U.S. Sen. Luján & Reps. Gallego, Hayes Introduce Grant Program To Empower Teacher Leaders

May 11, 2023 | Los Alamos Daily Post

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ruben Gallego (AZ-03) and Jahana Hayes (CT-05) introduced legislation this week to empower teachers and schools to better serve students.

The Teachers Leading, Educating, Advancing, and Designing (Teachers LEAD) Act establishes a grant program through the Department of Education to help districts provide educators with additional leadership and professional development opportunities.

The grant program established by the Teachers LEAD Act will: 

  • Provide financial support to districts that create a sustainable program plan that leverages classroom teachers as teacher leaders who will participate in shared decision-making with school and district officials, support and develop other teachers, and address students’ social, emotional, and academic needs;
  • Provide compensation for teacher leaders to take on instructional leadership, mentorship opportunities and program development;
  • Encourage collaborative, evidence-based, sustained professional peer-to-peer learning driven by teacher leaders;
  • Provide teacher leaders time away from the classroom and tangible compensation for their added responsibilities; and
  • Report on the impact of the teacher leadership models on teacher retention and student outcomes in participating districts.

“Teachers understand what children need to thrive socially, emotionally and academically, and it’s time we reimagine ways to expand this expertise beyond the traditional lesson plan,” Sen. Luján said.“I’m proud to introduce this legislation, a first of its kind investment to build out greater leadership opportunities for teachers in their schools, districts and communities. The Teachers LEAD Act will support the development of teacher leadership programs, which are shown to increase teacher retention. By providing opportunities for teachers to work hand-in-hand with administrators and community leaders to improve student outcomes, this legislation will help more teachers stay in the classroom while maximizing their impact on students.”

“Teachers need more than just an appreciation day or week – they need tangible resources that help them succeed,” Rep. Gallego said. “As Arizona deals with its seventh consecutive year of a teacher shortage, I’m proud to introduce this bill which invests in leadership, mentorship, and shared decision-making opportunities with the aim of empowering teachers and reducing burnout.”

“Being a teacher is a profession. It is one that not only requires a degree, but consistent training and professional development. At a time when schools are facing rampant vacancies, it is imperative schools work with teachers to find solutions and build capacity,” Rep. Hayes. “Through leadership opportunities and peer to peer learning, we give teachers and their students the tools needed to succeed. This Teacher Appreciation Week, I join Rep. Gallego and Sen. Luján in recognizing these dedicated public servants by ensuring current and future educators are supported today, tomorrow, and beyond.”

“The Teachers Lead Act, rooted in the work of Teach Plus teacher leaders and Teach Plus, elevates the expertise and voices of America’s most extraordinary educators to create systems change and benefit students and communities,” Teach Plus CEO Kira Orange Jones said. “Sen. Luján and Rep. Gallego have helped create a framework that will leverage the expertise of teachers to address teacher retention and improve learning conditions for children.”

“The Teachers LEAD Act, created by teachers for teachers, recognizes educators as the experts in their field, whose voice and leadership transform the lives of students who deserve the consistency and the retention of a passionate and powerful teacher workforce,” Kristen Beland said, Teach Plus National Policy Advisory Board Member.

“Teachers’ potential for improving educational outcomes goes beyond the classroom, and the Teachers LEAD Act can build opportunities for experienced teachers to positively impact everything from professional development to solutions-oriented system changes. This bill would work to address our nation’s need for growing the number of excellent teachers serving our students and communities of learners—now and into the future,” Alisa Cooper De Uribe said, New Mexico’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.

The Teachers LEAD Act ensures that the Department of Education prioritizes grants for eligible entities that have high teacher turnover, high poverty rates, receive Impact Aid, are Tribes and Native Hawaiian educational organizations, have plans to intentionally serve teachers from historically underrepresented backgrounds, or have partnerships with entities that have a successful track record of promoting teacher leadership, including non-profits, public and private non-profit institutions of higher education and minority-serving institutions.

This legislation is endorsed by 40 organizations, including:

Teach Plus, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, National Indian Education Association, Associations of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, Center for American Progress, Center for Black Educator Development, Committee for Children, EDGE Consulting Partners, Education Resource Strategies, Educators For Excellence, EduColor, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, ImmSchools, Latinos for Education, Leading Educators, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Learning Forward, Men of Color in Educational Leadership, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Center for Teacher Residencies, National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, National Writing Project, New Leaders, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, Parent Revolution, PDK International, Public Impact/Opportunity Culture, Teach for America, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, The Arc of the United States, The Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative, The Education Trust, The Hunt Institute, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the Committee for Children (CFC), Hispanic Colleges and Universities Association, and The New Teacher Project.

Full text of the bill is available here.

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