Students and faculty from the University of South Carolina Aiken headed to Washington to meet with legislators and learn about trends in education policy from leaders in the field, all as part of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s annual Washington Week.
“The primary goal of the trip was to collaborate with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and engage with staffs of the South Carolina representatives and senators,” said Tiffany Zorn, a USC Aiken education major.
“This experience permitted us to expound upon particular bills that aid with teacher preparation as well as [champion] the necessity to continue funding the Teach Grant and reevaluate the data gathered within the teaching profession. Without voices to be advocates, our teachers’ stories would never be heard, and no progress would ever truly be made.”
AACTE is considered “the leading voice on educator preparation,” according to its website, which also states that AACTE represents more than 800 postsecondary institutions with educator preparation programs, like USC Aiken.
AACTE’s Jerrica Thurman first met Donna Sacco in 2015. Sacco was one of three doctoral students from George Mason University (GMU) who worked as an AACTE education intern, assisting in advocating for high-quality preparation programs and with its marketing communications. Thurman was pleasantly surprised when she saw Sacco at AACTE’s 2019 Washington Week with her two Holmes doctoral students from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). It was during her AACTE internship that Sacco learned about the Holmes Program and determined to make a personal contribution to help diversify the teacher workforce by becoming a Holmes advocate. The following summary highlights an interview Thurman had with Sacco about her journey from an intern to a change agent in education.
What piqued your interest in the issues of teacher diversity as a doctoral student at George Mason University and student intern at AACTE?
Before my doctoral program, I was a special educator with a master’s degree in bilingual special education. For my entire career, my focus has been on culturally and linguistically responsive instructional practices. Part of my drive came from the stories my father told me about the obstacles he experienced in his childhood as the son of Italian immigrants. He was a brilliant man but never went to college. He had one advocate who helped mentor him in appreciating the arts but had no teachers who were advocates, role models, or who understood his background. Once I began researching teacher education, I was surprised to learn that the teaching force is composed of roughly 80% white female teachers. How had I missed that obvious point? I am a white female who was teaching mostly boys of
During Washington Week 2019, I participated in AACTE Day on the Hill and advocated for the education profession for the first time. As a recent graduate of The Citadel’s school counselor program, I was eager to learn what our government is currently doing for the field of education. I also thought about what I could bring to the discussion from different perspectives. My career in education started later than most. After serving four years in the active duty Air Force, I joined the Air Force Reserve and began my master’s in school counseling. This would allow me to share my viewpoint as an educator entering the workforce, as well as a working professional from outside the education world.
Being a new educator, the first idea I wanted to present was restructuring the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to make it easier and better fit the needs of those in the profession. Most people outside of education do not know that school counselors are required to have a master’s degree, which puts an even greater student loan burden on them. For new educators like me, informing congress that current programs are either broken or do not fit the entire education picture is important. I feel that congress may be overlooking the levels required for the different types of educator preparation.
This month, AACTE members, colleagues, and students converged on our nation’s capital and made their voices heard during AACTE’s Washington Week events. From increasing teacher diversity to a renewed respect for the profession, attendees promoted educator preparation and pushed for their representatives’ support in making education the center of American values. Please take a few minutes to watch the video above (or read the transcript) to receive an update on AACTE’s advocacy efforts on your behalf.
Rest assured, AACTE tackles policy issues not only during our annual advocacy week but also throughout the year to continually move forward our legislative agenda. Stay connected to AACTE for up-to-the-minute information on policies and legislation by visiting aacte.org.
There was so much buzz in Washington, DC during AACTE’s 2019 Washington Week this month that we had to capture it all in a video! Check out the recap video above to view AACTE members at work for teacher education during our annual advocacy event. Then, be sure to access the variety of online resources that will help let your local elected officials know that “Your Voice Matters.”
- Ed Prep Matters continues to bring you reports from the event. Read what presenters, participants, and staff learned and what related opportunities are available.
- For photos from the event, visit our Facebook album. Feel free to tag yourself and share photos on your own page and check out the Facebook Live videos!
- Look up the hashtag #AACTEWW19 on Twitter and read through several tweets about the event.
- Visit AACTE’s Advocacy Center for the latest resources on federal and state policy issues about teacher preparation.
Plan now to join AACTE next year for the 2020 Washington Week, May 31 – June 3 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, VA and on Capitol Hill.
AACTE’s Holmes Scholars were busy on Twitter advocating for education policy issues using their hashtags #HolmesScholar and #Holmes19 during Washington Week this month. The students learned how to elevate their voices and research to positively impact future policies for students of color and other marginalized groups during the Holmes Summer Policy Institute, June 3. They wasted little time in implementing these best practices throughout the week’s events particularly during their participation in AACTE’s Day on the Hill. From Facebook Live interviews to Twitter posts, the Holmes Scholars made their voices heard on why it is important for education students to play an active role in advocating for the teaching profession.
The Holmes Scholars have also turned to social media to grow their community and to stay connected year round. You can follow the AACTE Holmes Program on Facebook, on Instagram at @aacteholmesscholars, and on Twitter at @HolmesScholars, and follow the hashtags: #OnceAScholarAlwaysAScholar, #HolmesScholar, and #Holmes19.
For the first time since 1914, all but one state legislature in the U.S. is dominated by a single party. The result has been a pattern of conservative leaning legislation in Republican-held states and liberal legislation in states controlled by Democrats. This is a political dynamic that will have far-reaching consequences for education policymaking well into the future. To find more information about the types of education bills being developed and advanced around the country and how politics is playing a leading role in state policymaking, view the State of the States webinar.
Originally presented at the State Leaders Institute during the 2019 AACTE Washington Week Conference, this video and the accompanying PowerPoint presentation, helps to demystify policymaking at the state-level by focusing on the political drivers that influence policymaking.
The 2019 State of the States webinar answers questions such as: What types of education bills are advancing in Democrat and GOP dominated legislatures? What role are governors playing in the education policymaking of their states? How are political leaders in state governments working together to influence education policy? And, what are the emerging trends among states in the ed-prep arena?
With a special emphasis on how “one-party-dominated” political leadership can dictate the development and shape the progress of education bills in a state, this webinar provides both a 30,000-foot and a ground-level perspective on education legislation, and will help you to see what it takes today to pass a bill in a state with one-party rule.
AACTE’s 2019 Washington Week attendees made known their presence in the nation’s capital on Twitter using #AACTEWW19. Photos and tweets of the event’s activities were shared on social media throughout the four-day conference last week, and on June 5 the attendees took over Twitter during their advocacy visits to congressional offices.
Analytic reports reveal #AACTEWW19 received more than 650 original posts, retweets and replies, which yielded over 1 million impressions! In fact, #AACTEWW19 was recognized as trending in Washington, DC by social media monitoring services.
During AACTE’s 2019 Day on the Hill, the educator preparation community united on Capitol Hill to make their voices heard about challenging issues affecting education. AACTE members, colleagues, and students employed their advocacy skills to elevate the profession in meetings with Members of Congress and their staff. AACTE is excited to have captured attendees in real-time Facebook Live Shows and to highlight their significant work in Washington, DC.
In the video interviews, participants discuss the importance of teacher educators and students from across the nation converging on Capitol Hill to advocate for educator preparation as well as ways to impact education policy in their local areas. They also share how the advocacy training from AACTE’s Day on the Hill sessions prepared them for congressional meetings and key takeaways on best strategies to promote talking points with policymakers. All of the video participants emphasize the important message in the AACTE Washington Week event theme: “Your Voice Matters!”
It was another successful Washington Week as AACTE members, students, and partners descended on the nation’s capital to network, advocate, and augment the capacity of the profession at the table. There was something for everyone—whether they were attending Washington Week for the first time or were a perennial attendee.
Three signature events comprise AACTE’s Washington Week: the State Leaders Institute (June 2-3), the Holmes Doctoral Scholar Summer Policy Institute (June 3), and Day on the Hill (June 4-5). Kim Metcalf, chair of the AACTE Board of Directors, and Michael Maher, chair of the AACTE Advisory Council of State Chapters, kicked off the week of events opening the State Leaders Institute (SLI).
Focusing on building the capacity of the state chapter and its leadership, SLI attendees learned about the impact of their state’s political dynamics on the development and advancement of education policy. Diving into the challenges of chapter leadership, SLI sessions included the development of sustainable leadership pipelines and the recruitment and retention of chapter membership. Conversations and sessions covered ideas and practices on a host of important issues of interest to AACTE members, including how to attract more teachers to the profession, how to use social media to augment the presence and voice of the chapter and its membership, and how to employ the power of grants to meet state and regional chapter goals.