Secretary Duncan: Iowa leads in teacher leadership
CEDAR RAPIDS – Iowa’s efforts to transform learning in schools by giving teachers more leadership opportunities received state and national attention Tuesday with a visit to Cedar Rapids from the nation’s top education official, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
During a stop at Cedar Rapids’ Roosevelt Middle School, Duncan heard about Iowa’s work to develop the nation’s most comprehensive teacher leadership system, known as Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation System (TLC).
Duncan, who was in Iowa as part of his annual back-to-school bus tour, sat in on a teacher coaching session and participated in a panel discussion at Roosevelt Middle School with local and state education leaders, including Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise.
“You are literally at the forefront” in teacher leadership, Duncan told panelists. “There’s no state providing this kind of leadership at this point.”
TLC, the centerpiece of an education reform package adopted by legislators and signed by Gov. Branstad in 2013, taps into the expertise of teachers to improve classroom instruction and raise student achievement. The system rewards effective teachers with leadership opportunities, attracts promising teachers with competitive starting salaries and support, and fosters greater collaboration for all teachers to learn from each other.
TLC “has empowered teachers and principals to work together in new and creative ways,” said Wise, who managed the development and delivery of TLC as a deputy director at the Department. “I hear over and over again how energizing these opportunities have been for them.”
TLC is rooted in collaboration and partnership and was that way from the beginning, when a state task force’s recommendations in 2012 formed the basis of the successful legislative proposal. After a year of planning, school districts began applying for funding to implement TLC plans locally. The first TLC districts wrapped up their initial year last spring.
Cedar Rapids is one of 116 Iowa school districts at varying levels of the TLC system so far. Educators have reported appreciation for the greater opportunities and support, better collaboration, and changes that will lead to better learning environments for both teachers and students.
“There’s amazing power in the capacity that we’ve built as far as improving instructional practice,” said Roosevelt Middle School Principal Autumn Pino, who was on Tuesday’s panel.
Darius Ballard, an instructional design strategist at Jefferson High School, said TLC focuses teachers and administrators alike on making “the right decisions.”
Tammy Wawro, a Cedar Rapids educator who is president of the Iowa State Education Association, said TLC allows school districts to tailor leadership roles to meet their individual needs, rather than using a one-size-fits-all model.
“Your district has to do certain things – all the important things have to be there – but then you can make it your own,” Wawro said.
The Department’s goal is to have all 336 school districts participate in TLC by the 2016-17 school year. School districts have until Oct. 16 to apply for a final round of TLC funding. For more information, visit our TLC webpage.