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School Leaders to Congress: Protect Principals From Trump Budget Cuts

School leadership groups are calling on Congress to protect federal spending on programs that support principals and local initiatives that recruit and retain principals to work in high-poverty districts.

One effort asks Congress to protect Title II funds, which are slated to be eliminated in President Trump's proposed budget as part of a reduction in federal education spending by $9 billion, or 13 percent. 

While the majority of Title II funds go to teacher professional development and class size reduction, districts and states can also use the money for principals and school leaders. And, under the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, states were given an opportunity to set aside portions of their Title II, Part A funds—about $2.3 billion—for principal and school leadership programs, including for mentoring and induction programs, reviewing certification and preparation programs, and revising principal evaluation systems.

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Politics K-12's Alyson Klein has an in-depth look at the proposed Title II cuts in President Trump's budget and how districts are likely to be affected if the funds are eliminated.

Advocates are also concerned about the fate of the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program (SLRSP), a federal competitive grant program that funds evidence-based local initiatives to recruit and retain principals and school leaders for high-need schools. 

The petition asks Congress to fund the SLRSP at $30 million—the amount that the Obama administration sought last year in its proposed budget. 

The signatories on the SLRSP petition include the National Association of Elementary School Principals, Teach Plus, Teach For America, the University Council for Educational Administration, National Council on Teacher Quality, and the AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation.

School leadership, the petition says, has been historically overlooked and underfunded, and doing so has been a disservice to teachers, students, and communities.

"... We all know that leadership matters," the petition read in part.  "More than a decade of research shows that well-prepared, well-supported principals have a huge influence on teacher practice and student success. School leaders account for 25 percent of a school's impact on student learning,  and an above-average principal can improve student achievement by 20 percentage points.  Moreover, like workers in any other profession, the best teachers want to work for the best bosses. Outstanding school leaders attract and retain great educators: fully 97 percent of teachers list principal quality as critical to their retention and career decisions—more than any other factor.  And school leaders transform the lowest-performing schools, where the positive effects of strong leadership on student achievement are most pronounced.  In fact, a landmark study found "virtually no documented instances of troubled schools being turned around without intervention by a powerful leader."

Photo: Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, of the Bronx Academy of Letters, talks to 8th grader Ali Ibrahim in the school's "pass room," where students who misbehave spend time in mediation talks, yoga, therapy, and other alternatives to out-of-school suspension. --Mark Abramson for Education Week
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