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Annual Day on the Hill

Two students and a dean visit Capitol Hill to learn about federal education policy and to advocate for policy and funding that supports educator preparation.

Glenn_Thompson_and_Others.jpgby Sara LaJeunesse (July 2011)

University Park, Pa. -- Jackie Edmondson, associate dean for undergraduate and graduate studies in the College of Education, and graduate students Elsie Olan and Jane Harstad attended the 2011 American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s (AACTE’s) Annual Day on the Hill event, which was held June 21-22.

The Day on the Hill event provides AACTE members with the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Congressional leaders to advocate for federal policy and funding that supports educator preparation.

“I always find the meetings to provide excellent, up-to-date information on federal education policy,” said Edmondson, who has attended the event each year for the past five years. “It also is an important opportunity to interact with legislators concerning teacher education policy concerns.”

Edmondson said the trip was particularly valuable for the students.

“I attended the AACTE Annual Day on the Hill because I wanted to be part of an event where conversations affecting education would take place,” said Olan, a graduate student in curriculum and instruction. “I also wanted to experience lobbying in favor of educational issues and listen to what staffers had to say.”

During their visit, the group met with several Pennsylvania senators and legislators as well as educators from Pennsylvania that share similar interests in what the future holds for educators and the educational system.

According to Edmondson, one thing the group learned about the future is that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was originally enacted in 1965 as part of President Johnson’s War on Poverty and was reauthorized most recently as No Child Left Behind, most likely will not be taken up as an issue until after the Presidential election. “Most of the legislators we met agree that No Child Left Behind has significant problems, but there is little to no movement on the reauthorization at this point,” she said.

In spite of the delays with the ESEA reauthorization, Edmondson was able to communicate to the legislators that any definition of a highly qualified teacher needs to include a supervised clinical field experience before someone is hired.

In addition to speaking about ESEA and sharing specifics about the Penn State Professional Development School with legislators, Edmonson also promoted Penn State’s involvement in the Holmes Scholar Program. AACTE recently became the official home of the Holmes Scholar Program, which provides mentorship, peer support, and professional development opportunities to doctoral students from underrepresented backgrounds pursuing careers in education.” Both Olan and Harstad, a graduate student in educational leadership, are Holmes scholars.

To learn more about the AACTE Annual Day on the Hill, go to