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Educators Have the Power to Effect Change

The race to reauthorize No Child Left Behind is getting tight. Last Friday, President Obama announced he will offer waivers to the current federal law for states that pledge to "raise the bar" on education. Earlier this month, members of Congress in both the House and Senate introduced several pieces of legislation designed to shrink the federal role in education. Despite all of the jockeying for the frontrunner position and the usual gamesmanship, it is educators themselves who continue to have the biggest opportunity to win the race for students.

But to win the race, educators can't wait for the President or Congress to act. They must instead maintain their focus on improving teacher and student success through effective professional learning. Professional learning is the high-yield strategy that the produces the biggest and longest lasting results for students.

Effective professional learning that adheres to the Standards for Professional Learning produces real changes in educator knowledge, skills, and dispositions; changes in teaching; and most importantly, positive changes in student achievement. Don't wait for mandates coming from politicians. Rather, improve teaching by empowering teachers and leaders to collaborate and solve the authentic problems of practice they face in their classrooms. Nothing in federal law is stopping states, districts, and schools from engaging teachers in effective professional learning. We must act now. The path to educator effectiveness and higher results for all students is built from the bricks of effective professional learning.

M. René Islas
Director, Learning Forward Center for Results

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