Posts Tagged ‘federal issues’

The Biden-Harris Era Begins

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.

 Just two weeks after a riotous mob vandalized the Capitol, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office on the steps of the very same building. Setting the tone of unity, President Biden urged us to “see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors” and to “join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.” With three living former presidents (Clinton, Bush, Obama) from both sides of the aisle joining together to send a message of support to incoming President Biden, a hopeful tone is set for moving forward.

With astounding speed, the new Administration got right to work. President Biden signed 17 executive orders, memoranda, and proclamations on the first afternoon of his Presidency. Among them were orders to rejoin the Paris climate accord, end the former Administration’s travel ban on predominantly Muslim and African countries; impose a national mandate requiring masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands, and by all federal employees; and to pause Federal student loan payments through September.    

On Thursday, the president took further  executive actions that aligned with his pledge to reopen most K-12 schools in his first 100 days in office. These orders will help support the reopening goal by way of developing a national strategy to get the coronavirus under control. One executive order  will direct the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to provide reopening guidance to schools with a focus on masking, testing and cleaning. A separate presidential memorandum will offer reimbursement to schools for purchases of personal protective equipment through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund.

Looking Ahead to the Biden Administration and the 117th Congress

White House

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.

Yesterday, President-Elect Biden revealed his massive $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, hoping to jump start consideration in Congress. The goal of the education portion of the bill is to provide enough support for a robust vaccination plan, treatment, and funding to reopen a majority of K-8 schools safely within 100 days.  The proposal provides $170 billion for K-12 and higher education. To date, the Congress has enacted almost $113 billion for the Department of Education in COVID relief funds. 

Of the $170 billion in education funds, $130 billion would be for K-12 relief intended to cover technology needs; counseling, support for social, emotional, and academic needs of students; provision of smaller classes’ PPE, extra transportation; cleaning costs; and more. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund includes $35 billion for public colleges, public and private HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions to provide online learning and emergency grants to students. A Governors’ fund is allocated $5 billion to support education for areas that have been the hardest hit by COVID, from pre-K through higher education. In addition, $350 billion is made available for state and local fiscal relief, a portion of which may be used for education. Funds are provided for regular testing for teachers and students, per recommendations from the Rockefeller Foundation.

A New Year, Administration and Congress: Join the AACTE Federal Update Discussion on Jan. 21

Biden Administration and the 117th Congress: The Significance for AACTE MembersThe events of January 6 shocked the nation. We witnessed a challenge to our democracy that none of us could ever have imagined. 

Just days before, senators and representatives were peacefully sworn in to the 117th Congress.  On Wednesday, the joint session of the United States Congress was just beginning to count the electoral college votes for president and vice president when rioters stormed into the United States Capital, one of the nation’s most treasured buildings.

Fortunately, order was eventually established, and the joint session continued its work.  This was the final step before Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in as the U.S. president and vice president, respectively, on January 20. It also means that Democrats will control the House of Representatives, Senate and White House and give them significant leverage to implement their legislative priorities. 

What does all this mean for AACTE, its members, and the students they work with?

AACTE Welcomes New Senior Director of Federal Relations and Policy

Michael RoseAACTE is pleased to announce that Michael Rose has joined its staff as senior director of federal relations and policy as part of the Research, Policy and Advocacy team.

Rose is an experienced government relations professional with over 20 years of experience. He started his career in Washington, DC, working for U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg from his home state of New Jersey.  After the senator’s retirement, Rose worked for more than six years in the House of Representatives for Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Most recently, Rose was the director of government affairs for the National Association for College Admission Counseling.  In this role, he was the association’s main contact for Members of Congress, congressional staff, and various federal agencies regarding its college access and student protections agendas, among other issues.

Unpacking the Invasion of the Capitol and the 117th Congress

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.

U.S Capitol, U.S. Flag, and Declaration of indeoendenceThe 117th Congress Begins

Members of the 117th Congress were sworn in on January 3. Just three days later, they faced the unimaginable trauma of a breach of the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters disrupting the certification of the electoral votes that would confirm Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. Despite the mayhem, chaos, and fear, after the Capitol was cleared, lawmakers went back to work and at 3 a.m. on January 7 confirmed the results of the election. Challenges to the electoral results by over 100 Republican Members of Congress were defeated, as both Republicans and Democrats—including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)—railed against the tactic.

Just days before the Capitol breach, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was voted in, once again, as the Speaker of the House—albeit by a narrow margin. The vote seals Pelosi in the record books as the first woman, and the first person in six decades, to regain the speaker’s gavel—now twice—after losing it.

AACTE Statement on the Storming of the U.S. Capitol Building

The following statement was included in a Washington Post article on January 7.

AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement today regarding the horrific events that took place yesterday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol building:

“Our nation experienced a serious threat to our treasured democracy as rioters stormed one of our nation’s sacred buildings, the U.S. Capitol, intending damage and insurrection. We witnessed a challenge to our democracy that none of us could ever have imagined. Generated by our nation’s President, some Members of Congress, and their denial of the results of our free and open electoral process, this unlawful invasion of the Capitol has left us all stunned. Never could we imagine such an event would occur in our nation’s capital, the seat of our democracy.

We are further outraged by the vast difference in how these rioters were treated by police as compared to how peaceful protesters for Black Lives Matter have been treated. The discrepancies are stark and maddening.

Biden Administration and the 117th Congress: The Significance for AACTE Members

Biden Administration and the 117th Congress: The Significance for AACTE Members Not many of us will shed a tear now that 2020 is behind us. The outbreak of COVID-19 resulted in a long and difficult year for students, families, schools, and colleges. Virtually, no part of our nation (or the world) was untouched. But with the start of 2021, we hope that the worst is behind us. 

The country will see a new congress sworn in on January 3 and, on January 20, Joseph R. Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the 46th president and vice-president of the United States of America. 

Despite 2020 being in our rear-view mirror, the challenges we face due to COVID-19, the related economic collapse, and a politically divided country remain.

The Financial Crossroad of Teacher Education

Teacher wearing mask in classroom

Administrators and faculty of educator preparation programs (EPPs) have long been concerned about the challenge of attracting students to a profession where college affordability and financial compensation discourages them from pursuing teaching as a career. However, due to the pandemic, the concern is growing. Our nation’s educational system is at a critical crossroad where teacher shortages and budget cuts are colliding. On one hand we have teachers who are retiring early amid health concerns or being furloughed, and on the other hand, we have EPPs with shrinking programs and enrollment. This is the perfect storm many education leaders have feared, and the impact will be acute if we do not find ways to encourage diverse and talented students to enter a career in education.

To start, we need to address the financial challenges that future educators face, including a high student loan debt to earnings ratio and lack of awareness of scholarships and loan forgiveness at the federal, state, and university levels. Recently, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) released the Issue Brief, How Do Education Students Pay for College?, based upon data from the 2015-16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS). According to the data, by the time education students graduate, 76% of them have taken student loans, and the average amount they borrow is nearly $28,000.

The Nominee the Country Needs to Build Education Back Better

(December 18, 2020, Washington, D.C.) The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement today regarding the new Secretary of Education under the Biden-Harris administration:

“AACTE has happily submitted recommendations and participated in discussions with the Biden Transition Team regarding what is needed to rebuild and revolutionize education. We have highlighted the critical need for a COVID-19 relief bill, provided critical suggestions for the first 100-day executive actions, and contributed ideas for long term strategies and investments.

For the last four years, our nation has suffered from misguided and inadequate leadership at the U.S. Department of Education. This Administration’s failures have taken our nation’s PK-12 schools and system of higher education down a destructive path. While school districts struggle amidst a shortage of educators, with more than 600,000 jobs lost, so too do colleges of education with lowered program enrollment, program closures and faculty layoffs. The educator pipeline is at risk, and the future of our public education system is in jeopardy.

Who are the Candidates for the Biden Secretary of Education?

Welcome to Washington’s “end of the semester” sprint. Will that FY 2021 spending bill cross the finish line by the end of the year or be pushed into next year for the new Congress to grapple with?  Will the President refuse to sign the bill and cause a government shutdown? Will there be another COVID relief bill any time soon? And how about the Biden Secretary of Education?

Congress Punts FY 2021 Funding Bill and COVID Relief Package until Next Week

They say there is nothing that focuses the mind like a deadline. In Washington, that means moving the deadline to the edge of the cliff before acting. This week, the House and Senate agreed to extend the December 11 deadline for funding the government to next Friday, December 18, giving them an additional week to negotiate and finalize the $1.4 trillion bill.  President Trump is expected to sign the bill, called a continuing resolution, but he is a hard one to predict. 

Consensus on a bi-partisan COVID relief bill seems to be growing on one day and shrinking the next. Many appear hopeful that another week could bring them to closure so that the COVID relief bill and the FY 2021 spending bill could be packaged together and delivered to the White House as an early Christmas present.  There could also be a further extension of the deadline, even through Christmas. Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) has said she is not leaving town without a deal on both. 

AACTE Urges Federal, State and University Leaders to Strengthen EPPs in Challenging Times

These are indeed difficult times for all levels of education, yet AACTE member institutions remain dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are ready to teach all learners. AACTE continues to advocate for and support schools and colleges of education in their efforts to navigate the teacher shortage and COVID-19 related financial challenges, and their work to identify viable solutions to the multiple challenges that currently impact education.

The global pandemic has deepened the national teacher shortage crisis. College and university programs that prepare our teachers, principals, school counselors, and other essential education professionals are experiencing a debilitating wave of closures and faculty layoffs. The rising demand for high-quality education in the 21st century and achieving a prosperous quality of life for themselves and their families. It is critical now more than ever to recruit diverse, talented people into the education profession, which requires our nation’s leaders allocating funds to aid colleges and universities in their recovery from the significant financial challenges caused by the pandemic. It is also critical for legislators to revamp policies and practices to support a diverse education workforce.

Desperate Circumstances Prompt a Desperate Call on Congress

COVID-19 outbreak impact This month, AACTE joined like-minded institutions in writing a letter to congressional leaders in updating their earlier findings regarding four key COVID-19-related economic indicators that are placing significant financial burdens on higher educational institutions. The emergence of more detailed data regarding these four categories (enrollment, student financial need, auxiliary revenues, and new expenditures) revealed the troubling truth that our prior estimates about the impact of COVID-19 on the economic health of educational institutions was significantly underestimated and that the challenges students and schools are facing are far more severe than initially thought.  

As a consequence of these updated findings, AACTE signed on to a new letter urging Congress and the Administration to finalize negotiations as quickly as possible on a supplemental spending bill of sufficient size to provide at least $120 billion in needed support to students and campuses across the country. The detailed new findings described in the letter, while suggesting a potentially long, painful economic road ahead for some higher ed, provides a detailed and illuminating accounting of the many ways COVID-19 is burdening enrollment, student aid, and revenues at institutions of higher learning around the country.

Webinar Recap: How Do Students Pay for College

A growing body of research suggests 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. To help AACTE members better understand the financial pressures impacting education students, a new issue brief 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. 

During AACTE’s webinar “How Do Students Pay for College,” author Jacqueline King and Jane West discussed the implications of these findings, as well as recommendations for campus practice and federal policy.

King began the webinar by explaining, “Student financing of education feels archaic and arcane … can be kind of intimidating.” To help those who were unable to join this webinar, outlined below are specific parts of the online discussion that may address some of your most pressing concerns around financing teacher candidate education. Access the recording at aacte.org. 

AACTE Sends Policy Priorities to Biden-Harris Education Transition Team

Hand writing Policy List with red markerThe nation’s transition to the 46th presidential administration are underway. AACTE provided the Biden-Harris Administration’s Education Transition Team with its policy priorities for the coming year. Much of AACTE’s priorities stem from its advocacy throughout the year to increase the federal investment in education in PK-20, with a specific focus on recruiting and sustaining candidates in its education preparation programs.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, educator preparation stands at a dangerous crossroad. The college and university programs that prepare our teachers, principals, school counselors, and other essential education professionals are experiencing a debilitating wave of closures and faculty layoffs.

LFA Urges CDC Committee on Vaccine Priorities to Consider School Staff

In partnership with Learning First Alliance, AACTE supports a letter sent to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) committee on vaccine priorities requesting that school personnel are a priority group once the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine begins. Below is a reprint from our partner organization, AASA: The School Superintendent Association, outlining the request.

LFA Board to CDC Committee on Vaccine Priorities

As part of our work with the Learning First Alliance, this week, AASA sent a letter to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) committee on vaccine priorities requesting that school personnel – including teachers, specialized instructional support personnel, aides, food service and custodial workers, and principals – are a priority group once the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine begins. Specifically, the letter highlights the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and indicates that prioritizing school personnel for the initial distribution is critical for building public trust and reaching the vaccine target immunity goal.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Federation of Teachers, American School Counselor Association, Consortium for School Networking, Learning Forward, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Education Association, National PTA, National School Boards Association, and National School Public Relations Association joined AASA in this effort. If you want to check out the full letter, then click here!

 

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