How Teachers Are Informing State Policy

Written by:
Written by: Paul Toner
May 9, 2019
This guest post comes from Paul Toner, senior director of national policy and partnerships at Teach Plus, former president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and an Education Commission of the States Commissioner from Massachusetts. Views expressed in guest posts are those of the author.

If you want to know how best to meet the needs of students, start by asking a teacher. Teachers know what supports and strategies students need in order to put them on a successful path in school and life.

Teach Plus seeks to help facilitate teacher-informed decision-making by connecting highly effective, solutions-oriented teacher leaders with an array of opportunities to contribute to and impact education policy and practice in their states and districts. And for 10 years, Teach Plus has been successful. Here are a few recent examples of Teach Plus teachers in action.

California: Teach Plus teachers have been working with legislators to identify state levers to support the diverse needs of 1.3 million bilingual students — specifically through state investment in the English Learner Roadmap. At the same time, Teach Plus teachers are serving on the state superintendent's Dual Language Instruction Transition team.

Colorado: Working with other organizations, Teach Plus teachers produced a report on the state’s evaluation system and helped defeat a bill that would have drastically changed the how teachers are evaluated. The governor will be creating a commission to evaluate the system, and Teach Plus teachers will be represented.

Illinois: Teach Plus teachers engaged educators, the state board of education and legislators through polling, testimony at the Illinois State Board of Education and the House Education Committee meetings, and one-on-one meetings with legislators regarding licensure requirements and their connection to the teacher shortage. In addition, Teach Plus fellows just released their recommendations for recruiting and retaining teachers of color and presented their recommendations to state education leaders.

Massachusetts: Classroom educators have been working with the department of elementary and secondary education through the CURATE Fellowship to identify and review high-quality curriculum that meets state standards and to provide resource guides for teachers to use when selecting and implementing curriculum.

Rhode Island: Teach Plus Policy Fellows wrote recommendations for student-centered learning and have been working with teachers and state and district leaders to build public interest through op-eds, podcasts and action research for a more personalized model of schooling.

Texas: Two Teach Plus Policy Fellows serve on the State Board for Educator Certification, which makes all decisions about educator licensure. In addition, Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath and other senior Texas Education Agency officials seek Teach Plus teachers’ input on issues such as teacher leadership, educator preparation, testing and accountability by including them as a part of advisory committees and bodies.

As state and district leaders move forward in developing plans that improve outcomes for teachers and students, Teach Plus is here to help inform and collaborate. Contact me to learn how Teach Plus can help in your state.

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Paul Toner

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