Senator Obama Spearheads Restoring Teacher Education Funding

CONTACT:
Jade Floyd,
amangino@aacte.org
or 202.478.4596

Washington, D.C. (October 30, 2007) Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the FY 08 Labor/Health and Human Services/Education (L/HHS/E) appropriations bill. The Teacher Quality Enhancement (TQE) grant program was recommended for elimination by President Bush and received a funding cut in both the House and the Senate bill. Currently funded at $60 million, the House bill cuts TQE funding to $40 million and the Senate bill to $28.5 million.

On behalf of teacher educators across the country Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) engaged Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA and chair of the L/HHS/E Appropriations Subcommittee) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA and ranking member of the L/HHS/E Appropriations Subcommittee) in a colloquy that recognized the important work in which schools of education endeavor to provide high-quality teachers for the K-12 classrooms. Because of the complex and expensive nature of this work, Senator Obama urged Sens. Harkin and Specter to accept the House funding level for the TQE program during the L/HHS/E conference. Senator Obama contributed significantly to the Higher Education Act reauthorization bill (H.R. 2669) that the Senate passed last summer, and he is particularly involved in revamping Title II of the HEA, which addresses higher-education-based teacher preparation programs.

AACTE continues to advocate for additional funding for TQE grants in both the House and the Senate. The
Association has published selected profiles of TQE grants and their impact on PK-12 schools in a report, Teacher Education Reform: The Impact of Federal Investments available at
http://www.aacte.org/Governmental_Relations/titleIIprofilesrprt.pdf 

The following is a statement by Dr. Sharon P. Robinson on behalf of AACTE Regarding Senator
Obama’s efforts to restore funding to TQE Grants.

“Senator Obama is a true champion for education and is committed to ensuring that our nation has a supply of high-quality teachers. By engaging in this colloquy with his colleagues in the Senate, he has garnered a
commitment from Senators Harkin and Specter to work to increase funding for the Teacher Quality
Enhancement (TQE) grants during conference. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
maintains that all teachers should successfully complete a high-quality preparation program prior to being
designated ‘highly-qualified.’ TQE grants are the key federally funded program targeted to support teacher
preparation programs – and their contribution is invaluable. Through these grants, preparation programs have significantly strengthened curriculum and clinical components while increasing the recruitment of teachers. TQE grants provide critical support for schools of education to reform programs and build the capacity necessary to place a ‘highly-qualified teacher’ in every classroom as required by the No Child Left Behind Act.”

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