To Fight Trump’s Cuts to Professional Learning, Groups Plan ‘Day of Action’

By Liana Loewus — June 13, 2017 2 min read
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With Title II money on the chopping block under President Trump’s desired budget, national education groups are coming together to make a case for why teachers and administrators need those professional development funds.

Tomorrow, June 14, teachers and administrators are being asked to call, tweet, and write to their senators and representatives as part of a national Title II “day of action.” Organizations, including the American Federation of School Administrators, ASCD, Learning Forward, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, are leading the charge.

“Our goal is to reach out to as many educators as possible and have them reach back to their members of Congress to let them know how Title II is being used,” said Melinda George, the director of policy for Learning Forward, a nonprofit focused on improving professional learning for educators. “This is the most critical funding there is to support educators to be able to support students.”

While most of the push will happen online, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) is holding a hearing tomorrow about teacher health and wellness, and said he plans to bring up Title II in that forum. “These [proposed] cuts go right to the heart of helping our kids learn and be competitive,” Ryan said. “The president campaigned on running the government like a business—well, businesses invest in their people.”

The federal government puts more than $2 billion annually into efforts to improve teacher quality and professional development. States and districts have a lot of leeway in how they use Title II-A funds, including for revising certification and tenure, helping teachers understand academic standards, supporting programs to recruit and retain teachers, and even for class-size reduction. The new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, maintains Title II as a formula fund.

The Trump Administration argues that Title II is ineffective. The funds are “poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact,” White House budget documents say. In fact, plenty of research has shown that professional development doesn’t necessarily translate to improve student outcomes. But proponents of continuous learning say the programs should be fixed, not scrapped.

As my colleague Alyson Klein wrote in April, “The proposed cut is the largest—and arguably, the most consequential—the new president pitched for the U.S. Department of Education in his fiscal 2018 budget request.” That budget would affect the 2018-19 school year.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.