Greetings from your National Office team. Thanks to all of our members who stay in touch with us. Hearing how you navigate the complex issues fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, within your local communities, allows all members to benefit from your hard-earned lessons. Additionally, our collective work in educator preparation advocacy ensures that there are federal and state funds to support ALL students. AACTE maintains its strong commitment to advocacy, particularly at this time; know that we are taking a stand and advocating for legislation and initiatives that promote the safe reopening of our member institutions this fall. Please take a few minutes to watch the video above and learn more.
You can support AACTE’s advocacy work by joining our virtual 2020 Washington Week this September. Your voice matters regarding the current federal and state policies impacting colleges of education and their recovery from COVID-19. You can learn more about AACTE’s inaugural virtual conference at aacte.org.
In Part 1 of this Q&A feature, AACTE consultant Jane West, a former teacher with a doctorate in special education and 30 years of policy experience in the nation’s capital, and Holmes Program Alumna Ashley L. White, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin and 2019-20 Joseph P. Kennedy Fellow, share their mentoring/mentee relationship and how it has evolved over time to address race.
Q: What is the nature of your mentoring relationship?
White: Through my doctoral work, I became very interested in disability policy. It was through this interest that I met Jane. Anyone who knows about SPED/disability policy knows Dr. Jane West. What I didn’t know before interacting with Jane is that, while she was an advocate for the interests of special education and students with disabilities, she was aware of the structural and ideological inconsistencies that float right beneath the surface of the equity rhetoric that dominates disability advocacy.
West: I had the good fortune to meet Ashley as a doctoral student through her work with The Higher Education Consortium for Special Education—an organization with which I consult. Ashley was keenly interested in advocacy and policy—my areas of focus—so we formed a natural alliance. I was, and am, pleased to mentor her in those areas as she navigated her doctoral work and her career.
This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Action Expected in July on Next COVID Relief Bill: Education in the Crosshairs
Beginning next week, we expect to see the Senate take up the next COVID relief bill. The House has passed their version of the bill and Senate Democrats have introduced their version of the bill, so the next move is up Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). His bill may be unveiled next week.
Education has become a high profile and contentious matter for this bill, as the president has determined that the economy cannot move forward unless schools are fully open in person so that parents and college employees (and workers in related businesses) can return to work in person. Multiple agendas are woven through this debate, which will become even more prominent as decisions are made about whether to apply conditions to any further COVID relief funding for education.
Since AACTE and Mursion launched the Education Roundtable series, we have had the pleasure of showcasing the work of educators, who have integrated teacher training via virtual reality (VR) simulation into their respective programs or are studying the various aspects of this modality.
In an upcoming three-part mini-series, Carrie Straub, executive director of education programs and research at Mursion, will host a team from Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) who have generously offered to share the magic behind their work. They will upack and discuss the following:
- Recruiting and training simulation specialists
- The development of simulations including how participants are oriented into Mursion experiences, models for simulation designs, and post simulation activities aimed at transferring skills
- The development of four simulations developed through the Reach Every Reader grant which HGSE designed to develop teachers as critical thinkers and learners in the classroom alongside their students
The following article is Part 1 of an article by AACTE member Alexander Cuenca in which he highlights the tensions involved in continuing student teaching in the fall and shares a guidepost for educator preparation programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this post, I explore how the unexamined inertia of “experience” in teacher education contributes to the hesitation of teacher education decision-makers to cancel field experiences and student teaching in the fall. Canceling field experiences and student teaching in the fall is the most responsible decision. Primarily, because even a basic understanding of the germ theory of disease during a pandemic should be enough of a rationale. However, because higher education is ensconced in the same neoliberal rationales that led to the premature opening of private and public enterprise over the last few months, teacher education programs must navigate public policy on their own. Of course, with all of the uncertainty that has been created by the response in the United States to COVID-19, I don’t pretend to know what is best for every single teacher education program. Field experiences are entangled in state licensure and certification regulations, institutional scheduling issues, and school and university partnership agreements. However, operating from the position that COVID-19 continues to pose a substantial risk to the health and well-being of students, teachers, school staff, and student teachers, I hope to provide pause for those who believe that field experiences and the student teaching experience must go on.
In March, when news of the coronavirus began to spread, one of our first tasks was to decide what to do with the hundreds of candidates who were in schools completing clinical experiences. This was new territory for everyone and no procedures for this type of situation had ever been developed. The decision was made to continue full-time internships, but all other field-based work was halted to allow P-12 teachers to focus on their own instruction and students. Through the strong partnerships we have with our school districts, we were able to navigate the situation and successfully graduate over 400 interns Spring 2020.
As we plan for the fall semester, while we now have some experience and advanced knowledge of the situation, the P-12 landscape will be even more varied—both within and across school districts. It has quickly become apparent that we will need to supplement our field-based work in other ways. We are assembling a range of options, including organizing a video repository, creating data-rich case studies from previous assignments, and building a tutoring network to offer virtual tutoring services to children in our local communities while simultaneously allowing candidates the opportunity to plan, implement, and evaluate their instruction. Another important option we will be utilizing to provide practice opportunities to candidates is SIMTeach@TU, our Mursion simulation system.
AACTE is excited to offer its virtual 2020 Washington Week experience this September. The event dates have changed to offer you more opportunities to participate. Here’s the lineup:
Holmes Advanced Policy Course: September 2-3
On September 2, attendees will learn what to expect during the event and hear from a keynote speaker. The September 3 activities will include interactive breakout sessions and a congressional panel.
Holmes Policy Institute: September 8-10
On September 8, attendees will participate in a welcome session and engaging breakouts. Keynote speakers and panelists will show participants how to advocate for educator preparation through lively discussions and group activities. On September 10, participants will enjoy a virtual reception, including interactive games, to conclude the event.
Day on the Hill: September 9-10 and September 15-16
To support school leaders, teachers, students, and their families in coping with the changes brought by COVID-19, the Educating All Learners Alliance have worked with national experts and their 50-plus alliance partners, including AACTE, to develop a design process around nine critical questions to consider in reopening and recovery planning for fall 2020.
The equityatthecore.org microsite shares resources from partner organizations, hosts a discussion forum and outlines a design process to ensure that students with disabilities are not only a paragraph in the planning process but are at the center of the discussion about educating all learners to prioritize equity and inclusion.
AACTE members are encouraged to visit the site and explore this resource for administrators, teachers, and school communities. AACTE is proud to be a part of this uncommon alliance of organizations working with each other to support the recovery and reopening process.
The undersigned members of the COVID-19 Education Coalition offer the following statement on the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA) and FY21 federal education appropriations:
As states and districts continue preparing for the upcoming school year, national data reveal the critical need to support educators’ capacity to deliver effective and equitable online learning experiences. For example, a recent survey revealed discrepancies in the quality of instruction available to students from higher-income versus low-income families. Although the CARES Act provided some federal dollars to support educator professional development, experts agree that the current education stabilization funds are inadequate to fully support schools, students, educators, and families through the COVID-19 global pandemic.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement today regarding the Trump administration’s intent to withhold federal funds to force schools and universities to reopen with in-person education this fall:
“AACTE strongly opposes President Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s efforts to force schools and universities to reopen prematurely. Preserving the health and safety of students and educators during COVID-19 is essential to effective teaching and learning. The Trump administration has directed state and local governments to bear the responsibility for developing and implementing policies and practices to protect their citizens during the pandemic. As such, institutions must be allowed to implement feasible and practical measures for reopening tailored to the needs of their local communities.
Federal funds should not be used as leverage to force schools and universities to provide in-person classes amidst the current surge of the coronavirus. Instead, federal funds must be allocated to aid colleges and universities in their recovery from the significant, financial challenges caused by the pandemic, to equip institutions with the proper tools to reduce the spread of coronavirus on their campuses, and to provide liability protection.
AACTE calls upon our nation to protect the health and well-being of those most vulnerable in our education communities and to implement bipartisan efforts that will strengthen school safety plans.”