The quality of our education system and our ability to improve outcomes for students is inextricably linked to the professional support and opportunity our teachers receive.
During the Great Recession, the President invested $60 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to save and create nearly 300,000 educator jobs. Through programs like the Teacher Incentive Fund, the administration dedicated another $2.9 billion in developing teaching talent and supporting educators in high-needs schools. The work to invest in educator and school leader develop continues under the Every Student Succeeds Act through the Teacher and School Leader program.
New teacher preparation program regulations put forth by the Department address an age-old challenge voiced by novice and veteran teachers alike – that training programs leave too many educators feeling unprepared upon entering the classroom. The regulations require preparation programs to provide greater transparency by publicly reporting factors such as where graduates are entering teaching, how long they stay in the profession, and how they perform in the classroom, to help prospective students make an informed decision before selecting a program. States are also required to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including educators and various program providers, in developing or improving state program performance reporting systems.
Beyond funding and teacher preparation, the administration made a monumental effort to bring the voices of teachers front and center on understanding how to elevate and improve the profession. In 2011, the Education Department held the first-ever international summit on the teaching profession to highlight worldwide best practices for recruiting, training and retaining top teaching talent. National summits were held in partnership with the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and Teach For America to create a multi-faceted commitment to finding more ways to better recruit and develop teachers from diverse backgrounds.
An existing Department programs, the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship, previously offered educators a residency to better understand policy-making. During the Obama administration, these programs were leveraged to bring greater school and classroom perspective into the Education Department. Residents were empowered to develop and lead Department projects and policy discussions, including a Department shadow day. Department staff visited local schools across the D.C. metro area to experience firsthand a “day-in-the-life” of a teacher or principal. The Department capitalized on the teacher residency program by creating complimentary Principals and School Counselor Fellowships.
In March 2014, the Department partnered with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to launch Teach to Lead, an initiative to convene and create collaboration opportunities among educators from diverse experiences and backgrounds. The initiative provided teachers with growth, learning and development opportunities while allowing them to maintain their work in the classroom. Through resource development and event opportunities, educators tackled timely education policies and practices to improve school culture and enhance teaching techniques that produce better student outcomes.
Together, these programs infiltrated the Department with a wealth of knowledge, on-the-ground experience and a greater student-focused perspective than ever before.