Luján, Gallego Spearhead Grant Program to Empower Teachers and Schools

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) introduced legislation this week to empower teachers and schools to better serve our students. The Teachers Leading, Educating, Advancing, and Designing (LEAD) Act creates a grant program that allows school districts and Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools to create teacher leadership programs that expand leadership opportunities for classroom teachers, who would also receive tangible compensation for their added responsibilities.  

The Department of Education grant program created by this legislation will:

  • Create a $400 million competitive grant program for school districts to plan for or implement teacher leadership programs;
  • Prioritize school districts that partner with Minority-Serving Institutions (including Hispanic-Serving Institutions), Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities with a track record of supporting teacher leadership or advancing teacher diversity;
  • Set aside 5% of funding for a Bureau of Indian Education Teacher Leadership Program;
  • Prioritize school districts that receive federal Impact Aid, Tribal and Native Hawaiian educational organizations, and high-need school districts; and,
  • Prioritize school districts with teacher turnover rates above the national average and school districts with plans to recruit and retain more teachers from underrepresented populations.

“It has always been a priority of mine to get our schools the resources they need to uplift students and educators. This is more important than ever given the acute teacher shortages in New Mexico,” said Luján. “By empowering public school districts to create teacher leadership programs, we will combat teacher turnover by ensuring that classroom teachers have more agency to influence school and district decisions. We all owe teachers a great debt for the tireless work they do in New Mexico and across the country, and their incredible expertise warrants additional leadership opportunities. This legislation will ensure that our local communities design programs to empower teachers and advance their career opportunities within the profession.”

“Teachers are the most important factor influencing the achievement of our students,” said Gallego. “In Arizona, we have seen a crisis of teacher retention and a shortage of educators that has stretched on for years now. This crisis particularly affects teachers of color and the communities they serve, where we have seen Black and Hispanic educators suffering from burnout and leaving the profession in droves. We can and must do more to support our teachers and, in doing so, the students that they have an immense positive impact on. I’m incredibly proud to be introducing this legislation with Senator Luján today as we work to build a better education system for underserved communities in Arizona and across the country.”

“The Teachers LEAD Act has the potential to transform education systems through the creativity and expertise of one our country’s most valuable resources: teachers,” said Alisa Cooper De Uribe, New Mexico’s 2021 Teacher of the Year. “Structuring sustainable and remunerative opportunities for educators to add their on-the-ground insight to the change-making tables is a recognition of educators’ immeasurable worth, and can help revitalize the profession through meaningful participation in the decisions that affect our students, our unique school communities, and our nation’s future. Our need for teachers is critical at this moment in time, and that need can be addressed more effectively when teachers’ perspectives and ideas are regarded as essential at every level.”

“If we honor the voice of educators and provide a space for their leadership in transforming education, we will see an immediate shift from requiring the need to recruit and retain teachers to a valued, passionate workforce for generations to come,” said Kristen Beland, Teach Plus Alum and National Policy Advisory Board Member.

“Conceived and designed by Teach Plus teacher leaders and Teach Plus, the Teachers LEAD Act is a historic piece of legislation that creates a framework for teacher leadership around the nation,” said Lindsay Sobel, Teach Plus Interim CEO. “Teach Plus is grateful to Senator Luján and Representative Gallego for leading legislation that will elevate the teaching profession and address teacher support and retention.”

This legislation is endorsed by 40 organizations, including: Teach Plus, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, National Indian Education Association, National Indian Impacted Schools Association, Hispanic Colleges and Universities Association, Associations of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, Center for American Progress, Center for Black Educator Development, Committee for Children, Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, EDGE Consulting Partners, Education Resource Strategies, Educators For Excellence, EduColor, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, ImmSchools, Latinos for Education, Leading Educators, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Learning Forward, Men of Color in Educational Leadership, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Center for Teacher Residencies, National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, National Writing Project, New Leaders, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, Parent Revolution, PDK International, Public Impact/Opportunity Culture, Teach for America, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, The Arc of the United States, The Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative, The Education Trust, The Hunt Institute, and The New Teacher Project.

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