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Day on the Hill: Making a Difference in Early Childhood and Rural Education

As a former early childhood public school prekindergarten teacher in rural South Carolina, I have always engaged in advocacy for better educational policies. I have been engrossed in issues such as reduced recess, teacher professional development policies, parent access, and teacher training since I was in the classroom. I continue to serve as a point of inspiration as a 13-year veteran teacher educator at a historically black college and university (HBCU). Such personal connections and identified issues led me not only to serve on the AACTE Committee on Government Relations and Advocacy but also to engage in AACTE’s “Day on the Hill.”

AACTE’s Government Relations and Advocacy Committee is as way for me to provide support, experience, and advice in an area that I feel honored to have some expertise in—early childhood teacher education—to affect change at the highest level of the United States Government through the AACTE community. I have always said, “I trust my leaders, but they always need to have access to all of the information and the right information to make a comprehensively informed decision.” I lay that same claim to politicians and other policy makers and enforcers. This committee has given me much additional excitement because I not only see changes happening, but also, I believe that my small, humble contributions help make a difference.

Biden Budget Proposal is Historic High-Water Mark for Education Funding

Medal for achievement in education with diploma, hat and books standing on stack of coins on gray backgroundThis 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. 

Biden- Harris Administration Unveils Massive Budget with Historic Investments in Education

On the Friday before the long-awaited Memorial Day holiday, just as Members of Congress were headed home and the rest of us were finalizing our plans for the long weekend, the White House unveiled the complete version of the Biden-Harris Administration’s full budget proposal for FY 2022.

The budget proposal calls for $102.8 billion for the Department of Education—a $29.8 billion or 41% increase to the Department’s current spending levels. This increase in funding would be the largest increase the Department has seen since its inception in 1979.

AACTE Releases Toolkit to Help the Nation’s Schools Reopen

Educating the Future TodayPresident Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) in March, which includes $122 billion for the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund. The ARP ESSER funds are intended to help state educational agencies and school districts safely reopen and address the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s students. AACTE has developed the Educating the Future, Today toolkit to help members navigate conversations with state or local education leaders, encouraging them to use ESSER funds to staff classrooms with teacher candidates. 

These funds provide a unique opportunity for school districts and educator preparation programs to address the teacher pipeline.  As the U.S. Department of Education’s noted in its COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs, ARP ESSER funds can be used to staff classrooms with teacher candidates, thereby providing them with practical experience while helping alleviate the challenges teachers are encountering with the transition back to in person teaching.

Nevada Special Education Teacher Named 2021 National Teacher of the Year

AACTE congratulates 2021 National Teacher of the Year Juliana Urtubey and AACTE member Institution The University of Arizona (UArizona) for preparing her for a distinguished teaching career. Urtubey holds a bachelor of arts in bilingual elementary education and a master’s degree in special bilingual education from UArizona.

Juliana UrtubeyThe Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today announced that Juliana Urtubey, an elementary school special education teacher, is the 2021 National Teacher of the Year.

Urtubey, an educator for 11 years, teaches at Kermit R. Booker, Sr. Innovative Elementary School in Las Vegas, where she serves as a co-teacher in pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade special education settings and as an instructional strategist developing supports to meet students’ differing academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs.

Known as “Ms. Earth” for her efforts to beautify schools and unify the community through murals and gardens, Urtubey has helped raise funds for garden programs at two Las Vegas schools. In one program, the garden was tended to by the student “Garden Gnomies” club and offered opportunities for innovative student learning and intergenerational learning and connections to the wider community.

Teacher Prep Programs Showing Promise

This article originally appeared in Odessa American and is reprinted with permission.

University of Texas Permian Basin’s new certification program in early childhood prekindergarten through third grade education has one semester in the books.

Dean of the College of Education Larry Daniel said they have 11 to 12 students in that major.

“It’s our first semester this fall, so we’re expecting that program to continue to grow. I know we’ve had a lot of inquiries but I don’t have a precise figure. … We are expecting that program to continue to grow and having teachers certified, particularly with the early childhood area,” Daniel said during a Zoom Early Childhood Action Network meeting this week.

ECAN is a committee of the Education Partnership of the Permian Basin. The Education Partnership of the Permian Basin is a nonprofit organization focused on supporting and improving the quality of education throughout the Permian Basin from cradle to career, its website said.

Leveraging Teacher Candidates as Assets During the Pandemic: A Win-Win for All

Supporting Inclusive SchoolsLast month, AACTE partnered with CCSSO, the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at the American Institutes for Research, and the CEEDAR Center to discuss how teacher candidates can be leveraged as assets for PK-12 districts navigating online learning and uncertainty during the pandemic. During the webisode hosted by CCSSO, Loretta Mason-Williams from Binghamton University, Jacqueline Rodriguez from AACTE, and Christian Rodgers from AASA set the stage for how the needs of teacher candidates, schools, and families are changing in 2020. With this shift in needs comes opportunities for both schools and teacher candidates.

This webisode also featured faculty and staff from AACTE member institution, Boston University, and Boston public schools, along with Lindsey Decker, a current teacher candidate. Decker shared her experiences supporting her mentor teacher in an online environment and noted “teachers are looking for additional adults to be in the classrooms.” In the virtual environment, Decker said she works with learners in small breakout groups and “one-on-one to lessen the gap that we’re seeing from the pandemic.”

What Can We Expect for Education with a Biden-Harris Administration?

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.

Welcome to the world of President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris.

What Might a Biden Presidency Mean for Education?

When President-elect Joe Biden told the nation that educators will have “one of their own” in the White House, a sigh of relief and a whiff of optimism were palpable among the education community. Referring to his wife, Jill Biden—a long time community college professor—he also said that “teaching isn’t just what she does, it’s who she is.”  Thus, the president-elect sets the tone for the next four years of one of the most pro-education administrations in our lifetimes.

Biden named his transition teams this week, including the one for education. Led by Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the Learning Policy Institute and former head of the Obama Administration education transition team, the group is comprised of a number of former Obama appointees as well as union leaders. The team is working on compiling both potential nominees for political positions in the Department of Education as well as fleshing out policy priorities and a timeline. 

Clinically Rich Programs in New York: Early Childhood Urban Education Initiative at the Bank Street Graduate School of Education

This article is part of a series on clinically rich teacher preparation in New York State, coordinated by Prepared To Teach at Bank Street College. The text is adapted from their latest report, Making Teacher Preparation Policy Work: Lessons From and For New York, and shared by the featured institution.

Teacher working with young childrenBank Street Graduate School of Education is a small, progressive institution in New York City, founded in 1916. Bank Street has a long history of pioneering innovative, inclusive education programs, dating back to the founding of Head Start.

One of Bank Street’s newest programs—the Early Childhood Urban Education Initiative—helps uncredentialed early childhood educators in under-resourced New York City neighborhoods complete their certification and earn master’s degrees while remaining employed in their existing early childhood classrooms.

The educators who enroll in the program often come from the communities in which they teach and, as they progress through the rigorous program, they are able to bring their knowledge and skills to bear on the students in their classrooms, the organizations in which they are housed, and the community overall.  By completing a master’s degree and obtaining their certification, participants in this initiative gain access to a wider set of professional opportunities.

Local ABC News Features Reyes Quezada on Ask the Expert

As many parents have questions about how to navigate the current school year with their children at home, ABC 10News anchor Lindsey Peña offered them an opportunity to talk with Reyes Quezada, chair of the Department of Learning and Teaching from University of San Diego USD, about their concerns. Reyes fields questions about distance learning, early childhood education, and bilingual education during the segment.

His advice includes tips that families can use to replicate what’s happening in schools to support their students at home. During the interactive session, Reyes also emphasizes the different ways teachers can communicate to meet the needs of the students during remote learning, including socio-emotional learning.

Watch the full interview on ABC10News Facebook page.

OSPI and University of Washington’s Haring Center Expand Inclusionary Practice Project to Include Preschools

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Haring Center for Inclusive Education

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Haring Center for Inclusive Education at the University of Washington announced that they are expanding their Inclusionary Practice Project (IPP) to include preschools across the state. This work is part of a statewide effort to help more schools to adopt a culture of inclusion.

“When we meaningfully include students with disabilities in general education settings with their peers, all students see improved academic and social outcomes,” said Glenna Gallo, assistant superintendent of special education at OSPI.

In Washington, 49.7% of students with disabilities are participating in early childhood classes separate from their peers. Further, Washington is currently one of the least inclusive states, ranking 44th in the nation.

Senate Debates Funding for Re-opening Schools

Students wearing masks outside school building

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. 

COVID-19 Education Coalition Supports the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act and Increases in Federal FY21 Education Appropriations

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.

ISTE Hosts Summer Learning Academy for Educators and Teacher Candidates

ISTE Summer Learning AcademyAs we look toward fall 2020, it is clear that PK-12 schools will continue to use some blend of online and face-to-face learning as they deal with social distancing requirements and a possible resurge of COVID-19 cases. Teaching effectively with technology is now an essential competency for all educators.

This summer provides a window of opportunity to deepen teacher candidates’ ability to effectively use technology to support learning. But that shift will not happen through checklists or tool training alone. Educators need explicit strategies and peer support. They also need professional learning experiences that will count towards their ongoing career development and continuing education credits. 

To address these issues, AACTE is proud to team up with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to launch a Summer Learning Academy designed to prepare K-12 educators and teacher candidates for teaching in online and blended learning settings this fall.

This fun 3-week summer learning experience will provide the online teaching support educators have been asking for in a flexible format that meets their needs. Educators who successfully complete the program earn continuing education units (CEUs) and graduate-level credit.

Schools Struggle to Reopen During Pandemic: Will Congress Help?

Law and Education ConceptThis 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.

Police Reform in the Wake of George Floyd’s Death: Is it Coming?  How Will it Affect Schools?

The purview of state and local government police reform is rapidly moving into the realm of the federal government. House Democrats have acted quickly, introducing a sweeping bill, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 with 200 sponsors. Republicans in both the House and Senate are feeling the pressure and discussions are underway, albeit for a far more limited approach. The White House is sending mixed messages, on the one hand calling for reform and on the other, calling for law and order. 

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is taking the lead for Republicans in the Senate and has been in conversation with the White House. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a top Trump ally in the House, said he will release his own plan shortly. Senate proposals appear to feature the improvement of federal data collection on the use of force and no-knock warrants as well as police training. White House spokespersons said that ending qualified immunity, which protects police officers from civil lawsuits, was a nonstarter.

AACTE Congratulates 2020 National Teacher of the Year Tabatha Rosproy

2020 National Teacher of the Year - Tabatha RosproyAACTE congratulates 2020 National Teacher of the Year Tabatha Rosproy and AACTE member institution Fort Hays State University for preparing her for a distinguished teaching career. Rosproy, a 10-year veteran Kansas teacher, is the first early childhood educator to be named National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Rosproy teaches preschool at Winfield Early Learning Center in Winfield, Kansas, which is housed in a local retirement community and nursing home. Her classroom is an inclusive inter-generational program that provides preschoolers and residents with multiple daily interactions and serves special education and typically developing preschoolers in a full-day setting.  As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of school buildings across the country, Rosproy served as a co-chair of the educator task force that helped compile Kansas’s continuous learning guidance.

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