This week, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law a “minibus” appropriations bill that includes funding for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Departments for fiscal year 2019.
New Leaders is pleased that funding remains intact for the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants program (Title II, Part A), the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program, the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program, and the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program (TSL)—all of which can be used to support a variety of school leadership investments.
At the same time, we are dismayed that the spending bill provides no funding for the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program (SLRSP)—the only federal program specifically focused on investing in evidence-based, locally-driven strategies to strengthen school leadership in high-need schools.
Our schools—especially those serving the most vulnerable children and communities—are struggling to attract and, crucially, retain outstanding educators. The deleterious effects of teacher churn on student learning and other outcomes are well-documented, and we know this problem is most acute in low-income communities.
We also know that there is a real solution to this challenge: strong school leaders.
Outstanding principals deliver breakthrough students achievement gains in large part through their work supporting teachers. These leaders focus on making teaching an energizing, sustainable career choice by creating school environments that foster teacher collaboration, professional development, and shared leadership. In these schools, teachers and students, alike, grow, thrive, and reach their full potential. Not surprising, research finds that the best principals retain the most effective teachers at higher rates—and, together, these educators accelerate student achievement.
Proven leadership development programs can help transform struggling schools and address persistent staffing challenges facing high-need schools, as New Leaders and other grantees of the federal school leadership program have demonstrated.
As deliberations begin regarding FY 2020 funding, we urge Congress to restore support for SLRSP at $14.5 million to seed innovative, evidence-based school leadership programs and partnerships that promise a return for students, teachers, and schools that far exceeds this targeted investment.