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Investing in Great Teachers and Leaders

Congressional appropriators should fund the Teachers and Leader Pathways program as proposed in the administration’s budget even if ESEA reauthorization is not completed.

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The Obama administration even takes a reform-minded approach with the largest formula grant program aimed at improving teacher quality. States that take their pot of the ESEANCLB Title II state grants will have to work with districts to build more robust teacher evaluation systems—which are sorely lacking across all states—in the administration’s proposal to reauthorize ESEA.

The president’s proposal also considers ways to make effective federal investments in teachers and leaders. The FY 2011 request calls for a $950 million Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund that would award competitive grants to states and districts that are willing to consider fresh, new approaches to recruiting and retaining effective teachers and principals. The Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund mirrors the promising Teacher Incentive Fund, or TIF program, which encourages school systems to experiment with performance pay systems. Should ESEA not be reauthorized this year, the four-year-old TIF appropriation line should be increased for FY 2011 and directed to adopt this revised program proposal.

A new $405 million Teachers and Leader Pathways program proposed in the president’s budget would also encourage schools and districts to consider innovative  ways to bring new talent into the classroom. Successful teacher and leader nonprofit recruitment programs, such as Teach for America, as well as district-led alternative certification programs would have an unprecedented opportunity to help strengthen the teacher workforce. The program would also encourage innovative pathways for recruiting and preparing school principals.

Congressional appropriators should fund the Teachers and Leader Pathways program as proposed in the administration’s budget even if ESEA reauthorization is not completed, so schools can bring in this much-needed talent beginning with the next school year.

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