Press | Profiles of New Leaders Highlight Federal Programs

New York, NY—New Leaders urged members of Congress to prioritize school leadership as a core school improvement strategy when reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as well as through the annual appropriations process.

Too often, leadership is viewed as an afterthought rather than an indispensable ingredient in teacher, school, and district improvement. Through ESEA reauthorization and appropriations, federal lawmakers have two critical opportunities to leverage leadership as a central strategy in making all schools places where great teachers thrive and students excel.

Today, New Leaders released four Profiles in Leadership to call attention to these opportunities. Each profile brings to life the work of outstanding New Leader principals and district leaders and illustrates how federal policies and programs can accelerate the success of the students we serve.

  • Alfonso Carmona, the principal of Robert Healy Elementary School in Chicago, IL, highlights the need for federal investments in the School Leadership Program (SLP) to support cutting-edge, evidence-based strategies to improve principal effectiveness and to support principals and their teams.
  • Janeece Docal, the principal of Powell Elementary School in Washington, DC, illustrates the importance of expanding the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) and other federal programs to focus more on leaders and leadership development.
  • Leroy Gaines and Kimi Kean, the current and former principals of Acorn Woodland Elementary School in Oakland, CA, offer lessons about how the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program can better support dramatic and lasting improvement in struggling schools.
  • Michelle Pierre-Farid, the Chief Academic Officer for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, discusses the importance of using ESEA Title II-A funds at the state and local levels for principal effectiveness activities.

The profiles exemplify the urgent need to recruit, prepare, and support effective school leaders. Without such concentrated efforts, we will leave principals unprepared and unsupported in their primary job of leading great teaching at scale. And we will certainly not be able to ensure that all students have access to an outstanding education that prepares them for success in college, careers, and life.

“Principals are critical to the success of any school improvement effort—from increasing academic rigor to developing and supporting teachers to building a strong school culture,” said Jean Desravines, Chief Executive Officer of New Leaders. “Every provision that Congress will debate next week is inextricably linked to and dependent on the quality of our nation’s 90,000 principals.”

New Leaders calls on Congress to ensure that important provisions in the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 directly supporting school leadership are retained and, where appropriate, improved. These include support for aspiring and sitting principals in Title II, Part A; the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program, aimed at improving principal recruitment, preparation, and support; and the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program, which supports the development of strong human capital management systems. Key provisions related to state accountability systems must also be strengthened, including granting greater autonomy for principals in parallel with meaningful accountability as well as identifying struggling schools in need of intervention.

And New Leaders urges members of Congress to give school leaders the attention, resources, and support they need—through both reauthorization and appropriations bills—to fulfill their transformative potential.