March 18, 2022

Gallego, Senator Ben Ray Luján Introduce Bill to Address Teacher Retention, Recruitment and Shortage Crisis

Teachers Leading, Educating, Advancing, and Designing (Teachers LEAD) Act directs the Secretary of Education to award grants for teacher leadership programs

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced a bill to establish a competitive grant program through the Department of Education (ED) that would provide professional leadership and development opportunities for educators. Local education agencies, educational service agencies and Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools could apply to the grant program to create teacher leadership programs tailored to their local needs. 

“Teachers are the most important factor influencing the achievement of our students,” said. Rep. Gallego. “In Arizona, we have seen a crisis of teacher retention and a shortage of educators that has stretched on for years now. This crisis particularly affects teachers of color and the communities they serve, where we have seen Black and Hispanic educators suffering from burnout and leaving the profession in droves. We can and must do more to support our teachers and, in doing so, the students that they have an immensely positive impact on. I’m incredibly proud to be introducing this legislation with Senator Luján today as we work to build a better education system for underserved communities in Arizona and across the country.”

“It has always been a priority of mine to get our schools the resources they need to uplift students,” said Luján. “By empowering local education agencies to create teacher leadership programs, we will ensure that our schools provide education that is tailored to our students’ needs. We all owe teachers a great debt for the tireless work they do in New Mexico and across the country. This legislation will ensure that our local communities craft the programs designed to empower teachers.”

The grant program established by the Teachers LEAD Act will: 

  • Create a sustainable program plan that leverages classroom teachers as teacher leaders who will participate in shared decision-making with school and district officials, support teacher participants, and impact student success; 
  • Provide opportunities for teacher leaders to take on instructional leadership and mentorship skills and program development; 
  • Encourage collaborative, evidence-based, sustained professional peer-to-peer learning;
  • Provide teacher leaders time away from the classroom and tangible compensation for their added responsibilities; and
  • Report on the impact of the teacher leadership program on teacher retention and student outcomes 

"Teachers are the experts of their classrooms and they belong in every decision-making conversation that impacts the space they share with students,” said Sara Wyffels, 2021 Arizona Teacher of the Year. “The TEACHERS Lead Act honors teachers as the professionals they are and elevates the profession by creating opportunities for teacher to step into leadership." 

The Teachers LEAD Act ensures that the Department of Education prioritizes grants for eligible entities that have high teacher turnover, high poverty rates, receive Impact Aid, are Tribes and Native Hawaiian educational organizations, have plans to intentionally serve teachers from historically underrepresented backgrounds, or have partnerships with entities that have a successful track record of promoting teacher leadership, including non-profits, public and private non-profit institutions of higher education and minority-serving institutions.

"If we honor the voice of educators and provide a space for their leadership in transforming education, we will see an immediate shift from requiring the need to recruit and retain teachers to a valued, passionate workforce for generations to come,” said Kristen Beland, Teach Plus Alum and National Policy Advisory Board Member.

This legislation is endorsed by 40 organizations, including: Teach Plus, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, National Indian Education Association, Associations of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, Center for American Progress, Center for Black Educator Development, Committee for Children, EDGE Consulting Partners, Education Resource Strategies, Educators For Excellence, EduColor, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, ImmSchools, Latinos for Education, Leading Educators, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Learning Forward, Men of Color in Educational Leadership, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Center for Teacher Residencies, National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, National Writing Project, New Leaders, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, Parent Revolution, PDK International, Public Impact/Opportunity Culture, Teach for America, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, The Arc of the United States, The Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative, The Education Trust, The Hunt Institute, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the Committee for Children (CFC), Hispanic Colleges and Universities Association, and The New Teacher Project.

Full text of the bill can be found here.