Posts Tagged ‘federal issues’

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Updated Resource to Support the Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs

The U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the Departments) today announced the release of an updated joint-policy statement on supporting the inclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood programs.

The HHS-ED Policy Statement on the Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs builds upon a statement originally released in 2015 and includes a renewed commitment and urgency, as children with disabilities continue to face barriers to accessing and fully participating in inclusive early childhood programs. The statement was updated consistent with a directive to both agencies in President Biden’s Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers.

Department of Education, State and Local Organizations Commit to Bolstering Access to Mental Health Supports for Students

The U.S. Department of Education, National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), National Association of Counties (NACo), and U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) released the following joint statement to advance their unified commitment to bolster mental health supports for students:  

“Nationwide, students continue to struggle with mental health challenges. The pandemic’s unprecedented disruptions in their school and social lives exacerbated rates of depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness that were already on the rise. From classrooms to Congress, we all have a role to play in meeting this urgent need. 

Biden-Harris Administration Launches Initiative to Promote Multilingual Education for a Diverse Workforce

As part of its Raise the Bar: Create Pathways for Global Engagement, the Biden-Harris Administration launched “Being Bilingual is a Superpower,” an initiative by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) to promote multilingual education and bolster high-quality language programs and a diverse multilingual educator workforce across the country. 

“Being Bilingual is a Superpower” will promote and further the understanding of bilingualism and biliteracy as an educational and economic imperative for student success, global competitiveness, and engagement. The new initiative under the Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) seeks to promote research-based bilingual educational opportunities and language instruction in early learning education settings and beyond. 

“Make no mistake: multilingualism is a superpower. Knowing more than one language, acquiring a new language through school, or learning new languages later in life can provide tangible academic, cognitive, economic, and sociocultural advantages,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “As our nation continues to grow more diverse, and as our global economy becomes more interconnected, we cannot seize our nation’s full potential to compete and lead the world unless we Raise the Bar and provide all students with opportunities to become multilingual.”

PEN America Publishes New Report on 2023 Censorship Efforts in PK-12 and University Classrooms

PEN America’s new report, America’s Censored Classrooms 2023: Lawmakers Shift Strategies as Resistance Rises, written by program director Jeremy C. Young and research consultant Jeffrey Adam Sachs has now been published, highlighting the progress of educational gag orders as a result of state legislative sessions in 2023.

The report finds that, while the threat of gag orders has not diminished this year, the form and structure of such laws have changed dramatically. According to the report, more gag orders became law this year than in 2022, though fewer were introduced.

In PK-12, there was a major shift away from critical race theory (CRT) bans toward “Don’t Say Gay” bills, many of them as a result of Florida’s law last year. These bills attempted to censor any mention of gender, sexuality, or identity in the classroom, including extending some bans all the way through grade 12. In higher education, there was a shift away from classroom restrictions and toward limits on university governance processes that protect academic freedom. Diversity and inclusion bans, curricula, general education courses, accreditation agencies, and even university mission statements were censored, particularly in Florida, and Texas, and a bill still under consideration in Ohio.

In Hawaii: Teaching Kids To Read Is Going Back To Basics

This article was originally published on October 29, 2023, with Honolulu Civic Beat.

At Makakilo Elementary, Christine Carder posed a question to her first graders. “What letters make the sound ‘ea’ as in tea?” The class eagerly scrambled to write down the correct letter combination in their notebooks.

This exercise helps to build students’ phonemic awareness, instructional coach Karen Yogi explained to the group of parents invited to observe Makakilo’s reading lessons for the morning. Older students will later advance to activities such as reading in pairs and assessing each other’s fluency and vocabulary skills, Yogi added.

“This is why my son says he’s famished at dinner, instead of hungry,” said parent Donna Sinclair, noting the improvement she’s seen in her fifth-grader’s vocabulary this year.

Makakilo Elementary is one of about 80 schools in the state to receive funding from a roughly $50 million federal grant awarded in 2019 to improve literacy among the country’s youngest readers.

Department of Education Provides New Raise the Bar Brief and Map Data

The U.S. Department of Education has published a new Raise the Bar Policy Brief, Eliminating Educator Shortages through Increasing Educator Diversity and Addressing High-need Shortage Areas. The brief highlights key Department efforts to support and advance educator diversity and address high-need shortage areas, as well as national and state data on teacher diversity and areas in which states have particular shortages. It includes visualizations spotlighting state and national data on educator diversity, including in a range of roles and the diversity of students enrolled in educator preparation programs, as well as data on states’ projected shortage areas for 2023-24.

The Department is committed to a comprehensive policy agenda to recruit, prepare, and retain a racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse and well-prepared educator workforce. This includes promoting educator diversity while recruiting, preparing, retaining, and supporting teachers, administrators, and other educators and ensuring that education is a profession that people from all backgrounds can pursue. Developing and supporting a diverse educator workforce is critical to strengthening student success. Additionally, addressing high-need shortage areas ensures all students have access to a high-quality, well-rounded education. Through Raise the Bar: Lead the World, the Department is working in partnership with states, tribes, local educational agencies (LEAs), and educator preparation programs (EPPs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), to eliminate educator shortages in our nation’s schools and to strengthen and diversify the education profession.

Washington Update: Speaker Johnson Elected, Department of Education Awards Grants for Fostering Diverse Schools

This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Editor’s Note: This is the final Washington Update published on the Ed Prep Matters blog. The updates on federal policies and legislation will now be included in the biweekly member-exclusive AACTE Talks Policy newsletter from AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone. To read the latest issue, visit
On Wednesday, after three weeks of chaos, the United States House of Representatives elected Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) as speaker. Speaker Johnson was first elected to the House in 2016 after practicing constitutional law for two decades. Before his election as speaker, Johnson served as vice chair of the GOP Conference. Speaker Johnson was one of eight House members who served on former President Trump’s defense team during the first impeachment trial in the Senate. He also played a key role in assembling the House Republican case for objecting to the certification of former President Trump’s 2020 loss on January 6, 2021 — recruiting colleagues to support that effort and helming a legal brief seeking to overturn the 2020 election.

Department of Education Launches New Centers, Biden-Harris Administration Announces Grants

This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

As of the writing of this update, the House has been without a speaker and effectively paralyzed for ten days.

Meanwhile, eyes around the world are focused on the horrific events occurring in Israel. The uptick in acts of antisemitism and Islamophobia at colleges and universities has prompted new pressure on the Department of Education to release a proposal that, as reported by Politico, would potentially force college administrators to investigate claims of discrimination against ethnic groups or risk losing federal money.

Congress will need to act swiftly to pass an aid package for both Israel and Ukraine and still needs to pass an FY24 spending bill before November 17 to avoid a potential government shutdown. 

With Congress caught up in the selection of a new Speaker of the House, today’s newsletter focuses on several recent announcements from the Biden-Harris Administration.

McCarthy Voted Out as Speaker and Student Debt Relief Announced

This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Because Kevin McCarthy was ousted as Speaker of the House, the House is effectively paralyzed until a new Speaker is chosen.  House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the number two House Republican, announced his candidacy, along with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. The election process begins today with a closed-door Republican meeting and voting on a new Speaker by the full House is scheduled for Wednesday.

Government Funding Extended, Shutdown Avoided

This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

On Saturday evening, with just hours to spare and with bipartisan action, Congress extended current government funding for 45 days – to November 17, preventing a government shutdown that otherwise would have occurred at the start of the new fiscal year on Sunday, October 1.

The bill is described as a relatively “clean” continuing resolution (CR), without the deep funding cuts to most domestic programs that some hardline conservatives sought or the emergency funding for Ukraine that many Democrats and some Republicans wanted. It remains to be seen what the decision to move forward with bipartisan action could mean for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Possible Government Shutdown and Attack on Educator Workforce Funding

This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

The alarm bells are beginning to sound in the nation’s capital as Washington D.C. lawmakers and federal employees prepare for a possible government shutdown.

Since Monday, House Republicans have postponed a vote on their proposed continuing resolution (CR) that would have extended government funding for one month but with an 8% cut to non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding, which includes education funding. The bill did not have enough support to pass after all Democrats opposed it and some Republicans sought deeper spending cuts.

The Republican House bill would slash education funding by nearly $64 billion or 28%. In a letter to House leadership, the Coalition for Teaching Quality described the bill as a direct attack on the educator workforce that will harm professionals at all levels, impacting students, families, and communities.

Whether the government shuts down after next Saturday, feedback to lawmakers on the importance of education funding is critical.

 Washington Update: AI, Appropriations, and Accelerating Academic Success

This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

As expected, it was another busy week in our nation’s capital with agenda items ranging from appropriations to artificial intelligence. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) held a forum on artificial intelligence (AI) for members of the upper chamber with c-suite tech giants like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates joining to offer insights into the rapidly developing technology.

As you will recall, last week Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), ranking member on the HELP Committee, released a white paper on AI and a request for comment from stakeholders. Expect artificial intelligence to continue to be a topic of conversation on the Hill as members grapple with the role of Congress in regulating this ever-changing technology.

The House Education and Workforce Committee marked-up and approved a slate of bills and resolutions including one that would block the new income-driven repayment plan known as Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE), (H.J. Res. 88). Another measure (H.R. 4259) would require schools or state education agencies to notify a parent who has a child with a disability that they have a right to bring an advocate or personnel to individualized education program meetings. It is a bipartisan bill with Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) leading the bill and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) co-sponsoring.

The number of legislative days remaining for Congress to pass a FY2024 budget or a continuing resolution to keep the government open, funded, and avoid a shutdown continues to dwindle.

Washington Update: The Senate Returns

This weekly Washington Update is intended to keep members informed on Capitol Hill activities impacting the educator preparation community. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

The Senate returned on Tuesday from August recess and all eyes quickly turned to appropriations. Members in the House return this coming Tuesday and there will already be a full agenda of action to both enact a necessary extension of government funding to start on October 1 and avoid a government shutdown (otherwise known as a continuing resolution) and passing FY 2024 government funding bills. With only three weeks remaining until the end of the fiscal year this will certainly be a busy and stressful time in Washington. Although Congress has been on recess for the past month, the work in DC doesn’t stop — a lot has happened since our last update. Let’s dive in.

Ranking Member Cassidy Releases Report on the Legislative Role of Congress as it relates to Artificial Intelligence

On Wednesday, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee released a white paper, Exploring Congress’ Framework for the Future of AI: The Oversight and Legislative Role of Congress Over the Integration of Artificial Intelligence in Health, Education, and Labor. The paper examines the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence (AI) and how Congress should regulate the technology. The report ends with a call for stakeholder input on “ways to improve the framework in which these technologies are developed, reviewed, and used” by submitting comments to by September 22. Read the white paper in its entirety.

Biden-Harris Administration Seeks IHE Nominations to Participate in Rulemaking Process on Student Debt Relief

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced the next step in its work to open a new pathway to student debt relief by soliciting nominations for negotiators who will participate in public rulemaking negotiation sessions this Fall. The Department is seeking nominations from 14 different constituency groups for the Student Loan Relief committee, which will meet for three virtual sessions beginning October 10. These nominations are the second step in a process known as “negotiated rulemaking,” which is required under the Higher Education Act for any regulations related to the Federal student financial aid programs.

AACTE Joins Education, Labor Departments in Release of National Guideline Standards for Teaching Apprenticeships

AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone, Ed.D., CAE, represented the association alongside state and national leaders to unveil the National Guideline Standards (NGS) for K-12 Teaching Apprenticeships released today at a briefing hosted by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Labor.

Federal, state, and local workforce and education leaders gathered to set a benchmark for high-quality teaching apprenticeship programs in August 2022. This initiative, launched by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the White House in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, tasked leaders to develop comprehensive guidelines for high-quality educator apprenticeships. One year later, at today’s event, the Department of Labor announced the approval of the NGS, the culmination of an effort led by the Pathways Alliance through a working group co-chaired by Jacqueline King, Ph.D., of AACTE and representatives from Deans for Impact and National Center for Grow Your Own. These guidelines are a framework for states creating a registered apprenticeship program for K-12 teachers, outlining the requirements and responsibilities apprenticeship programs must fulfill.