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Teach Plus Pennsylvania Launches Inaugural Teacher Policy Advisory Board

October 5, 2020

HARRISBURG, PA — Teach Plus, a national nonprofit that empowers teachers to lead improvements in education policy and instructional practice, has launched teacher-led policy work in Pennsylvania with its inaugural statewide Teacher Policy Advisory Board. The goal of the  Advisory Board is to demonstrate the impact of teacher leadership on the Pennsylvania education policy landscape and set the stage for a full-fledged Teach Plus Policy Fellowship in 2021-22. Over the course of the 2020-21 school year, the 11 highly effective teachers on the Advisory Board will be trained in policy and advocacy specially designed to help them develop the skills to advocate for changes for Pennsylvania students.
 
“As Pennsylvania’s students and teachers confront increasing inequities due to the quadruple threat of COVID-19, long-term school closures, economic recession, and racial injustice, teacher voice has never been more vital. In addition to focusing on policy issues such as equitable education funding and recruitment and retention of teachers of color, our Advisory Board will also inform the policy decisions being made in response to COVID-19,” said Teach Plus Pennsylvania Executive Director Laura Boyce.
 
“I believe that policy is what can drive the force for change within our schools,” said Aaron Taylor, who teaches music at East Middle School 6-8 in Erie School District and is an incoming Advisory Board member. “I am excited to be part of this change and to be on the front lines making sure policymakers hear teachers’ voices.” 
 
The Pennsylvania Advisory Board will work to ensure equitable funding of Pennsylvania school districts, advocating for new state or federal funds to be distributed using the state’s fair funding formula and against cuts to education in the midst of a state budget shortfall. The teachers will also focus on improving recruitment and retention of teachers of color, working to support the state’s Aspiring to Educate pilot program and advance legislation that removes barriers to teachers of color entering and remaining in the classroom. 
 
"In my 25 years in public education, I have seen how inequitable funding affects my students’ educational outcomes,” said Holly Meade, a special education teacher at Northeast Intermediate School in Scranton School District. “I am thrilled to be involved with Teach Plus, so that we can advocate for policy change and help my students in Scranton get the education they deserve.”
 
The teachers on the Advisory Board  were selected for their effectiveness, commitment to equity, and pursuit of excellence and innovation in their teaching. The new Advisory Board members hail from a variety of locations across the state including Philadelphia, Scranton, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Erie, and Pittsburgh. Their teaching experience ranges from 2 to 27 years and they teach across all subjects and grade levels. They include Pennsylvania State Teacher of the Year finalists, National Board Certified teachers, and union and school board presidents.
 
The 2020-21 Pennsylvania Teacher Policy Advisory Board members are:
Melanie Abney, Hamilton Elementary, School District of Lancaster
Jamal Easley, Belmont Charter High School, Belmont Charter School (Philadelphia)
Mike Faccinetto, Central Elementary, Allentown School District
Michelle Gainer, Bayard Taylor Elementary, School District of Philadelphia
Jessica Keys, West Allegheny Senior High School, West Allegheny School District
Derek Long, Pittsburgh Perry High School, Pittsburgh Public Schools
Holly Meade, Northeast Intermediate School, Scranton School District
Sunada Roberts, John Harris High School, Harrisburg School District
Aaron Taylor, East Middle School 6 - 8, Erie School District
Selenia Tello, Stewart Middle School, Norristown Area School District
Beth Yoder, Pottstown High School, Pottstown School District
 
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 trained thousands of teacher leaders across the country who are driving policy changes and improving the instructional practices of teachers to create an education system driven by equity, access, and excellence for all students. teachplus.org