Petri, Polis Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Teacher and Principal Preparation

May 23, 2013 Issues: Education

Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Representatives Tom Petri (R-WI) and Jared Polis (D-CO), both members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage states to establish teacher and principal training academies.

The bill, known as the Growing Education Achievement Training Academies for Teachers and Principals Act, or GREAT Teachers and Principals Act, would give states competitive grant funds to grow teacher and principal training academies that utilize innovative training methods to produce effective educators.

These academies would be selective in their admissions processes and emphasize hands-on preparation by pairing their candidates with successful teachers or principals in the classroom.  They would also be required to produce a certain number of effective graduates in order to maintain their authority to operate.  Academies would be free from much of the red tape currently imposed on schools of education, which has demonstrated little connection to student achievement.

“Being a teacher is one of the most important jobs in the country,” said Petri, a senior member of the Education and Workforce Committee.  “And it’s not an easy one.  Yet, many teachers still report being unprepared for their work in the classroom.

“Studies continue to show that effective teaching is directly linked to student success, so it’s absolutely vital that teachers receive the best training possible.  With increased flexibility programs can be innovative in the way they prepare future educators to be successful in the classroom—which will in turn produce more successful students.”

“Our teachers strive to be the best teachers they can be,” said Polis.  “They deserve the opportunity to learn and improve their craft through a high-quality preparation experience and professional development.  The GREAT Act will help create new and more effective ways for helping teachers and principals succeed.  Giving teachers the hands-on experience they need to excel is a critical part of helping our students reach the highest levels of achievement.”

According to a leading study, 61 percent of education school alumni reported that schools of education at four-year colleges did not adequately prepare their graduates for the classroom.  Principals reported that only 30 percent of schools prepare teachers very well or moderately well to meet the needs of students with disabilities and only 16 percent for students with limited English proficiency.  Most discouraging is that nearly half of new teachers leave the profession in the first five years.

Congressman Petri successfully worked with the House Education and the Workforce Committee last year to include similar reforms in the Committee-passed version of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) reauthorization.  A bipartisan group of senators led by Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have introduced the GREAT Teachers and Principals Act in the Senate, and similar provisions were also included in the Senate Committee’s NCLB reauthorization in the 112th Congress.  Though, neither committee bill was considered by the full House or Senate in the 112th Congress.