PAC-TE's History

Origins of PAC-TE

As prepared by Past-President Terry W. Blue, Elizabethtown College, 2001

(For an in-depth look at PAC-TE's history, please see this document)



In 1930, the Pennsylvania Association of Liberal Arts Colleges for the Advancement of Teaching (PALACAT) was founded. That information is brought to you courtesy of the stationery of the association during its heyday. Another record I have shows that PALACAT held its 53rd annual meeting in 1975. That would set its date of origin to 1923. Perhaps the 1923 date refers to a parent organization. In any event, it was a long-standing professional organization that had managed to stay healthy over an extended period of time, attracting virtually all of the private and liberal arts institutions of the Commonwealth that had teacher education programs.

I don’t have as much information about the origins of the AACTE and ATE affiliates in Pennsylvania. I have discovered that the Pennsylvania Association of Teacher Educators (PATE) held its 23rd annual meeting in 1975. If that means what I think, it would date back to at least 1952. In 1975, the former state affiliate of AACTE, the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (PACTE), was enjoying its 4th annual meeting in Pennsylvania. Its date of birth, therefore, probably was somewhere around 1972.

I mention all of this to put what happened in Pennsylvania twenty years ago into perspective. All three associations had strong roots and a dedicated following. Some teacher educators in the state were members of all three associations. Others limited their time and attention to one of the groups. Perhaps, more accurately they concentrated on one association because they had such limited time. 

Joint Meetings and Other Partners

PALACAT, PATE, and PACTE had learned that it made sense to work together. Along with our friends at the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers (PaFT), and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), they planned a joint annual meeting each year in the fall. Each association had its own business meeting during the conference, although none of the three business meetings could be scheduled concurrently because of the overlap in membership. Each teacher education group had its own slate of officers, Board of Directors, budget, agenda, and so forth. As an example, let me use my own experience. Almost twenty-five years ago, I served a term as the president of PALACAT. Within the next three years after that, I was on the PATE Board of Directors and was the President-elect of the original PACTE.

Since many of us realized that we had much more in common than we had as differences, we began to push for a closer relationship among the three groups. The first step toward that occurred in 1978-79 when the Confederation of Pennsylvania Associations for Teacher Education (CPATE) was formed. Its main purpose was to plan the state’s annual teacher education conference, the Teacher Education Assembly, cooperatively. It started doing so in 1979, beginning with an additional statewide meeting in the spring. At subsequent meetings, a joint CPATE session was held, but so were separate meetings for each of the three teacher Education groups (PACTE, PATE, and PALACAT). An Executive Committee composed of the Presidents, President-elects, and past-Presidents from each group was created with the presidency of CPATE rotating among the three associations. The Executive Committee began the process of getting the groups to work together.

In October of 1979, a formal constitution for CPATE was proposed. In fact, I wrote the first draft of it as the CPATE President for 1979-80. It was adopted in April of 1980. Madison Brewer, who was the President of CPATE in 1980, later became the first CPATE Executive Secretary in 1981. In April of 1980, the Pennsylvania State Education Association and Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers joined the Confederation.

Early Leaders

As mentioned above, the CPATE Executive Committee in 1980-81 consisted of the Presidents, Past-Presidents, and Presidents-elect of PACTE, PATE, and PALACAT, along with representatives from PSEA and PaFT. The group at this time included some names you may recognize. From PACTE came Bill Benedetti, Madison Brewer, Fred Bryan (the PACTE Executive Secretary), and me. PATE provided Bob Neuhard, John Hicks, and Bob Wright. PALACAT’s representatives were Sr. Mary Lalande, Bob Leight, and Sr. Marie Immaculee Dana.

One of the first tasks the newly reorganized CPATE considered was taking a serious step toward a major change. A subcommittee of the three association Presidents began to develop by-laws for an even stronger alliance. On May 8, 1981, the Executive Committee approved and then sent the following resolutions by way of its representatives to each of the founding associations for approval:

PAC-TE Founding Resolution

Be it resolved:

That in order to strengthen the voice of teacher education in the Commonwealth, to coordinate the professional activity of current teacher education associations, and to provide unified leadership for teacher educators in colleges, universities, and the basic schools, the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (PACTE) [or the Pennsylvania Association of Teacher Educators (PATE), or Pennsylvania Association of Liberal Arts Colleges for the Advancement of Teaching (PALACAT)] join in the formation of a new organization to be called the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators (PAC-TE) by temporarily suspending its activity as a separate organization, accepting the resignations of its current leadership, transferring its membership to PAC-TE, and directing its treasurer to arrange for the transfer of all funds to PAC-TE.

That no later than May 1986, the membership of PACTE/PATE/PALACAT evaluate the extent to which the organization has met its purpose and function.

The resolutions were approved by PALACAT, PATE, and PACTE memberships. A planning committee composed of representatives from each parent association was formed to serve as an executive committee to conduct the business of PAC-TE until officers and Directors were elected and installed in October of 1981. A constitution was drafted and subsequently was approved by the new officers, Board of Directors, and membership. Among the leaders of PAC-TE as Presidents during its first two decades have been Bill Benedetti, John Hicks, Mary Dupuis, Betty Ford, and John Butzow. Four persons have served as the Executive Secretary of PAC-TE. They are Madison Brewer, Fred Bryan, Bill Benedetti, and Jim Flynn.

PAC-TE Early Goals 

Among the early goals of PAC-TE were: 

  • To strengthen the voice of teacher educators of the Commonwealth
  • To coordinate and improve the effectiveness of the professional activity of teacher educators
  • To provide unified leadership for teacher education in colleges, universities, and the basic schools
  • To eliminate duplication of efforts
  • To improve the efficiency of human and material services
  • To continue state affiliations with national teacher education organizations by providing both institutional and individual membership categories.

These continue to be important to the association today.

PAC-TE has been in existence, then, since 1981. Members of the parent organizations were sad to see the separate associations dissolve, especially PALACAT because of its long history and common interest. They took this chance, though, and very few are sorry that they did. Strong ties with ATE were maintained all along. Equally strong connections eventually were re-established with AACTE after some difficult initial years. The PALACAT perspective has been protected through special interest meetings, etc. We know that this has turned out to be a wonderful improvement for Pennsylvania. We think it would be equally beneficial for other states as well.

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