Little Rock, Arkansas, February 21, 2023—Teach Plus today issued the following statement on the release of Governor Sanders’ LEARNS Act.
“Teach Plus Arkansas and Teach Plus teacher leaders commend Governor Sanders’ commitment to high-quality education for all students and raising teacher salaries in order to recruit and retain the best and brightest educators for Arkansas’s children.
“We are encouraged by Gov. Sanders’ plans to expand access to early childhood education, improve literacy for struggling students, move Arkansas to the top five in the nation for beginning teacher salary, and offer much-needed benefits and opportunities for teachers such as paid maternity leave and training on crisis response and mental health awareness,” said Stacey McAdoo, Executive Director of Teach Plus Arkansas and the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.
The LEARNS Act includes many priorities of Teach Plus Arkansas Policy Fellows, all classroom teachers, who have advocated for an investment in early childhood education, and improved compensation, benefits, and professional development for educators to improve retention.
“As Arkansas continues its journey to improve education for all students, we encourage policymakers to collaborate with current educators to ensure policies are responsive to the daily challenges in the diversity of schools and classrooms we serve across the state,” said Teach Plus Arkansas Senior Policy Fellow Perla Andrade who teaches in Little Rock. “Classroom teachers are in the trenches. We understand the support needed on a daily basis and want to ensure the best decisions are made to meet the needs of all our students, families, communities, and staff.”
“As our legislators deliberate the LEARNS Act and focus on its implementation, Teach Plus Policy Fellows look forward to working with policymakers on helping to shape and design the policies and initiatives that will make the vision of high-quality education a reality for every student in Arkansas,” said Ms. McAdoo.
The following quotes can be attributed to Teach Plus Arkansas Policy Fellows regarding specific education-related priorities. They represent the individual Fellow’s position.
Early Childhood Education
“As a teacher of 3 to 5 year olds, I have an insider’s view of the positive impact that high-quality early childhood education program has on my students and am hopeful that all 3 to 5 year olds across the state have access to such learning. High-quality early childhood education programs provide a vital foundation for future school success, with benefits that last throughout adulthood.” —Cara Maxwell, PreK teacher, Springdale
“With the LEARNS Act, we’ll have a better opportunity to tap into the potential that already exists in our own classrooms and recruit new teachers for our students. We need to compensate highly trained, highly skilled veteran teachers as the professional experts they are by providing them with opportunities to lead from the classroom. As evidenced in our report, Investing In What We Value, we believe that Arkansas should invest in teacher leaders, allowing them to create solutions to the challenges we face.” —Holly Howard, 11th Grade English Teacher, Bentonville
“With upwards of 33% of new teachers leaving the profession within the first three years, I am excited to see how the LEARNS Act will support new teachers so that they are day-one ready to meet the realities and demands of Arkansas’ students.” —Brandie Loomis, K-4 Math/Science Facilitator, Bentonville
Student Mental Health
“As a classroom practitioner, I have witnessed first-hand my students’ mental health struggles. One of the recommendations in our brief, Strategically Addressing Student Mental Health in Our Schools, is relevant mental health training for educators. We are pleased to see Crisis Response and Mental Health Awareness Training as part of the LEARNS Act and hope to work with policymakers to develop policies around our other recommendations.” —Kendria Jones, 8th Grade ELA/AP Honors instructor, Pine Bluff
About the Teach Plus Arkansas Policy Fellowship
The Teach Plus Arkansas Policy Fellowship is a highly selective leadership opportunity for outstanding Arkansas educators to deepen their knowledge of education policy and gain a voice in decisions that affect their students and the teaching profession. Over the course of the fellowship, these talented teacher leaders are trained in policy and advocacy to develop the skills to champion innovative policy solutions for Arkansas’ students.
Teach Plus Arkansas Policy Fellows are interested in speaking with the media about the LEARNS bill and the topics they are working on as part of their fellowship which include:
- Early Childhood Education
- Educator Retention
- Teacher Preparation
- Student Mental Health
To speak with the teachers, please reach out to Anya Grottel-Brown; 917.902.5902; firstname.lastname@example.org