Key government issues for education involve continued funding for teacher training, says School of Education Dean Joanna Masingila in her role as president of the New York Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (NYACTE).
Masingila lobbies both Albany and Washington, D.C., with monthly phone conferences or meetings with the state education commissioner and at the annual American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s (AACTE) Washington Week in June.
“In Albany, some of the issues we are talking with legislators about are the admission requirements for master’s programs preparing candidates for initial certification,” Masingila says. The Education Transformation Act of 2015 raised admission requirements. New criteria for graduate school include minimum scores on the Graduate Record Examination and a GPA of at least 3.0 as an undergraduate.
“We agree with having well-qualified teachers, but these admission requirements are merely contributing to the current teacher shortage instead of supporting programs in having high-quality programs that prepare well-qualified teachers. We are also interested in incentives to attract candidates to teacher preparation programs and address the teacher shortage,” says Masingila, whose two-year term ends in October 2018.
Federal programs address those same issues.
AACTE supports level funding for five educator preparation programs: the Teacher Quality Partnerships (Title II, Part A of the Higher Education Act), Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program, Special Education Personnel Preparation, and the Institute of Education Sciences. Total funding is more than $2.75 billion.
AACTE also wants Congress to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, incorporating the Education Preparation Reform Act, which, Masingila says, would improve the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant program. The TQP incorporates the best of what AACTE says research and practice show to be essential for effective preparation programs: providing extensive clinical experiences for teacher candidates, preparing them to work with students with disabilities and English language learners and to teach literacy, and providing induction support in teachers’ early years.
A third issue is to fund Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants.These grants provide about $4,000 a year to support teacher candidates in both baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate programs who agree to teach high-need subjects in high-need schools for at least four years within eight years of graduation.
In Washington, Masingila met with staff members for New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand and local Representatives John Katko and Elise Stefanik, gaining their support and some co-sponsorship of AACTE’s legislative goals.