U.S. Representative Jared Polis

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Polis leads bipartisan ‘Teachers Are Leaders’ bill to give teachers more opportunity to advance

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Washington, May 10, 2018 | comments

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 Teacher Leader Development Programs: The locally-designed programs would create innovative teacher leader roles that directly address demonstrated school needs. In such roles, teacher leaders would carry out leadership activities such as peer coaching, addressing school climate and discipline needs, or developing new dual enrollment courses.
  • Improve teacher retention and student achievement: Teacher leader roles have been shown to improve recruitment and retention, as well as double the percentage of teachers who would choose to work in a low-performing school.

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:

  • Alliance for Excellence in Education
  • American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)
  • Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
  • Educators 4 Excellence
  • International Literacy Association (ILA)
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)
  • National Education Association (NEA)
  • National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET)
  • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
  • National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
  • National Writing Project (NWP)
  • New Leaders
  • Public Education & Business Coalition
  • Teach Plus
  • Third Way

About Polis:

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.


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