This week, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. The spending proposal includes funding for programs that can be used to support effective school leader programs and initiatives.
We are pleased that funding levels are maintained for the Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants Program (Title II, Part A)—which was zeroed out in proposals put forth by the Administration—as well as the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program and the Teacher and School Leader (TSL) incentive grants program. We are also happy that funding for the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program has been increased.
At the same time, we are deeply disappointed to learn that the proposal includes 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.
Redesigned under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), SLRSP is structured to seed promising school leader development programs and to help expand those proven to make a difference for students from low-income backgrounds, advancing innovation by amplifying successful, equity-driven state and local leadership initiatives.
Further, by building an evidence base regarding what works in school leader development, SLRSP greatly expands the impact of the federal government’s targeted education investments. When states, districts, and schools invest dollars in evidence-based strategies—from improving schools under Title I to providing educators with high-quality professional development under Title II—they will be relying on an evidence base built, in part, by federal investments in school leadership.
Without SLRSP, the communities most in need of strong, consistent leadership lose out on millions of dollars each year that could be the difference between an educational experience that supports students’ academic, personal, and professional aspirations and one that fails to provide them with the resources and opportunities to help them thrive.
This critical source of funding provides crucial information to the education sector that help all of us work smarter—to do more with less for the children and communities in need by targeting resources to evidence-based school leadership strategies, promising a return for students, schools, and communities that far exceeds the initial investment.
As the FY2019 appropriations process moves forward, we will continue to urge Congress to reinstate funding for SLRSP and to foster a growing coalition of supporters to advocate for a focus on school leadership at the federal, state, and local levels. And we will work tirelessly to push for strong school leadership funding in FY2020 and beyond to support state and local efforts to leverage effective, equitable leadership to transform schools, support teachers, and advance student learning and achievement.