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Republican and Democratic Senators Push Bill to Support Teacher Leaders

A bipartisan group of senators today introduced a bill aimed at giving teachers more opportunities to take on leadership roles without having to leave the classroom. 

The Teachers Are Leaders Act, sponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), would allow existing teacher-quality grants under the Higher Education Act to be used for creating teacher leadership development programs. High-need schools and colleges of education would partner to come up with innovative roles for teachers who want to advance their careers without leaving the classroom completely. Those roles might include peer coaching, curriculum writing, working on school discipline and culture, or engaging with families and communities.

Under the bill, the funds would also support professional development for teacher leaders.

"The Teachers Are Leaders Act recognizes that teachers continue to develop beyond their first years of teaching and should be prepared to follow differentiated career paths that foster new opportunities for professional growth, increase their voice in school decisions, and improve student achievement," the bill summary states. 

A host or education organizations support the bill, including the Alliance for Excellence in Education, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Education Association, and Teach Plus. (These organizations, it's worth noting, aren't all natural bedfellows.)

The bill may, in some ways, serve as a reproach to at least part of President Trump's proposed budget. That plan would eliminate $2.3 billion in Title II funding, which goes mainly toward teacher professional development. 


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