Dear Colleague,

My name is Zach VanHouten and I am the Manager for Programs & Advocacy at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). I work with Deborah Koolbeck, who directs AACTE’s government relations work. I am reaching out on Deb’s behalf because there is concern that the TEACH grant funding will be threatened in various ways in the coming months.

As the new Congress unfolded, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted its rules package for the 115th Congress. One of the rules is that each committee must find mandatory programs (meaning the funding for the program is mandatory – must be paid each year – and the TEACH grants are a mandatory program) and transition them to discretionary programs (meaning that Congress can – or cannot – appropriate money to fund the programs). Discretionary funds are dropping each year, as our nation’s budgets get tighter and tighter. Many discretionary programs will have their funding cut to meet caps set in law. We are concerned about the funding for education programs overall, but focus more time and energy on those programs that directly support educator preparation.

It is vital that we make the case to each Member of Congress, but especially to those on key committees, of the critical importance of the TEACH grants and ensuring that they stay a mandatory program.

We need your help in doing this! Deb is on the Hill each week advocating for programs and policies that support educator preparation, but it is important to have vignettes to share from back home. Short vignette’s highlighting the impact of the TEACH grants on the candidate’s program and success make it personal. Even more important is when constituents like you reach out. Moving forward we will work with you to do personal outreach to your elected officials on this important program. Right now, we need vignettes from you on your students highlighting the great work of your program.

I addition, AACTE participates in a coalition which produces a Budget Response book delivered to congressional offices covering each education program funded by federal dollars, including the TEACH grants. A new vignette is included annually in the Budget Response book, and your vignette might be selected for this year’s book.

These vignettes provide powerful narratives of how federal dollars improve the communities through which they flow and how it increases access for teacher candidates to the profession.

To give you a sense of what we are looking for I have included the language from last year’s Budget Response (PDF):

“I became passionate about teaching when I realized I could help and encourage young people to build a strong future for themselves. I want to become an educator so I can advocate for students and help them find their voice and confidence–especially those students whose voices have gone unheard and feel as though they been pushed away. The TEACH grant helps me reduce my student loan debt and reduces the number of hours I need to work each month. With that free time I can meet with mentor to learn more about being an effective educator and gaining experience in the classroom. I love having the time to work with students at different grade levels. It helps me see all that is possible as a teacher and I know I would not be able to do this without financial assistance. The TEACH grant has reduced my financial stress and allowed me to focus on what is most important as I prepare to become a teacher.”

If you use TEACH grants for recruitment or to address critical needs or shortages, please try to include this in your vignette from a student. To simply the submission process, we have developed an online form allowing you to submit multiple vignettes for consideration. We need these as soon as possible as the committees are starting to organize and begin their work.

Thank you for your time, energy and attention to this request and in support of this important federal program. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me or Deb (cc’d).

With Regard,

Zach VanHouten | Manager for Programs & Advocacy
AACTE | 1307 New York Ave, NW | Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20005

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RE/FYI: TEACH grant funding from AACTE