Day on the Hill
Dean Michael Dantley, Associate Dean Anita Thomas, Dr. Anne Marie Ryan, program chair for Teaching and Learning, Dr. Lara Smetana of Teaching and Learning, and Dr. Marla Israel of Administration and Supervision accompanied Phil Hale, Vice President of Government Affairs for a Capitol hill visits as part of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education “Day on the Hill” activities. The first part of the trip was spent learning legislative priorities for teacher education and higher education during this session of congress. Of particular interest to us is the appropriations bill which authorizes Teacher Quality Partnership grants, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The new Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell presented an overview of issues and concerns from the Department of Education, and indicated his support of teacher education programs and equality in accountability for teacher prep programs.
The trip also included visits to Senator Mark Kirk’s and Richard Durbin’s office, and visits with staff for Congressman Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky, Brad Schneider, and Mike Quigley. The visit afforded us the opportunity to update the legislators on the new Teaching, Learning, and Leading with Schools and Communities (TLLSC) Teacher Preparation Program, our new principal preparation programs, and our community partnerships, particularly Senn High School. Standards for teacher preparation programs are now moving to field-based clinical program, and our legislators were impressed with the program and will now be able to use the SOE as a resource around teacher preparation. We also discussed our opinions on alternative certification programs, charter schools, and the importance of college readiness programs. We left the Hill feeling as if we have made good connections with our legislators and that they are more likely to further develop partnerships with the SOE.
The visits also reminded us the importance of contact with our legislators. The staff that we met with along with Representative Davis were very open to hearing our ideas and opinions and it was evident that our perspectives would be included in their legislative priorities. Each member of the SOE would be well served to connect locally with education staff in order to promote our professions and to have an influence on policy, particularly around social justice concerns and equity in education.