Calls for Teacher-Informed Solutions To Advance Equity and Innovation in K-12 Education
Washington, DC ―Teach Plus today released a federal policy agenda that sets forth teacher-informed, research-driven policy priorities that will advance equity, opportunity, and innovation in our education system during the Biden-Harris Administration. The Teach Plus federal policy agenda delivers on Teach Plus’s vision for student opportunity and aligns with the organization’s equity focus areas, including:
- School Finance Equity
- Teacher Preparation, Development, and Leadership
- Recruitment and Retention of a Diverse Workforce
- Whole Child, Student-Centered Learning
- Rigorous Curricula, High Standards, and Meaningful Accountability
- High Quality Early Childhood Education
“We applaud President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris for making education a top priority and for their vision to bring together educators, school and district leaders, and states to work toward recovery, educational equity, and progress,” said Teach Plus President and CEO Roberto Rodríguez. “Over the course of the pandemic, teachers have been the front-line responders and change agents when it came to the needs of their students and communities. We must act urgently to provide the necessary resources, support, and blueprint for change that will ensure the success and wellbeing of teachers and learners across the country.”
In the agenda, Teach Plus and Teach Plus teachers call on the incoming Administration and Congress to stabilize education funding in order to prevent budget and staffing cuts across districts and states and minimize educational harm for the nation’s millions of K-12 students, while accelerating recovery and learning progress. The six-pronged agenda leverages Teach Plus teachers’ research, knowledge of what is needed and what works for their students, and advocacy at the district and state level to put forth specific recommendations and solutions.
Among the highest priorities in responding to the COVID pandemic is the federal stimulus package currently before Congress, including $175 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund, maintenance of effort and equity requirements, and $50 billion to support early learning and child care. Teach Plus also supports a tripling of Title I funding, advancing digital equity, and closing funding gaps for low-income students and students of color; investing in the recruitment and retention of a diverse educator workforce; and increasing Title II funds in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Higher Education Act (HEA) to improve teacher preparation and mentoring and elevate teacher leadership.
Over the long term, Teach Plus urges greater investments in the preparation, development, support, and success of the nation’s learners, as well as greater opportunities to recognize the ideas and expertise of excellent and experienced teachers in policy formation and development. “We must prioritize opportunities for the voices, ideas, and solutions of our educators to shape the next agenda for change in our education system, not from the top down but from the bottom up. We should provide opportunities for teachers to bridge policy and practice, and exercise their leadership at every level in our education system,” said Mr. Rodríguez.
Among the equity imperatives in our education system is the need for the federal government to invest in digital equity. Many Teach Plus teachers work in areas where the lack of connectivity is causing significant learning gaps for their students. “The digital divide is keeping thousands of our students across Mississippi from continuing their education during the pandemic,” said Teach Plus teacher leader Alexandra Melnick, who teaches high school English in the Mississippi Delta. “It is unacceptable that poverty has prevented our students from attending school fully this year. We need significant funding to provide our students with a consistent and high-quality education.”
The Recruitment and Retention of a Diverse Workforce imperatives include incentives for states to close the gap in recruitment and retention between white teachers and teachers of color. Teach Plus teachers know firsthand that for students of color, representation matters. “For a Black male student like myself in the inner city, the experiences of having teachers of color were formative,” said Teach Plus teacher leader Victor Idowu, a high school math teacher in Chicago Public Schools. “We can increase the number of teachers of color by evaluating and improving upon our current recruitment practices and by advocating for more legislation that reduces barriers to gaining a teacher license.”
Other imperatives for Teach Plus and Teach Plus teachers include improving teacher induction, mentoring, and support during teachers’ early years in the classroom; creating college and career pathways fund to expand the educator pipeline; converting funding for school police officers to investments in personnel to meet the mental health needs of students; and investing in expansion of access to high quality early childhood education including preschool for all and quality early learning and child care programs.
About Teach Plus
The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has developed thousands of teacher leaders across the country to exercise their leadership in shaping education policy and improving teaching and learning, to create an education system driven by access and excellence for all. teachplus.org