This article is a personal reflection of the 2020 Washington Week State Leaders Institute by attendee John Blackwell.
As academics who value valid evidence and scientifically proven knowledge, we know that, concerning human beings, there is only one race—the human race. We have lived our entire lives knowing that race is one of the most divisive topics you could ever introduce in any conversation or classroom. Robin DiAngelo, in her book, ‘White Fragility’: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, explains so clearly the idea of race was created, “as an evolving social idea that was created to legitimize racial inequality and protect white advantage.” Despite this knowledge, the term racism has been weaponized to condemn anyone who uses it. When having discussion about racism, it is difficult for one to see beyond their emotion to get to the actual facts.
This article is a personal reflection of the 2020 Washington Week State Leaders Institute by attendee Tariq Akmal.
I was fortunate to attend the State Leaders Institute breakout session on State Government Advocacy with Three State Chapters. Attendees heard from Christine Carrino Gorowara of Delaware, Scott Hewitt of Florida, and Vanessa Anton and Robin Fuxa of Oklahoma. This session was a sharing of the different types of advocacy activities that were occurring in three states. The variation in state size/population was very evident in the scale of activities of each chapter. What did they hold in common? They are all active in advocacy work and are experiencing a teacher shortage in their states. Each panelist shared particular aspects of their association’s work with their state department of education, legislators, and other stakeholders within their states.
The Delaware Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (DACTE) had “flipped the script” on the traditional Day On the Hill approach and now brought specific Delaware legislators to their association for conversations regarding how DACTE could be a resource to legislators on educational issues and to build relationships so that DACTE would be invited to legislative initiatives on education. They invited members of the House and Senate Education Committee, in particular, which seems to be a highly effective strategy! Carrino Gorowara noted how they became collaborators in developing legislation that would be a help to Delaware teacher candidates in simplifying the background check process.
Last month, during the AACTE State Leadership Institute (SLI), I attended the session on the newly formed State Chapter Taskforce, which was moderated by AACTE President and CEO Lynn Gangone, AACTE president and CEO; Ann Larson, chair, AACTE Board of Directors; and Kate LaBoll-Lavoie, chair, Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR) and AACTE Board member. State Chapters, a network of AACTE member institutions that are organized collectively to advocate for and to address educator preparation issues in their state, helps provide direction to AACTE. This very important taskforce was formed to:
- Review the existing policy on the relationship between AACTE and the state chapters, the practices and experience of peer associations, and advice of legal counsel
- Consider the desired relationship between AACTE and state chapters. How do AACTE and the state chapters want to see the relationship evolve?
- Recommend revisions to state chapter policy to the AACTE Board of Directors
- Provide recommendations to the Board and National Office staff on how AACTE could best collaborate with the chapters, particularly with regard to state policy advocacy
At the 2020 State Leaders Institute, AACTE’s director of marketing and communications, Jerrica Thurman, shared some excellent “how-to,” exemplars, and resources that helped attendees understand How Educators Can Partner with Broadcasters to Keep Communities Informed. From the very basic level of helping us understand how each type of media outlet is organized and what drives each of their interests in news we might have to share, all the way to the very specific steps educators can take to sharpen our skills as subject matter experts, Thurman offered a session that all attendees valued.
The basics began with an eye-opening update about where most Americans get their news, revealing that local television, radio, and daily newspapers are still in the lead. In fact, Americans increased their average of watching local news from 4 hours to 5 hours per week over the last 15 years (RTDNA/Hofstra Surveys). Over the last 10 years, Pew Research surveys have also shown that the percentage of Americans who listen to radio (terrestrial or streaming) has increased from 25% to more than 50% over the last 10 years. Thurman laid this as the groundwork for educators to see that our potential audiences are seeking out more information sources during the same time period.
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!
Last week, scholars of color convened for the AACTE Holmes Policy Institute, a three-day training under this year’s theme, “Moving towards Equity through Advocacy and Policy.” The virtual conference, the first of the AACTE 2020 Washington Week events, offered students the opportunity to connect with peers, build their networks and engage in lively discussions on current trends. The advocacy and policy training focused on how the intersection of policy, education, and research can affect positive change for students of color.
Day 1 kicked off with AACTE Dean in Residence Leslie Fenwick leading a session on civil rights in education and AACTE consultant Jane West presenting a policy briefing. Day 2 centered on presentations by guest speakers—faculty, national organization professionals, and congressional staffers—who covered topics such as efforts to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and community-based participatory research to achieve social justice. The final day of training began with social reform advocates Jael Kerandi and Amanda Wilkerson, and moderator Ann Charity Hudley sharing their experiences and guidance on how scholars of color can mobilize for change.
AACTE delivered its first virtual Day on the Hill advocacy event this past week. Over two days, attendees met with Congressional staff, AACTE Committee on Government Relations members, and panelists to develop their advocacy toolkit. This week, the attendees will host two days of Congressional visits with the senators and representatives from their states. AACTE state teams will be advocating for the AACTE 2020 Legislative Priorities, which describe the needs of educator preparation as we address twin pandemics: COVID-19 and racial injustice.
In preparation for their virtual Congressional Visits, attendees practiced how to communicate the priorities to legislative leaders, were briefed on current data related to educator shortages, the important to increase funding toward TEACH grants and Teacher Quality Partnership Grants within educator preparation programs, and the value of funding the Institute for Education Sciences, which is the principal research agency for education in the United States.
In addition, attendees received resources to support their learning. Each of these resources is available to all AACTE members!
Only one week is left to register for the 2020 State Leaders Institute, September 22-23! Register by 12:00 midnight on Friday, September 18 to experience AACTE’s inaugural, virtual event for state leaders.
During this signature event, centered around promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in education, state leaders will focus on capacity building and augmenting their chapter’s impact through leadership development. Attendees will learn effective skills to engage with their governor’s office, strengthen the advocacy capacity of their state chapter and its membership, and enjoy networking opportunities with peers.
Here’s what attendees from past events had to say about the value of the State Leaders Institute:
AACTE’s Washington Week virtual conference is quickly approaching. This year’s event will feature the Holmes Advanced Policy Short Course, Holmes Policy Institute, AACTE’s Day on the Hill, and the State Leader’s Institute.
Joining the Holmes Policy Institute this year is Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor. Congressman Scott will deliver the closing keynote address at this year’s Holmes Policy Institute on Thursday, September 10.
Throughout his 14 terms representing Virginia’s third congressional district, Congressman Scott has been a champion on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. He has advanced policies to address the equity gaps in education, employment, and healthcare. In 1993, Chairman Scott became the first African American elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Virginia since Reconstruction and only the second African American elected to Congress in the history of Virginia. Congressman Scott continues to break barriers and create opportunities for future generations of African American and minority leaders.
Following his keynote remarks, the Congressman will engage in an interactive discussion with the Holmes Scholars about the state of public education, educator preparation, and the importance of diversifying the educator workforce.
To learn more about the AACTE Holmes Program, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s virtual AACTE State Leaders Institute will take place September 22-23, and will bring together state chapter leaders from AACTE and the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) to enhance the presence of educator preparation at the state level. During this AACTE signature event, state leaders will focus on capacity building and augmenting their chapter’s impact through leadership development. Attendees will learn effective skills to engage with their governor’s office, receive the latest tips to strengthen the advocacy capacity of their state chapter and its membership, and enjoy networking opportunities with peers.
The AACTE 2020 Washington Week will feature two virtual Holmes Program events: the Holmes Advanced Policy Course, September 2-3, and the Holmes Policy Institute, September 8-10.
Holmes Advanced Policy Course: September 2-3
The Holmes Program Advanced Policy Course will engage Holmes Scholars in “Moving Towards Equity Through Advocacy and Policy,” the theme of this year’s event. Participants in the Course will explore policy and advocacy principles and address current events that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in education. The sessions include a deep dive into the 4 P’s of Policy and Advocacy, led by Jane West, AACTE Consultant for Government Relations, and will conclude with an engaging Q&A forum. Scholars will also hear from congressional staffers from Capitol Hill, who will address current issues and trends in education that align with DEI policies and practices.
At Day on the Hill, AACTE’s premiere advocacy event during Washington Week, education leaders and students from around the country convene to advocate for teacher preparation. With the recent impact of the coronavirus and other societal trends on education, congressional leaders need to hear and learn about your successful strategies to advance the profession and ways to best address the challenges you face at your institution. Join the AACTE community for this year’s virtual event offered over a two-week period, and take advantage of the opportunity to build your advocacy skills and toolkit. Advocacy training sessions will take place September 9-10, and virtual congressional visits will be held September 15-16.
Day on the Hill: September 9-10
The first week of Day on the Hill offers attendees two tracks to choose from for part of the day that support differing advocacy skill levels. During these lively breakout sessions, you will develop and augment your skills, and learn from peers, colleagues, and government relations professionals. You will also learn about key legislations impacting education today and how to advocate for the profession with congressional leaders in a virtual environment. Congressional staff will provide special presentations on how policy is shaped and effective ways to advocate during AACTE’s virtual Hill visits that will take place the second week.
Virtual Congressional Visits: September 15-16
During the second week of Day on the Hill, attendees will join colleagues within their local state for virtual meetings with congressional leaders. Participants will be prepared with talking points, strategies to hold a congressional meeting, and key messages about how COVID-19 has impacted educator preparation programs to present to legislators. You will hear riveting greetings from invited guest politicians who will encourage your efforts in advocating for meaningful and equitable education policies.
Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues, learn of national trends in education, share or discover best practices on common challenges, or develop your advocacy skills! Register now for AACTE’s Day on the Hill.
Visit aacte.org for more details about the AACTE 2020 Washington Week.
Take advantage of discounted rates for the virtual AACTE 2020 Washington Week! Join AACTE’s efforts to advocate for the funding and support colleges of education need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your voice matters now more than ever, and this year’s reduced rates allow your colleagues and students to participate in the political action as well.
Here’s what past attendees had to say about the value Washington Week offers:
“I’m excited that it’s time for Washington Week again! Last year was my first experience, and I loved every minute of it. [Activities included] learning the ins and outs of how to advocate, practicing advocacy skills, and visiting the House of Representatives [as well as] discussing mental health initiatives in schools, teacher shortages, and low wages for educators. It’s an awesome experience, one that I’ll never forget. Get excited for a great time you won’t regret!” − Danna Demezier, Florida Atlantic University
“In the past, I have attended three Washington Weeks. It was amazing! I had the opportunity to share my concerns as a former educator, teacher educator, and a constituent. Nothing compares to running around Washington with Deans and meeting staffers or legislators in Congress.” − Azaria Cunningham, Penn State University
“I attended the State Leaders Institute my first year as state chapter president. The networking and valuable information obtained from experts changed the way we did business in our state chapter. Our state chapter has grown because of SLI. It is the best professional development opportunity for state chapter leaders. It should not be missed.” − Mary Murray, Bowling Green State University
This year’s Capital Hill visits during Washington Week will feature AACTE’s DEI Handbook, which will include your strategies to elevate diversity, equity, and inclusion within your institutions.
What might those strategies look like? We are glad you asked! While DEI may be a broad concept, we are most interested in learning about how you are supporting the recruitment and retention of students and faculty of color on your campus. We also want to know how you are supporting your faculty and staff to become culturally competent in their teaching, research, and in their community engagement.
Why should you submit your strategies? You are shaping the field! Your practices matter to your colleagues, to your peer institutions, and importantly to your Congressional leaders:
- AACTE members want to learn from you.
- Your peers want to develop their own strategies and build off of your models.
- Your Congressional leaders need the evidence of your strategies to advocate for increased funding.
Registration is now open for AACTE’s virtual 2020 Washington Week! Connect with peers from across the country for the premier national advocacy event for educator preparation. Take advantage of the reduced event rates and encourage your colleagues and students to join policy leaders in impacting our profession.
Registration rates are as follows:
|Holmes Advanced Policy Course: September 2-3
|Holmes Policy Institute: September 8-10
|Day on the Hill: September 9-10 and 15-16
|State Leaders Institute: September 22-23
Register for AACTE’s Washington Week today! Learn more about the affordable rates and other event details at www.aacte.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and join the conversation using #AACTEWW20.
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