This article is a personal reflection of the 2021 Washington Week Holmes Policy Institute by attendee Kamilah Bywaters.
AACTE’s Holmes Policy Institute was literally “a breath of fresh air.” The gathering was a reminder of the extraordinary leaders within our nation who are dedicated and committed to forward thinking ideas that are good for all of humanity. I was more than thrilled to hear from Jessica Cardichon, assistant secretary in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development with the U.S. Department of Education. Her specific role that day was to inform Holmes Scholars of the initiatives and goals of the Biden Administration. To top it off, Nick Lee, the deputy assistant secretary for higher education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development with the U.S. Department of Education, provided valuable information on one of the objectives to ensure that higher education is equity focused and affordable to underserved and underrepresented communities. I am filled with hope to know that many of our nation’s leaders listen to the communities they serve and strive to implement policy that provides access and does good in the world.
Connect with peers from across the nation during the virtual AACTE 2021 Washington Week
. Themed Your Voice Matters
, the conference unites AACTE’s collective efforts to advance education policy and funding to support programs at your local institutions. Hear what past attendees had to say about the value of Washington Week events in these testimonial videos:
Christine Carrino Gorowara, Ph.D.
Past president of the Delaware Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
University of Delaware
As we enter September, we are just weeks away from AACTE’s Day on the Hill, the Association’s premiere advocacy event. Participation in the event is critical to helping advance AACTE’s legislative priorities and highlighting the importance of teacher preparation programs. If you have not participated in Day on the Hill, or if you need a refresher, you may be wondering what attendees will be advocating for during their meetings with Members of Congress and congressional staffers. The AACTE team has posted a variety of Washington Week resources on the to help guide participants.
In many cases, you will be familiar with the issues: the importance of TEACH Grants, which are critical to helping students enter the teaching profession while helping to address shortages in hard-to-staff fields and schools; Teacher Quality Partnerships (TQP), which helps strengthen the teacher pipeline; and a variety of other bills that will help make sure our nation’s classrooms are staffed with profession-ready, diverse group of educators.
While it is helpful to review these materials ahead of Day on the Hill sessions, please know that we will discuss the political landscape and AACTE’s legislative priorities before meeting with members of congress to help you become more comfortable with advocacy. And there will be several other panels to help you understand why advocacy is important and how you can have successful meetings.
If you haven’t already, I hope you will plan to join us for our Day on the Hill. To register, please visit AACTE’s website.
Beth Kubitskey, ACSR Midwest Region representative and president of the Michigan Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, recently shared her experience as a State Leaders Institute attendee and what she’s looking forward to at this year’s virtual event during Washington Week.
Why do you believe it is important for AACTE members to actively advocate for education?
One of the reasons I think it is vital for AACTE members to advocate for education is because we are the experts. Still, often we are so busy doing the work that we do, we have to remind ourselves that we need to be proactive, not reactive. Often by the time we finally receive word on a bill, law, or state policy, it has already moved through many processes.
And so, we are not aware of those kinds of things before they get to far down the road, and we lose our opportunity to have an impact. There are multiple examples of where we are more likely to succeed if we can get that information early and be proactive.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll participate in my first Day on the Hill as a member of the AACTE Committee on Government Relations and Advocacy. I am really excited by the opportunity and want to invite you to participate. Like many AACTE members, I have worked with city and state elected officials, policymakers, and representatives from state agencies. But speaking with members of Congress and their staffs offers an opportunity for even greater engagement.
As leaders in education, AACTE members all know that we must be outward facing, managing our colleges while we tell our story to many stakeholders. That story is what enticed most of us to get in this line of work in the first place. We all advocate for our needs and interests all the time, and although our interests may not be identical, they are often closely related regardless of our institutions. Some of us push for greater equity in teacher preparation programs. We want to diversify the teacher pipeline and the resultant teacher workforce, knowing how vital representation along the lines of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and sexual identity is to students across the country.
Are you following highlights of the AACTE 2021 Washington Week on Facebook and Twitter at #AACTEWW21? In addition to blog posts and testimonial videos, AACTE recently released a Washington Week infographic on social media. Check it out below!
Brian P. Yusko, president of the Ohio Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, provides insight into the impact the State Leaders Institute has on state leaders and affiliate members in the Q&A article.
Why do you believe it is important for AACTE members to actively advocate for education?
In our current political climate, educational policy is highly contested, with strong advocates for multiple competing goals of schooling. Many lawmakers feel comfortable proposing changes in P-12 educational policy without necessarily understanding all the implications for teacher preparation. If teacher educators are not at the table, policymakers are liable to make decisions that run counter to what we know about quality teacher education.
AACTE’s annual Day on the Hill, the association’s premiere advocacy event, is scheduled for September 21-23. It is a unique opportunity to engage with your Members of Congress about the critical work you do. But some may wonder, “What do I get out of participating?”
First and foremost, you can explain to policymakers the importance of the teaching profession and why it is important to invest in teacher preparation programs to help address the teacher shortage and diversify the profession. Even before the pandemic, the teacher shortage was a critical issue for our nation. Studies and news reports indicate that COVID will make the problem more acute. Fortunately, President Biden has proposed historic funding increases for programs AACTE has long supported, like the Teacher Quality Partnerships, and doubling of the TEACH Grants, which are critical to training student to teach in high needs schools or fields. Your voice is critical to helping this legislation pass.
Hear from outstanding speakers regarding advancing educational equity and policy and promoting culturally sustaining practices in education:
AACTE is excited to announce Congressman Mondaire Jones will participate in its 2021 Washington Week virtual conference Holmes Program. Representative Jones serves on the House Committee on Education and Labor. He is a champion of public education and understands that a quality education leads to intergenerational mobility.
About Rep. Mondaire Jones
Congressman Jones is serving his first term as the Congressman from New York’s 17th District, encompassing all of Rockland County and parts of central and northern Westchester County.
A product of East Ramapo public schools, Rep. Jones was raised in Section 8 housing and on food stamps in the Village of Spring Valley by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to provide for their family.
The nation’s newspapers, websites, and blogs are filled with discussions about what policies Congress should address next. Currently, it seems like all eyes are on Afghanistan; yesterday was all about investing in the nation’s infrastructure; tomorrow the discussion may be on President Biden’s American Families Plan. The president’s proposal calls for historic investments in our nation’s youth, families, and economic future, including a call to invest $9 billion in teacher preparation programs. But it is unclear whether Congress will support the proposal, let alone the $9 billion in long-overdue investments in teacher preparation.
As chair of the AACTE Board of Directors, I invite you to attend AACTE’s second virtual Washington Week, taking place throughout September. Your participation, and your voice, are critical in supporting programs, advocating for funds, and advancing policies our institutions need to move the profession forward.
Watch the video to learn more about the virtual conference. Register now and invite your colleagues and students to participate in AACTE’s 2021 Washington Week. View the event schedule and details at www.aacte.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and join the conversation using #AACTEWW21.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact AACTE’s Events Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to seeing you at AACTE’s virtual event next month!
Robert E. Floden
Dean Emeritus and University Distinguished Professor, College of Education, Michigan State University
Board Chair, AACTE
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In a recent Q&A with AACTE, Christine Carrino Gorowara, past president of the Delaware Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, shares her perspective as a frequent attendee of the Washington Week State Leaders Institute.
Why do you believe it is important for AACTE members to actively advocate for education? Why do you recommend AACTE members attend the State Leaders Institute?
AACTE members have specialized knowledge about education issues and provide an invaluable perspective to lawmakers. Additionally, part of our role in preparing educators is doing what we can to create an environment where educators can thrive, including ensuring funding, promoting culturally responsive policies, and expanding opportunity. The State Leaders Institute helps us hone our knowledge of issues relevant to educator preparation and how those issues are connected to pending legislation and develop the skills needed to advocate effectively.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s State Leaders Institute?
As informative as the speakers always are, I most look forward to the opportunity to learn from other state chapters. I love learning about what kinds of events they hold, what resources and services they provide their members, how they work with partner organizations, and their innovative ideas for moving the profession forward.
Join AACTE at this year’s virtual State Leaders Institute, September 30 – October 1, as we address current trends impacting the profession. Hear from AACTE leaders and experts on effective ways to advocate for policies and funding within your state. Interactive sessions will cover topics such as:
- Working with Coalitions to Do Advocacy Work
- ARPA State Funding Initiatives
- Consortium for Research-Based and Equitable Assessments
- State Affiliates Access to AACTE’s Connect360
Day on the Hill is AACTE’s signature event for involving its members in direct advocacy for the profession. I have attended Day on the Hill for 20 years. Why do I enjoy it and keep coming back? The answer has to do with involvement, camaraderie, and results.
Day on the Hill allows us as teacher education leaders to be involved with a national effort much bigger than ourselves and our own institutions. Our unified presence in congressional offices for one day every year makes us part of something special that has the potential to make a difference for our teacher candidates, our programs, and our communities. It is also a great way to involve our education candidates in the work. Each year, I select several undergraduate or graduate students to join my colleagues and me at Day on the Hill. Helping them learn about advocacy and being exposed to others in the profession opens them to a whole new side of the profession they are entering.