July 17, 2019
Chiefs for Change Board Chair John White to Testify Before Congress on How the Federal Government Can Support Teachers and School Leaders

Chiefs for Change Board Chair and Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White will testify today at 10:15 a.m. ET before the House Committee on Education and Labor at a hearing focused on how federal policy can better support teachers and school leaders. Superintendent White will discuss Louisiana’s groundbreaking work to ensure aspiring teachers are well prepared and validated as effective before they begin a full-time job in the classroom. He will also address how reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) provides an opportunity to significantly improve teacher preparation and support in America.

“Too often our national teacher quality conversation has been focused solely on the full-time teachers, already on the job,” Superintendent White states in his prepared testimony. “We question whether they are effective or ineffective for the children they serve. But in our state, we have come to think that if a teacher is ineffective at his job after four years of preparation . . . in a college of education, funded by state and federal tax dollars, it should not be, ‘Shame on him.’ It should be, ‘Shame on us.’ We owe it to teachers and to their students to prepare them in a professional manner and to declare them effective before they take a full-time job as a classroom teacher.”

Under Superintendent White’s leadership, in 2014 the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) launched the Believe and Prepare pilot program to give aspiring teachers a full year of practice under an expert mentor and competency-based program design. LDOE steadily expanded the initiative, offering yearlong residencies to teacher candidates throughout the state, building a cadre of trained teacher mentors, and promoting effective collaboration among school systems and preparation providers. In 2017, the state codified the Believe and Prepare model into regulation, requiring all aspiring teachers in all universities to experience a full-year residency under a state-certified mentor. Superintendent White and his team continue to evaluate and refine the program, with a particular focus on implementation for rural districts.

“Louisiana has created a national model for teacher preparation,” Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee said. “John understands how important it is to have a highly effective teacher in every classroom—and that in order to become highly effective, new teachers must be able to practice their craft in a real-world environment, gain fluency in the curriculum and tools they will actually use, and receive guidance from veteran educators. His expertise will be of great value to the Committee as members consider the path forward on effective teacher preparation.”

As a bipartisan network of more than 30 state and district education chiefs who lead systems that collectively serve more than 7 million students, Chiefs for Change drafted model legislation that would, in part, convert the federal Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) program, which falls under Title II of the HEA, into a grant to states. The reimagined program would incentivize and reward innovative and effective state-level efforts to improve teacher preparation, much like the work underway in Louisiana. In his prepared testimony, Superintendent White states that the HEA has an important role to play in preparing the next generation of teachers and school leaders. While its goals are laudable, improvements are needed. TQP, for example, is “tailored to small district-provider partnerships rather than large-scale, statewide improvement efforts.” Superintendent White advocates for revisions to streamline and simplify data reporting requirements as well as funding to support comprehensive reform.

Chiefs for Change developed the proposal to reinvent TQP as part of a broader effort to have fully prepared and supported educators in all of America’s classrooms. For more information about the organization’s core beliefs, please visit this page.

About Chiefs for Change

Chiefs for Change is a nonprofit, bipartisan network of diverse state and district education chiefs dedicated to preparing all students for today’s world and tomorrow’s through deeply committed leadership. Chiefs for Change advocates for policies and practices that are making a difference