participated in Day on the Hill, or if you need a refresher, you may be wondering what attendees will be advocating for during their meetings with Members of Congress and congressional staffers. The AACTE team has posted a variety of Washington Week resources on the to help guide participants. 

In many cases, you will be familiar with the issues: the importance of TEACH Grants, which are critical to helping students enter the teaching profession while helping to address shortages in hard-to-staff fields and schools; Teacher Quality Partnerships (TQP), which helps strengthen the teacher pipeline; and a variety of other bills that will help make sure our nation’s classrooms are staffed with profession-ready, diverse group of educators.

While it is helpful to review these materials ahead of Day on the Hill sessions, please know that we will discuss the political landscape and AACTE’s legislative priorities before meeting with members of congress to help you become more comfortable with advocacy. And there will be several other panels to help you understand why advocacy is important and how you can have successful meetings.

If you haven’t already, I hope you will plan to join us for our Day on the Hill. To register, please visit AACTE’s website

 

 

Why Participate in AACTE’s Day on the Hill?

AACTE’s annual Day on the Hill, the association’s premiere advocacy event, is scheduled for September 21-23. It is a unique opportunity to engage with your Members of Congress about the critical work you do. But some may wonder, “What do I get out of participating?”

First and foremost, you can explain to policymakers the importance of the teaching profession and why it is important to invest in teacher preparation programs to help address the teacher shortage and diversify the profession. Even before the pandemic, the teacher shortage was a critical issue for our nation.  Studies and news reports indicate that COVID will make the problem more acute. Fortunately, President Biden has proposed historic funding increases for programs AACTE has long supported, like the Teacher Quality Partnerships, and doubling of the TEACH Grants, which are critical to training student to teach in high needs schools or fields. Your voice is critical to helping this legislation pass.

Adding your Voice to the Conversation

2021 Washington Week - Day on the Hill

The nation’s newspapers, websites, and blogs are filled with discussions about what policies Congress should address next. Currently, it seems like all eyes are on Afghanistan; yesterday was all about investing in the nation’s infrastructure; tomorrow the discussion may be on President Biden’s American Families Plan. The president’s proposal calls for historic investments in our nation’s youth, families, and economic future, including a call to invest $9 billion in teacher preparation programs. But it is unclear whether Congress will support the proposal, let alone the $9 billion in long-overdue investments in teacher preparation.

Bring Your Passion to AACTE’s Day on the Hill

Day on the Hill grqaphic

AACTE’s virtual Day on the Hill is scheduled for September 21-23. As we prepare for AACTE’s premiere advocacy event, some may wonder, “What legislation should we prioritize?” The simplest answer is whatever you are most passionate about.

The nation is facing a teacher shortage. We are all familiar with the statistics: there were an estimated 100,000 classrooms in 2018 staffed by instructors who did not complete some type of educator preparation program; despite increased need for PK-12 teachers—and growing enrollment in higher education—the number of students completing bachelor’s degrees in education has been declining over the last two decades; in a recent survey, 27% of teachers said they were considering leaving their jobs, retiring early, or taking a leave of absence due to COVID-19.

However, there are legislative proposals that seek to address these issues and more.

AACTE’s Day on the Hill: An Opportunity to Advocate for Ed Prep Programs

The past year and a half have been a challenge. Everyone’s lives have been disrupted and we have had to adapt, adjust, and endure like never before, especially within the educator preparation community. However, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

There is good news. For example, President Biden proposed the biggest increase in funding for the Department of Education and teacher preparation programs in history. Specifically, he called for increasing the Department’s budget by more than $29 billion, or 41%, including an increase of $9 billion for teacher preparation programs.

House of Representatives Passes Department of Education Spending Bill

Apple, ruler and pencil on a desk with a backdrop of moneyThis week, the House of Representatives passed an omnibus appropriations bill, which included the funding for the Department of Education. The omnibus bill included seven spending bills; generally, the House and Senate prefer to pass the 12 appropriations bills, which largely fund the federal government, individually. However, a congested legislative calendar caused this course of action.

The omnibus bill proposes a 41% increase for the Department of Education, an unprecedented boast in spending. It also recommends significantly increasing the funding for many of the programs AACTE supports.

The Senate has not started its work on its appropriations bills and it is unclear if senators will support the funding increases provided for by the House. The annual spending bills must be signed into law by September 30, the end of the fiscal year. However, because the process is far behind schedule, Congress will likely pass a continuing resolution before then, which will fund the government at current levels (another option is to pass neither the appropriations bill nor a continuing resolution and allow the government to shut down, but that is unappealing to most members of congress).

Registration for AACTE’s Day on the Hill Now Open

2021 Washington Week

Registration for AACTE’s second virtual Day on the Hill is now open.  Day on the Hill is the Association’s premiere advocacy event and provides AACTE members with the opportunity to engage directly with their Members of Congress about the importance of teacher preparation and related legislation.  Advocacy training sessions will take place September 21-22, and virtual congressional visits will be held September 23.

AACTE Leads Task Force on Teacher Preparation in Higher Ed

Earlier this year, AACTE reconstituted the Higher Education Task Force.  The task force, which was previously led by AACTE, will share information about the policy work underway in the teacher preparation world with our higher education colleagues and inform Congress and other key officials about important developments related to the field.  Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the change of administrations and other factors, the task force was dormant for a short time. But AACTE’s colleagues eagerly accepted our invitation to rejoin.

Task force participants are from the major associations of higher education, whose members are presidents of institutions of higher education. Members include the American Council on Education (ACE), American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and UNCF. 

AACTE Celebrates Juneteenth

JuneteenthAACTE will close its offices tomorrow in recognition of Juneteenth, which honors the day when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to enforce the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Until that day, June 19, 1865, Black men, women, and children in Texas remained enslaved, despite the provisions of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth, as named by the newly freed citizens, is celebrated annually on June 19. Congress voted this week to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

AACTE staff pauses its work to reflect on the violence, including murder, that our Black, Latinx, Native American, Asian-American Pacific-Islander, and Transgendered populations are particularly experiencing, in addition to the long history of violence against these groups of people. AACTE condemns, in the strongest terms, this violence and invites all its colleagues to work together to create a society in which no one should fear for their lives based on the color of their skin or gender identity. 

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