While global challenges are addressed by national governments, increasingly subnational actors such as states, communities, and cities have needed to step up to take action when traditional nation-states have been unable to make progress due to political polarization and partisan gridlocks. This trend has also characterized transatlantic relations and the German-American partnership. The German-American State Legislator Dialogue draws on this notion, focusing on the role of state representatives from the United States and Germany in addressing common transatlantic challenges.
In both Germany and the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges facing the education field. Teacher shortages, which were already apparent before the pandemic, have become an overwhelming challenge for educational systems. Extended school closures, hybrid learning arrangements, student disengagement, and mental health challenges have contributed to historic learning loss. These challenges are closely interlinked and require urgent action. What approaches have state legislators in Germany and the United States taken to support, train and retain educators? How might subnational governments identify innovative solutions to mitigate learning loss? How might effective policies on one side of the Atlantic be implemented or mirrored on the other? In this conversation with state legislators on both sides of the Atlantic, we will discuss the impact of the pandemic on education and opportunities for ensuring that all students have access to quality education in the wake of COVID-19.
Join the American Council on Germany and the Aspen Institute Germany for our next State-to-State: German-American State Legislator Dialogue for a discussion with German and American state legislators, including Senator Raumesh Akbari (D), Tennessee State Senate; Representative Edward DeLaney (D), Indiana House of Representatives; Jochen Ott (SPD), State Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia; Andreas Sturm (CDU), State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg; and Representative Steven Ultrino (D), Massachusetts General Court.
Raumesh Akbari, a proud Memphian and passionate advocate for justice and equality, serves in the Tennessee State Senate representing downtown Memphis and parts of Shelby County. Akbari, an attorney for her family’s small business, was elected to the State Senate in 2018 after serving three terms in the State House of Representatives. Currently the Senate Democratic Leader, Senator Akbari’s policy focus aims to improve student outcomes, reform outdated criminal justice rules, and expand middle-class security and opportunities to more Tennessee families while striving to represent the city of Memphis and her people with dignity and purpose.
Edward DeLaney has been a member of the Indiana House of Representatives since 2008. He currently serves as a member of the Education Committee as well as the Ways and Means Committee. He is also an alternate member of the Budget Committee and serves as the Assistant Democratic Caucus Chair. Representative DeLaney recently retired as a partner in the law firm of DeLaney and DeLaney.
Jochen Ott has been active in local politics for many years and previously served as Chairman of the Köln SPD before becoming a full-time politician as a member of the Parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia in 2010. Since then, he has focused on education policy as a member of the Education Committee. As Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of Social Democrats, he is in charge of all questions and political initiatives concerning equal opportunities in the area of education (early childcare, school, university, lifelong learning), as well as child welfare. Ott worked previously as a teacher at a school near Cologne.
Andreas Sturm has been a member of the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg, representing the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) since 2021. He serves on the Committee for Education, Science, and Art, as well as the Committee on Social Affairs. Mr. Sturm previously worked as a secondary school teacher for English and religious education.
Steven Ultrino became State Representative for the 33rd Middlesex District after being elected to the Massachusetts General Court in November of 2014. A committed educator, he currently serves as Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. He previously served on the Malden School Committee and as Ward 2 Malden City Councilor. Representative Ultrino is currently an instructor at both Salem State University and his alma mater, Suffolk University, where he teaches courses on education and communication. His previous professional experience includes working as Director of Education for the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, teaching at Malden Catholic High School, and serving as a school principal and business manager at St. Mary’s Parish in Winchester.