Politicians want and need to hear from you

Faye Snodgress is executive director at Kappa Delta Pi.

2014 Day on the Hill Sen Warren's officeLast week, 10 KDP members joined AACTE for its annual Day on the Hill. From members of the Texas State University chapter acknowledging their appreciation of Pell Grants to introducing Congressional staffers to education for sustainability, the experience was a huge success.

Our AACTE colleagues provided guidelines and suggestions related to pending legislation, information about appropriate etiquette when calling on elected officials, and more, all bundled with words of encouragement and appreciation.

Congressional staffers, including the new Under Secretary of Education, Ted Mitchell, who addressed the entire AACTE/KDP group, were interested in hearing our thoughts and reactions to current bills and proposed regulations.

Our discussions focused on the following legislative issues:  encouraging continued funding for Title II of the Higher Education Act, particularly the Teacher Quality Partnership grants; support for a bill currently in the HELP committee that addresses induction and mentoring and embedded professional development; and the consideration of integrating education for sustainability.

The Department of Education is expected to release new Teacher Preparation Regulations in July, which is a time when many people are traveling or out of the office. Those in attendance asked Under Secretary Mitchell to consider a 60-day comment period to ensure that all stakeholders have an opportunity to provide feedback on the regulations.

As we look to the start of a new academic year, the Public Policy Committee and State Delegates will be working together to help KDP members get more engaged in policy discussions at both the state and federal level.

Politicians want and need to hear from you. A key message from members of Congress that we all need to remember is “if there is a void in input on education policy, it will be filled by someone” – and that ‘someone’ needs to be members of the KDP community. We must make sure that our voices are heard on what’s best for educators and the students we serve.

Look for upcoming messages and resources from the Public Policy Committee about how you can be involved and share your thoughts!

If we aren’t at the table, we’re on the menu

Faye Snodgress is executive director of Kappa Delta Pi.

Teaching is a political activity but we don’t always do a good job of participating in the political aspects of education.

I’m grateful to our colleagues at AACTE for providing KDP members with the opportunity to participate in its Day on the Hill, which takes place June 11-12. I, along with many other KDP members, will learn more about the ways in which we can speak out about our core values and most importantly, who needs to hear our voice.

In the words of Katherine Bassett, Executive Director of the Network of National Teachers of the Year and a valued colleague, “If we aren’t at the table for education policy discussions, we are on the menu.”

In addition to the important efforts of our Public Policy Committee and  other committed KDP members who are involved in advocacy, participating in the Day on the Hill is another way that we are working  to be sure that we are “at the table” and not the entrée.

As a community of educators who use evidence-based strategies and practices, we have much to offer legislators about what works in education and how we want schools to be.

I hope you’ll stay tuned in the weeks to come for updates from our experience!