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Posts Tagged ‘federal issues’

Congress Winds Down with Packed Agenda

U.S. Capitol

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.

The Senate returns to town today after Thanksgiving recess. Most pressing is the December 11 deadline to avoid a government shutdown. Meanwhile pressure to address an out-of-control pandemic with a fiscal relief bill does not appear to be in sight. And President Trump continues to challenge the outcome of the Presidential election. 

The 116th Congress Moves Toward a Shaky Finish

Progress with finalizing the FY 2021 spending bill is underway, but the outcome is far from certain. The four corners (Democratic and Republican leaders from the House and Senate) have been meeting and appear to be in agreement on top line spending numbers. The four corners also agree that they want a bill. President Trump remains a wild card. 

One of four outcomes is possible:  1) Congress completes all the funding bills by December 11 and the President signs them into law;  2) Congressional negotiators are making  good progress by December 11 and extend the current level of funding for a week or so while they continue to negotiate; 3) Congress passes a temporary funding measure through March or so, essentially punting decision-making into the next Congress; 4) Congress passes a bill before the end of the year and the President refuses to sign it causing a government shutdown. My money is on number 2. Congress is notorious for stretching out finalization of bills right up until the Christmas break.  It’s hard to imagine a government shutdown—even in the midst of the craziness these days—that seems a bridge too far.

Dr. Jill Biden — Next First Lady and Educator

This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and is reprinted with permission.

Jill Biden“American educators — It is a great day for y’all.” I was struck by this sentiment that was shared by President-elect Joe Biden in his speech to the nation on the evening of Nov. 7. Biden was referring to his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, a community college professor in Virginia. Dr. Biden spent her career as an educator and, now as first lady, will bring the focus of education directly into the White House. It indeed was a welcomed sentiment, particularly for public education, including pre-K-12 schools and higher education.

However, this is not the first time former educators have occupied the White House. Ten former presidents had some type of teaching experience in their backgrounds. For example, President Lyndon B. Johnson was a dedicated history teacher. Many first ladies also had teaching experience in their pasts, including Laura Bush, who was a teacher and a librarian.

But somehow, this feels quite different with Dr. Biden. Perhaps one can attribute the difference to the serious issue the pandemic has caused for educators across the nation. Young children to college-age students have felt the impact of online teaching and the disruption of what once was considered normal schooling for them.

AACTE Advocates for Educator Preparation with Biden Administration

Open book and american flag. Open book on wooden surface. Value your independence. Freedom for every man.

This past week, AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone sent a congratulatory letter to President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris on behalf of AACTE members, congratulating the 46th presidential administration and encouraging collaboration between the Association and our elected leaders. Gangone states, “AACTE supports your education priorities, which will ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity, or immigration status.” The letter further describes AACTE’s interest in the selection of a Secretary of Education who has a proven track record in promoting social justice. “Choosing a leader who is deeply committed to advancing our nation’s public schools and our institutions of higher education, as well as investing in the teaching profession so that every student has a fully prepared teacher, is essential.” 

AACTE will be providing the Biden-Harris Education Transition Team with our legislative and policy priorities in the coming weeks. As we move toward 2021, these priorities will be shared with our elected leader in Congress and policymakers across the nation within each state.

Dear President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris:

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) congratulates you on your election and looks forward to working with you and your administration as you lead our nation to “build back better.” AACTE members are schools and colleges of education that prepare the education workforce of the future. Members are in every state in the nation and include public and private colleges and universities, HBCUs and Hispanic-serving institutions, as well as community colleges. AACTE members ensure that all PK-12 students receive high quality instruction, especially critical during the current pandemic. Our educator candidates are salient assets to public schools with long-standing partnerships between our members and their local school districts.

Educator preparation sits at a crossroad of crises generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the public education workforce has already lost more than 600,000 jobs, university-based educator preparation programs are also experiencing significant reductions in enrollment and program closures. Rising demand for new teachers and shrinking production capacity in colleges and universities threatens the high-quality education our populace needs for a rich quality of life and to ensure our global competitiveness for generations. We look forward to working with you to address this national challenge and support the institutions preparing our educator workforce.

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. 

Is Your School of Education in Compliance with Federal State Authorization Regulations?

As of July 1, 2020 all universities were required to comply with 2019 federal state authorization regulations.  Among the requirements in these complex regulations is one related to all programs that fulfill educational requirements of a profession that requires licensure or certification. Included among these programs are those in schools and colleges of education—for teachers, psychologists, school counselors and more.  Every university with such programs is required to make public, for each state, whether the program does or does not meet such requirements.  For example, a special education teacher preparation program at a university in Florida must disclose whether its requirements would lead to certification in Minnesota.  

MSU determined to provide a university-wide compilation of program requirements in relation to state certification requirements rather than a college by college compilation. Who was involved? What is the utility of doing it this way?

At MSU, compliance with this requirement took a village and included substantial support from university-level offices. First, the General Counsel’s office and Registrar’s office worked with administrators from across campus to develop a plan for compliance with both these regulations and also the similar reporting about online programs required by NC-SARA. This group identified the sequence of necessary work and set out due dates for various pieces. Second, staff from the General Counsel’s office and Registrar’s office met as needed with individuals from colleges, in addition to continuing to meet with the ad hoc group that created the process. In response to a request from colleges, the university also took care of all the relevant notifications to current students, which was a great help.

2020 Election Results: What Do They Mean for Education?

2020 Election Results Webinar imageJoin AACTE government relations consultant Jane West and her insightful and politically astute guests to dissect the 2020 election results at the federal level on November 18. Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis for the American Association of Colleges and Universities, will offer a perspective from the higher education sector while Danny Carlson, director of policy and advocacy for the National Association of Elementary School Principals, will cover the PK-12 perspective.  Join us as we consider the following:

  • Who is in the running for the next Secretary of Education?
  • What will the education priorities be for the next four years?
  • Will there EVER be another COVID relief bill? What will be in there for education?
  • Who will chair the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in the Senate and what difference will it make?
  • Who will take the helm of the all-important chair for the Appropriations Committee in the House and what difference will it make?

We will have a lively discussion about where the election results stand, what is possible with a new balance of power and how you can continue to make your voice heard!  Remember, if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu!

Register for our webinar Wednesday, November 18 from 3:00 -4:00 pm ET.

‘Tis the Season to Vote: AACTE Online Tools Can Help

Closeup shot of one vote button in focus in between many other buttons in a box. Selective focus with shallow depth of field.

Election season is upon us. According to CNN, more than 50 million Americans have already cast their ballot in the 2020 election by mail or by early voting. Some predict that as many as two-thirds of the electorate will have voted before election day arrives on November 3. The remaining third of Americans will go to their neighborhood polling place next Tuesday and cast their vote in person for the men and women they want to see run their cities, municipalities, states and the country.  Across the nation, hundreds of political offices are up for grabs and thousands of men and women have registered to have their names placed on the ballot. Some of the names will be familiar to voters, many more will not be.  For those seeking information about candidates and candidate positions on education, AACTE is keenly positioned to help.

2020 Teacher Quality Partnership Grantees Announced

Teacher Quality PartnershipThe Department of Education has awarded 23 grants administered as a of part of a pool of funding created to benefit programs including the Teaching Quality Partnership Program (TQP).  Of the 10 grants awarded under Teacher Quality Partnerships program—totaling $7.3 million—six of the grantees are AACTE members.

The 23 grants, totaling nearly $100 million, will promote educator development and training in alignment with a signature economic initiative of the Administration. The grants are designed to contribute to the enhancement of the professional development and effectiveness of teachers and principals.  Each of the awards went to schools or nonprofits that connect in some way with economic Opportunity Zones to serve economically distressed or underserved communities around the country. 

The Teacher Quality Partnership grant program, authorized in Title II of the Higher Education Act, is the only federal initiative designed to strengthen and reform educator preparation at institutions of higher education. Strongly supported by AACTE, TQP grants support the preparation of profession-ready teachers for high-need schools and high-need subject areas. Under this program, partnerships between institutions of higher education and high-need schools and districts compete for funding to develop master’s-level residency programs or to reform undergraduate preservice preparation programs.

Hirono, Booker Announce Legislation to Improve Distance and Blended Learning for K-12 Schools During COVID-19

The following article features comments by AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone on behalf of the Association in support of the legislation. 

Distance Learning

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), along with her colleague Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) announced their plan to introduce the Learning Opportunity and Achievement Act (LOAA), which would improve distance and blended learning in our public schools during the coronavirus pandemic. LOAA combats instructional loss, particularly for at-risk and marginalized students, by providing support for professional development and training programs for teachers, tutoring and academic services, research and best practices, and other initiatives to enhance equity and access for all students. Specifically, the bill provides funding to address instructional loss for at-risk and marginalized students, including low-income students, minority students, children with disabilities, English learners, migratory students, homeless children and youth, and children or youth in foster care.

“Over the past few months, I’ve heard from students, parents, and educators across Hawaii who are doing their best to adjust to distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic. My own education was fundamental to my success, and this generation of students deserves a quality education—regardless of the challenges the pandemic poses. LOAA provides vital resources so educators can support their students, particularly those who are most at risk for instructional loss. I will continue to advocate for robust funding that supports healthy and safe learning environments for students in Hawaii and across the country,” Senator Hirono said.

AACTE Issue Brief Explores Financial Challenges Facing Future Teachers

How Do Education Students Pay for College?The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) released today its latest issue brief, How Do Education Students Pay for College? The report provides colleges of education a closer look at the financial pressures impacting education students, by type of institution attended and by student race and ethnicity, through a detailed examination of the costs they face and the financial sources they use to pay those expenses. The findings reveal the financial challenges future educators will face and the financial disincentives to pursuing a teaching career, especially for students of color. It also supports the necessity of compensating educators fairly, in particular novice teachers who may be most burdened by student loan debt.

“The global pandemic has deepened the national teacher shortage crisis. It is critical now more than ever to recruit diverse, talented people into the teaching profession, which requires our nation’s leaders to revamp policies and practices that make college affordable and increase teacher compensation,” said Lynn M. Gangone, president and CEO of AACTE.

Join AACTE Webinar: Explore Financial Challenges Facing Teacher Candidates, Implications for EPPs

How do Education Students Pay for CollegeThere is a growing body of research suggesting that concerns about compensation generally—and about being able to repay student loans in particular—are dissuading college students from choosing teaching as a career. These financial concerns have only been exacerbated by COVID-19 and its attendant financial crisis.

To help members better understand the financial pressures impacting education students, AACTE has released the new How Do Education Students Pay for College? issue brief that takes a detailed look at how students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education pay for college, including the costs they face and the financial sources they tap to meet those expenses. 

On Wednesday, October 21 from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET, AACTE will host a webinar on this important topic. As the issue brief’s author, I will review the research findings, and I’ll be joined by AACTE consultant Jane West for a discussion of the implications of these findings for campus practice and federal policy.  West will also share AACTE’s priorities for strengthening aid to future educators in federal appropriations bills as well as the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. 

The one-hour session will feature time for questions and discussion.

Register now. 

As Congress Heads Home, Agenda in Flux

The US CapitolThis 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.

The Senate Passes Funding Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown/ COVID Funding Bill Remains Stalled

The federal fiscal year ended on Wednesday, September 30 at midnight. That day, the Senate passed a bill (with a 84-10 bipartisan vote) to keep the government funded at last year’s level temporarily—a stopgap measure called a Continuing Resolution. The House passed the same bill last week with a bipartisan vote. The President signed the bill a few hours after the deadline—early Thursday morning—so that functioning and funding of the federal government continues uninterrupted.  The bill expires December 11, after the election, leaving a lame duck session of Congress to deal with it. 

In the House, Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) was absorbed in trying to come up with a last-minute deal with the White House to secure a long-awaited next COVID relief package. She met repeatedly with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who appears to be the White House’s lead on this, but did not achieve a final deal. So, she turned to her Democratic colleagues in the House and passed a trimmed-down version of the HEROES Act—their COVID relief bill that passed several months ago, but made no headway in the Senate.

Tides Continue to Shift on Capitol Hill as Election Approaches

Close-up of a bright classical pillar

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.

Passing of RBG Alters Landscape Moving Forward in Congress

The sudden passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg a week ago—and the subsequent immediate determination by President Trump that he would move a nominee to fill the vacancy quickly—have altered the DC landscape dramatically. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) quickly assembled the 51 votes he needs for confirmation of her replacement. Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsay Graham (R-SC), has indicated that confirmation hearings for the new nominee may take place the week of October 12. All roads lead to a final floor vote in the Senate before the November 3 election, possibly on Halloween. The Democrats will be unable to block this vote. The only way it could fail is if three Republican Senators oppose the nominee. Two have indicated that they are opposed to this vote prior to the election (Sen. Collins of Maine and Sen. Murkowski of Alaska), but the elusive third appears out of reach.

The Preparation: AACTE 2020 Inaugural Virtual Day on the Hill

As first and third time AACTE Day on the Hill participants, we eagerly participated in this inaugural virtual event to prepare for congressional visits. Although we were not physically together, Lynn M. Gangone, president and CEO, made us feel welcomed and valued members of AACTE during her opening greeting to attendees.   

Why Day on the Hill? 

Beth: As a newbie, I wondered about the lay of the land. Then Jane West, AACTE government relations consultant, shared, “The Big Picture: Current Policy & Political Landscape,” providing a framework for what we need to do and why.

Anne: After three years of attending the event, I was inspired by Jane West’s quote: “If your voice isn’t heard, someone else’s is,” which provided us meaning. 

What and how?
AACTE’s legislative priorities provided the framework. Having the specific agenda items gave us the focus we needed. 

Jacqueline Rodriguez, AACTE vice president of research, policy and advocacy, joined West in stressing the importance of building a rapport. Rodriguez supported planning with spreadsheets and materials. AACTE gave the legislative framework and a foundation. We’re ready to work!   

State and regional colleagues collaborated to plan for advocacy. Presenters joined the meetings, to support the planning process. The virtual format allowed people to “travel” amongst groups. We’re ready to plan! 

Congress Aims for the September 30 Finish Line

Sunset sky over the US Capitol building dome in Washington DC.

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.

Congress Looks to Avoid Government Shutdown after Failing to Move COVID Relief Bill

Remember your students who waited until the last minute to turn in their assignments? Well, they are all Members of Congress now! Congress will walk right up to the September 30 deadline before passing a short-term measure that will avoid a government shutdown and keep federal funding flowing.  Called a “Continuing Resolution”—or CR—the bill will be a “simple extension” to continue current levels of funding for the time being. The White House, Senate and House leadership agree that this must be passed by the deadline and a shutdown must be avoided. 

Two outstanding questions remain. The first is: What will the expiration date be for the CR?  The answer is anywhere between mid-December and March.  

The second outstanding question is what will and will not be attached to the CR? While all parties are agreeing on a “clean” CR—meaning no “poison pill” amendments—there are always what are known in Washington-speak as “anomalies.”  These are friendly changes to law, which are not supposed to be controversial. Of course, ensuring that all parties agree that something is not controversial can be a challenge. Given that passage of a COVID relief bill failed to make progress last week, there will be pressure to add COVID-related provisions to this bill.  Most anticipate that there will be no further action on a COVID relief bill until after the election in November. Stay tuned for some action on the CR next week.

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