In early spring, when the coronavirus (COVID-19) shut the doors to classrooms, there was an optimistic belief that by fall the obstacles of the pandemic would disappear and in-class instruction would return to normal. However, as states began to lift emergency orders and school districts prepared to reopen schools, it became evident that education leaders would still be grappling with the unpredictable public health crisis this fall.
With COVID-19 spreading more rapidly in some regions of the United States, each state must assess whether they can safely open schools. Recently, some school districts that deemed it safe to reopen have reverted to remote learning when students and/or teachers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Certainly, navigating the current crisis is complicated, and it is having a profound effect on educator preparation programs (EPPs).
Due to PK-12 school closures in the spring, many teacher candidates were unable to complete their clinical and field experiences in a classroom setting—typically a prerequisite for licensure. Acknowledging that a lack of new teachers entering the field would adversely impact the current teacher shortage crisis, EPPs responded with alternative learning opportunities to ensure that teacher candidates are prepared and competent to enter their own classrooms. As a result, many states have implemented emergency policy changes to licensure, thus enabling recent graduates to teach this fall.
This moment in time is anything but typical. As the beginning of the school year nears and the pandemic surges, we are left wondering, what will our classrooms look like this fall? Preparing to return to school will look different for parents, students, and educators alike. And if the Trump administration has its way, all schools and universities will be forced to reopen with in-person education.
Determined to open schools despite the surge in COVID-19 cases, President Trump threatens to withhold federal funds as a means to force schools and universities into on campus, in-person education. His statement in early July was issued when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had yet to release updated guidance on how to safely reopen schools. In fact, the revised guidelines weren’t released until July 23—leaving schools only weeks to prepare for what will undoubtably be a monumental challenge.
Federal funds must not be used as leverage to force schools and universities to provide in-person classes amidst the current surge of the coronavirus. Instead, federal funds should be allocated to aid colleges and universities in their recovery from the significant, financial challenges caused by the pandemic, to equip institutions with the proper tools to reduce the spread of coronavirus on their campuses, and to provide liability protection.
Greetings from your National Office team. Thanks to all of our members who stay in touch with us. Hearing how you navigate the complex issues fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, within your local communities, allows all members to benefit from your hard-earned lessons. Additionally, our collective work in educator preparation advocacy ensures that there are federal and state funds to support ALL students. AACTE maintains its strong commitment to advocacy, particularly at this time; know that we are taking a stand and advocating for legislation and initiatives that promote the safe reopening of our member institutions this fall. Please take a few minutes to watch the video above and learn more.
You can support AACTE’s advocacy work by joining our virtual 2020 Washington Week this September. Your voice matters regarding the current federal and state policies impacting colleges of education and their recovery from COVID-19. You can learn more about AACTE’s inaugural virtual conference at aacte.org.
We live in a society that is rapidly changing. The worldwide pandemic has shown us the harsh, but important, reality that divisiveness, inequality, and discrimination persist in our country. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others are stark evidence that racism still has deep and seemingly impenetrable roots in our country. This profound moment in time has brought despair to and heightened protest not only within the Black American community, but to people of all races throughout our country and the world. While addressing and rectifying these injustices requires the concerted effort of all American citizens, educators play an essential role in creating and ensuring an equitable existence for everyone.
Throughout our nation’s history, education has been pivotal in fostering citizenry. Abolitionist leaders understood the importance of a quality public education in promoting democracy. William Lloyd Garrison called for “a broader basis for government which includes all the people, with all their rights in their hands, and with an equal power to maintain their rights.” Wendell Phillips insisted that knowledge was given to impart upon others. Harriet Tubman instilled within us that “every great dream begins with a dreamer.” And Frederick Douglass wrote that “once you have learned to read, you will be forever free.”
We are indeed living in profound times. Educators face extraordinary challenges navigating not only the global health crisis, but also the racial and systemic injustices occurring within our country. AACTE and its Board of Directors are taking bold actions to augment our leading role during this time of change. Please take a few minutes to watch the video above and learn more.
Educators must remain committed to teaching and modeling social responsibility now more than ever before. Stay connected with AACTE for the latest resources, tools, and information to address the issues facing our profession today. Visit aacte.org to access these benefits and renew your AACTE membership.
On behalf of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone issued the following statement today responding to the killing of George Floyd and systemic racism:
“AACTE acknowledges an insidious threat to the foundation of American democracy—institutional and structural racism. The construct of racism in our country is rooted in the historical, systemic abuse of power, based upon white supremist ideologies, and resulting in white privilege. Racism has long been entrenched in American institutions and policies that reinforce an unjust and disparate allocation of rights and resources to white people, while disallowing them to Black and other people of color—including our institutions of learning.
AACTE is outraged over the recent videos of Amy Cooper weaponizing the police against Chris Cooper in New York City’s Central Park, George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer, and the hunting and killing of Ahmaud Aubery by men with ties to their local Georgia police department, as well as the murder of Breonna Taylor by police while sleeping in her home. The latter events represent only a few of the string of killings of Black citizens at the hands of white perpetrators and law enforcement. In each case, the victims were unarmed. In each case, the Black community was forced to mobilize, call out the racist crime, and demand justice that has yet to be realized.
AACTE continues to seek opportunities to support its members in navigating through the unprecedented educational challenges the coronavirus has caused. It is exciting to discover how AACTE members are exploring innovative pathways and solutions to the complex problems and are eager to share with the educator preparation community. Next week, AACTE and Old Dominion University will co-sponsor a 60-minute webinar featuring education faculty advising world nations on COVID-19, Wednesday, April 15 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. The webinar is open to all AACTE members.
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
During this unprecedented time, AACTE’s number one concern is you, your loved ones, your colleagues, and your institutions. We will get through this together! While we all navigate the impact of the coronavirus, AACTE is working to provide you support through its COVID-19 Resource Hub and collaborations with key stakeholders from the field. Please take a few minutes to watch the video above and learn more.
The AACTE national office team is thinking of everyone in our community during this uncertain time. While we also are experiencing the upheaval resulting from this pandemic, our primary goal is to continue to serve all of our members. To that end, AACTE is engaging in a number of efforts to support our members at this time.
To empower you to continue to access critical support and resources, AACTE is extending the membership renewal deadline to April 30, 2020. We want to ensure members remain informed as matters related to COVID-19 continue to develop.
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
AACTE has been closely monitoring information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and is deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of the faculty, staff, and students within Colleges of Education. AACTE stands ready to support the educator preparation community as we all cope with this global crisis.
We have received notifications that some universities are transitioning classes to an online platform while others have canceled all classes for the remaining semester to ensure the safety of their students. We realize that this will impact clinical practice requirements and other criteria teacher candidates must complete for graduation. This is indeed a challenging time.