Posts Tagged ‘federal issues’

Congress Keeps Government Open, Confirms Department of Education Appointees

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. 

It’s been a tense week in Washington as a vote to save the nation from default hovered on the horizon. With a temporary solution in place, the rest of the year promises to be a continued set of cliff hangers.  

First Log Jam Broken in Congress—More to Come

Last week, President Biden signed into a law a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through December 3, thus avoiding a government shutdown. The stopgap measure was the first of four major pieces of legislation on Congress’s agenda. At the start of this week the other three—bi-partisan infrastructure, reconciliation, and legislation to raise the debt ceiling—remained in limbo. But, on Thursday evening 11 Senate Republicans joined with all Democrats to pass a short term solution  to the debt ceiling.

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 Plows Forward on Complex Legislative Agenda

Education Funds Hanging in the Balance

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 Struggles to Move Forward

Since returning from the August recess Members of Congress have been scrambling to get four major pieces of legislation passed and ultimately to keep the government running. As you will recall, the big four are: a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown, legislation to raise the debt ceiling to avoid the government from heading into default on its obligations, the bi-partisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill.  Last week we reported that the four trains appeared to be moving down the track and were poised to avoid a collision after all—this week, we’re on standby.

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.

House Passes Stopgap Funding Bill and Reconciliation Gains Momentum

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.

Gavel in front of U.S. flagAs you will recall, after returning last week from the August recess Members of Congress were off to the races to get four major pieces of legislation passed and ultimately to keep the government running. The big four are the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the reconciliation bill, a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown, and legislation to raise the debt ceiling to avoid the government from heading into default on its obligations. On Tuesday evening House Democrats took an initial step towards warding off a government shutdown, passing a short-term spending bill that would keep the government funded through early December and lift the limit on federal borrowing until after the midterm elections in 2022.

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.

NASSP Calls on Federal Officials to Protect School Leaders from Threats and Violence

NASSP logoThe National Association for Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is calling on federal officials to provide support for school leaders being threatened and undermined by those who disagree with school guidelines on COVID-19 best practices.

While the pandemic has impacted every one—school leaders are bearing the brunt of conflicts over masks, quarantines, vaccines, and other highly charged issues. They have been faced with hostile community members, threats to their own safety or safety of the school, and with non-compliance with rules that are meant to keep us all safe.

Teresa M. Hill, Principal at Walden Grove High School in Arizona and NASSP member, tells of her experience with threats at her school: “One month ago, seven people refused to leave our campus demanding a quarantined student attend class. After a lockdown of the front office for three hours, we were forced to arrest three of them. This has resulted in multiple threatening and intimidating voice messages, emails, and social media comments directly targeting me. Calling me a Nazi, a fascist, using profanity, and being told to ‘eat the end of a shotgun’ is beyond disturbing. Two weeks later, three men threatened and intimidated an elementary principal in my area by demanding a citizen’s arrest while holding zip ties in their hands.”

Congress Reconvenes with Lots at Stake for Education

Clock and American currency. Time is money 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.

Members of Congress are in a Race Against the Clock with Critical Deadlines Looming this Fall 

Members of Congress are in a race against the clock to get four major pieces of legislation passed and ultimately to keep the government running. The big four are the bi-partisan infrastructure bill, the reconciliation bill, a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown, and legislation to raise the debt ceiling to avoid the government from heading into default on its obligations.

The first bill, the bi-partisan infrastructure bill, passed the Senate before the August recess. It is now up to the House to act. However, the bill’s progress is tied to the fate of the second bill—reconciliation (which is a Democrat only initiative)—which is described further below. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) promised Democrats that she will hold a vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill by September 27. She also pledged to approve the partisan reconciliation bill—a $3.5 trillion plan for social programs (including education)—in conjunction with the bi-partisan infrastructure bill. By tying those two bills together she is hoping to keep her caucus on the same page, with both moderates and liberals supporting them both.

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.

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

House Marks Up Proposed Build Back Better Act

Signing paperwork with a fountain paperwork. The image has added grain and styling.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 following is an interim update on the big development in the House this week—the Committee on Education and Labor’s markup of the long-awaited Reconciliation bill, which features significant investments in the educator workforce.  

The House Education and Labor Committee Begins Mark Up on Reconciliation Proposal 

As you will recall, several months ago President Biden proposed two significant investments in the nation’s infrastructure—both human and physical: the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan. The human infrastructure component is now being developed by Congress, in the form of a reconciliation bill. Yesterday, the House Education and Labor Committee began to mark up its portion of the reconciliation proposal. The 289 page proposal, with a $761 billion price tag—otherwise known as the Build Back Better Act—is part of the larger $3.5 trillion proposal.

As described by the Committee, the proposal would lower costs for families, secure good-paying jobs for American workers, and set a strong foundation of America’s children. The three major education programs in the bill include Universal Pre-K, Tuition-Free Community College, and Child Care.

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

 

 

Telling Our Stories on Capitol Hill

Unrecognizable woman having videocall with her african american boss, using laptop in office, cropped. Lady employee having business training online, business woman talking to partner online, collageIn a couple of weeks, I’ll participate in my first Day on the Hill as a member of the AACTE Committee on Government Relations and Advocacy.  I am really excited by the opportunity and want to invite you to participate.  Like many AACTE members, I have worked with city and state elected officials, policymakers, and representatives from state agencies.  But speaking with members of Congress and their staffs offers an opportunity for even greater engagement.

As leaders in education, AACTE members all know that we must be outward facing, managing our colleges while we tell our story to many stakeholders.  That story is what enticed most of us to get in this line of work in the first place.  We all advocate for our needs and interests all the time, and although our interests may not be identical, they are often closely related regardless of our institutions.  Some of us push for greater equity in teacher preparation programs.  We want to diversify the teacher pipeline and the resultant teacher workforce, knowing how vital representation along the lines of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and sexual identity is to students across the country.

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.

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