The Center for American Progress has previously argued that Congress should reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, this year to improve important components of the law and further education reform efforts in states and districts throughout the country. Until the reauthorization is complete, however, the Obama administration would be wise to use the appropriations process to advance its reform agenda. A key part of that agenda is strong initiatives to increase students’ access to great teachers and leaders.
President Barack Obama appears to get the message. His recently released 2012 budget request maintains a substantial investment in building a strong educator workforce. This investment is crucial to school reform efforts throughout the country since effective teachers and principals are the foundation of successful schools.
A growing body of evidence shows that teachers are essential to improving students’ learning but that teachers vary tremendously in their effectiveness. In other words, which teachers are directing students’ learning matters a lot. And principals are critical in leading strong schools and recruiting, developing, and keeping good teachers in them.
The administration’s budget emphasizes competitive grant programs that support innovative strategies for improving teacher and leader effectiveness. It consolidates smaller programs so they yield a greater impact. These moves will make the best use of federal investment in teachers and leaders.
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