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(April 12, 2013, Washington, D.C.) – The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) appreciates President Obama’s and the Administration’s overall increased investment in education in his FY 2014 budget proposal. However, the Association believes the proposal lacks a vision for the future of effective educator preparation programs.
The one modest federal investment that supports teacher preparation programs, the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program, is again eliminated in the FY14 budget and consolidated under a larger initiative called the Effective Teachers and Leaders State Grants.
The educator preparation profession knows that in order to effectively meet the needs of the education workforce, programs must include deep and robust partnerships between higher education and PK-12 communities; extensive clinical practice for candidates that preferably culminate in a yearlong internship or student teaching experience; and performance measures that document candidates’ readiness to teach on Day One in their classrooms. Several organizations have confirmed the importance of these components in recent reports, including the Council of Chief State School Officers, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the National Education Association.
Yet, support for these elements is missing from the Administration’s budget. The field is instead moved in a direction where seeds are haphazardly strewn about, allowing a thousand different flowers to bloom when what we need is systemic reform that ensures that every preparation program is built around these crucial components.
The budget also eliminates the TEACH Grant Program, a successful federal grant program that supports high-achieving candidates in becoming teachers of high-need subject areas in high-need schools. Over the last five years, grants have been awarded to more than 100,000 teacher candidates, who maintain at least a 3.25 GPA and go on to complete four-year service obligations with some of the nation’s most high-need students. The Administration proposes replacing the TEACH grants with the Presidential Teaching Fellows program. This would limit substantially federal support for high-quality teacher candidates and require states to develop ratings systems for preparation programs. Most states do not even have the capacity to develop such a complex system, and the ratings would be based on measures that have not proven to be valid.
In contrast to the vision set forth in the FY14 budget, two members of Congress have stepped forward to offer a comprehensive proposal to reform educator preparation. In the last Congress, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced the “Educator Preparation Reform Act,” which reauthorizes Title II of the Higher Education Act. The bill supports the profession through improving the Teacher Quality Partnership grants and strengthening accountability measures. AACTE looks forward to its reintroduction in this Congress and urges the Administration to endorse this important bill.
Improving student achievement starts by ensuring that teachers are adequately prepared to meet the needs of today’s diverse learners. It is disappointing that the Administration would be so far off the mark in acknowledging this in its budget proposal. Nevertheless, AACTE and its members will continue to advocate for an aggressive agenda that is in the best interest of our nation’s students by strengthening the capacity of educator preparation programs and advancing sound education policies.
AACTE: Serving Learners The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to the highest quality professional development of teachers and school leaders in order to enhance PK-12 student learning. The 800 institutions holding AACTE membership represent public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. AACTE’s reach and influence fuel its mission of serving learners by providing all school personnel with superior training and continuing education.