Committee on Education and Labor Marks Up College Affordability Act, Including Schneider Bill to Expand Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

October 30, 2019
Press Release

This week, the House Committee on Education and Labor marked up the College Affordability Act, which will reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Included within this legislation was the Teachers Are Leaders Act (HR 3108), a bipartisan bill introduced by Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) to expand professional development opportunities for teachers.


Schneider introduced the Teachers Are Leaders Act in June 2019 to expand professional development and leadership growth opportunities for teachers. U.S. Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), David Trone (D-MD), Chuck Flesichmann (R-TN), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), and Glenn Grothman (R-WI) joined Schneider to introduce this bipartisan bill. 


Under current law, the federal Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant connects local schools with nearby colleges and universities to create professional development programs for new teachers. However, there are not enough opportunities for established teachers to develop leadership and peer mentoring skills that help retain teachers and boost student achievement. The Teachers Are Leaders Act would expand TQP grants by making “teacher leader” programs focused on professional development for established teachers eligible for funding. These programs would focus on peer coaching, family and community engagement, curriculum development, and other ways to make full use of their experience as educators and leaders in their community.


“Our legislation would empower established educators to share their valuable experience as leaders and mentors for new teachers, as well as improve retention of a high-quality teaching workforce,” said Schneider. “We introduced this legislation with broad bipartisan support, and I am thrilled that it is moving ahead as part of the College Affordability Act. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to help our hard-working and dedicated teachers – and in turn, our students – succeed.”


The legislation was previously endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), the Illinois Education Association (IEA), National Education Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Third Way, the International Literacy Association, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP):


"The Illinois Federation of Teachers is a longtime provider of professional development training for educators because we recognize that it is one of the most effective ways to help them stay on the cutting edge of education research and changes in the profession,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “As a teacher myself, I know firsthand that ongoing, high-quality professional development is vital to classroom success. That’s why our union is proud to support the “Teachers Are Leaders Act” and its goal of expanding learning opportunities to help teachers continually enhance their skills so they can provide the best education possible for students.”  

“Grants like this, that foster teachers currently teaching in high-need areas as leaders, benefit our members in that they provide wonderful professional development and grow job satisfaction rates. In turn, this helps teachers stay in the profession, which also addresses the the teacher shortage,” said Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association. “But just as importantly, these grants also benefit our students because as teachers grow as leaders and benefit from well-planned professional development and rigorous training, they enhance their craft of teaching, as well. And, studies show that students perform better when they have well trained, supported and experienced teachers.”

"We are always looking at new and creative ways to provide professional development to increase teacher leadership in our schools,” said Jeff Knapp, president of the Illinois Principals Association and principal of Libertyville’s award-winning Rockland School. “This program would allow for an expansion from currently helping new teachers to getting existing teachers in the field what they need to take their expertise to another level and help our schools and student achievement continue to improve."

“Empowering teachers to lead is far more than just a nicety. As leadership roles expand, the NASSP Building Ranks framework indicates that building models of collaborative leadership becomes essential to the success of any school by retaining and developing the best talent, building leadership continuity, and advancing professional practice among teachers. We thank Representative Schneider and the cosponsors for raising the profile of teacher leadership and for their efforts to expand professional opportunities for all whose priority is to build the potential of each student,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, NASSP Executive Director.

“If we want to recruit and retain high quality teachers, we need to treat them like the professionals they are. And one of the best ways to do this is to allow teachers to grow professionally both inside and outside of the classroom. Luckily, the Teachers Are Leaders Act does just this by freeing up funds that will give school districts the ability to work directly with districts and preparation programs to provide clear leadership pathways that will empower teachers and ultimately improve student achievement. Third Way is proud to support these efforts to modernize the profession and help keep talented teachers in the classroom,” said Tamara Hiler, Deputy Director of Education at Third Way.

“Research suggests that school leadership is second only to teaching in terms of positive impact on student learning. It is critically important that we invest in developing effective high-quality school leadership to build a culture of literacy. The Teachers as Leaders Act is an ideal approach for preparing teachers for coaching and other leadership roles, including the design and delivery of enhanced literacy instruction. The International Literacy Association fully supports this measure,” said Marcie Craig Post, Executive Director, International Literacy Association.

Companion legislation of the Teachers Are Leaders Act was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Joni Ernst (R-IA).