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
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
Last May on Capitol Hill, a congressman sat in a corner of his office, while nine of my students, his congressional aide, and I sat in a circle around him. My students, all preservice teachers, shared story-after-story from their classrooms, trying to illustrate how tough it is to be a teacher. With grace and conviction, they explained how in the course of their student teaching, they realized there is still more they need to learn in order to be able to do their jobs well. They looked the Congressman in the eyes and told him that without funding for Title II and a federal commitment to developing them as professionals, they were not sure that they would be equipped to stay in the field, much less teach in the congressional representative’s state, since it’s a state that allocates almost nothing for teacher development.
Registration is now open for AACTE’s 2020 Washington Week. This annual event, with participation from AACTE and the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) state chapter leaders, Holmes Scholars, and AACTE members and non-members alike interested in advocating for the profession, will take place in the nation’s capital. This year’s Washington Week will be held May 31 – June 3 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, VA, and on Capitol Hill.
While many people are focused on the fact that 2020 is a presidential election year, it is important to note that much is happening at the state level. There are 11 gubernatorial races, all but 6 states have legislative elections, and there are many other measures that might require your vote. Where do you gather objective, non-partisan information about what will be on your ballot? Consider Ballotpedia, a digital encyclopedia of American politics. It is run by a nonprofit that is dedicated to compiling thorough, non-partisan information regarding state by state election/ballot activity in the United States.
Ballotpedia gathers information to support you in engaging in your democracy including:
- Databases of all upcoming elections, searchable by street address
- Dates for all elections and candidates, including off-year and special elections
- Times for Poll Openings and Closings organized by state
- Bios and contact information for all elected officials by district, down to the judicial and school board level, searchable by zip-code
- Databases of all upcoming state ballot measures, searchable by zip-code
- Fact-Checking of political reporting regarding issues under deep debate in your state
Advocating in education policy can seem a daunting endeavor. From federal engagement to statehouse meetings to local councils and school boards, the field can look overwhelming and individual impact feel scattered. At the heart, though, education and educator preparation are state issues. Engaging at the state and local level is the best way to have a direct impact on behalf of students and the profession.
The Committee on Government Relations and Advocacy, one of AACTE’s standing committees, is offering a preconference at the AACTE Annual Meeting focused directly on helping you develop your advocacy skills for state and local engagement. Your Levers of Civic Power: Moving the Gears of Democracy is half-day interactive session designed to provide information and practice in three important areas of state and local advocacy: participating in town halls, speaking before a committee or commission, and engaging candidates during a debate.
If you have been involved with AACTE for any length of time, you know how important it is to advocate on behalf of educator preparation. The Committee on Government Relations and Advocacy, one of AACTE’s standing committees, is offering a preconference at the AACTE 2020 Annual Meeting to help you improve your advocacy skills. Your Levers of Civic Power: Moving the Gears of Democracy is half-day interactive session designed to provide information and practice in three important areas of advocacy: participating in town halls, speaking before a committee or commission, and engaging candidates during a debate.
Town halls provide a forum to interact with your elected officials and candidates for office on a variety of topics that may or may not be announced in advance. Committees or commissions might also convene around your state or at the state capitol or legislative buildings. Debates, like town halls, can happen around the state, and give you an opportunity to engage with candidates on issues important to the profession.
As 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.
To show support and help advocate for public schools in the United States, AACTE is inviting members to add your voice to the thousands of others vowing to stand up for students and schools. The Learning First Alliance (LFA) has launched the Pledge for Public Schools in preparation for Public Schools Week 2020, a national celebration for educators and parents to spotlight the successes of their students and local schools in communities across the nation, and to bring attention to the critical issues facing schools, students, and educators.
LFA reports that U.S. public schools educate 50.8 million students (nine of 10), regardless of ability, race, wealth, language, religion or country of origin. During Public Schools Week 2020, to be held February 24-28, 2020, advocates will take the thousands of pledges to Capitol Hill and state capitals across the country to illustrate to lawmakers how many people are supporting America’s public schools.
Once you take the pledge, LFA asks that you share on social media using the hashtag #PublicSchoolProud. More updates and events leading up to Public Schools Week will be announced at learningfirst.org/publicschoolsweek.
To learn more about LFA, visit learningfirst.org.
Why are schools still segregated in 2019? The answer to this question is a complicated one. One with roots deep in the history of our educational system. The surface answer has to do with the fact that racist curricula and prejudice within our society still exist. Where you live determines where you go to school. Many times, the poorer, minority students live in lower income neighborhoods. And as children become racially isolated, it then trickles into our schools, resulting in segregation.
In fact, segregation is even evident in schools that are racially diverse. You’ll notice that most students in advanced placement classes are Caucasian or Asian. Who do we see in remedial classes? We see African American students, particularly African American males. Even with a diverse student population, the evidence of systemic segregation is scarily rampant. The deep vestiges of racism and segregation subtly permeate through our schools and it sets dangerous precedents.
Registration is open for the AACTE member exclusive October 2019 Federal Update webinars. AACTE offers these webinars to you on two different days of the week and at two different times to accommodate members’ teaching schedules and time zones.
Even though one might expect activities to slow down in Washington as the year begins to wind down, plenty is happening that impacts the profession. On October 15, Chairman Scott (D-VA) of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor revealed his proposal for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. What does it look like for educator preparation? Will Chairman Alexander (R-TN) move his bill through the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions? And not to be forgotten is the appropriations process—as the Congress heads toward a November 21 deadline for funding the federal government, what is the outlook? Will there be another short-term Continuing Resolution (CR), or could we see even a year-long CR? Could a government shutdown happen? This webinar will cover these topics, as well as the advocacy steps that you can take to engage in the process, and there will be a Q & A session for you to get your answers to your questions. Register today!
Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 5:00-6:00 p.m. EDT: Register now.
Wednesday, October 30, 2019 11:00 am-12:00 noon EDT: Register now