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Polis leads bipartisan ‘Teachers Are Leaders’ bill to give teachers more opportunity to advance
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. - alongside Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind. - introduced the bipartisan Teachers Are Leaders Act today. The legislation comes during Teacher Appreciation Week and following many teacher rallies across the nation asking for higher salaries and additional resources.
Modeled after effective state programs, the bill provides teachers with more ways to advance while also staying in the classroom. Studies say teachers are leaving the classroom, at a rate of eight percent, because of lack of opportunity.
“The Teachers Are Leaders Act begins to address part of what teachers are calling for - it provides greater opportunity for them to advance while still doing what they love: teaching students in the classroom. It is an important bipartisan start to answering the rallying cry of teachers in Colorado and across the nation who only want fair wages and additional resources to effectively teach,” said Polis.
Sen. Chris Coons introduced the companion legislation in the Senate last summer.
The Teachers Are Leaders Act addresses attrition by allowing grants from the Teacher Quality Partnerships to be used to:
Create a continuum of teacher preparation and development: The Teachers Are Leaders Act recognizes that teachers continue to develop beyond their first years of teaching and should be prepared to follow differentiated career paths that foster new opportunities for professional growth, increase their voice in school decisions, and improve student achievement.
For further details on the bill, download the fact-sheet here.
The bill has received widespread praise.
"The Teachers are Leaders Act aligns with the high quality professional learning for teachers that the Public Education and Business Coalition is known for at the national level. We believe that teachers are the professionals who have the greatest impact on the future workforce of our nation,” said Tom Brinegar, chair, Public Education and Business Coalition.
It is supported by:
Polis serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce. He is the top-Democrat on the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee and a member of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee. Polis has opposed attempts by President Trump and Sec. DeVos to defund public education.
He is a co-sponsor of the Innovations to Recruit and Retain Excellent Teachers Act, which would improve compensation for teachers. He authored the Great Teaching and Leading for Great Schools Act, which would provide protected release time for teachers to engage in collaborative professional development. He also authored the Defending Special Education Students and Families Act, which would fully fund special education.
Polis is the former chair of the Colorado State Board of Education, and the founder and former superintendent of The New America School - a network of charter schools in several states serving new immigrants and English-language learners - as well as the Academy for Urban Learning for homeless and at-risk youth.