Educator Voice Opportunities: California Teaching Policy Fellowship
Teach Plus engages excellent, experienced teachers in both policy and practice, running fellowships designed to help teachers develop policy recommendations and advocacy steps on issues critical to the profession and equitable educational opportunities for students from low-income families.
Teach Plus California’s current initiatives include the statewide Teaching Policy Fellowship and TLPL instructional practice work in Los Angeles. Since the first Los Angeles Teaching Policy Fellowship launched in 2011, more than 525 California educators have taken part in Teach Plus California’s policy fellowships and practice programs.
The Teaching Policy Fellowship is a highly selective program that offers excellent teachers the opportunity to expand their influence and advocate for changes that improve student outcomes across the education system. Fellows engage with key education stakeholders and policymakers in addition to receiving extensive training in policy, advocacy, and storytelling. In recent years, California Teaching Policy Fellows have testified in front of the California State Legislature regarding tenure practices and conducted a survey on over 500 California principals’ views on teacher layoff policies.
What have been your organization’s biggest accomplishments while exploring educator voice work?
Since 2011, more than 100 highly effective teachers have taken part in the California Teaching Policy Fellowship, elevating teacher perspectives and advocating on issues of assessment, teacher evaluation, and school accountability. Teach Plus teachers have helped advance state legislation to ensure English learners and newcomer students have equitable access to education, and resolutions in LAUSD calling for meaningful measures of school performance and high expectations for all students. Teach Plus teacher leaders have been instrumental in advancing the conversation about reforming tenure policies in California. In 2017, Teach Plus teachers, together with teachers from E4E, introduced the Teacher and Student Success Act, that would for the first time make teacher tenure in the state a true, earned professional benchmark. The teachers succeeded in convincing a bipartisan majority on two committees, and nearly the entire California Assembly, that it’s time for change. These milestones marked the first time in over three decades that an effort to strengthen California’s tenure law had moved this far within the state legislature. Though backroom manipulation halted the bill’s progress in 2018, the teachers remained steadfast, staging a protest at the Capitol demanding that teachers not be silenced.
What advice do you have for other advocacy organizations thinking about engaging educators?
Do it. We believe that any good piece of policy or policy-making in education must include educators if that policy is to be sustained. Engage educators early on and throughout the process. Be open to truly listening but also help ensure that they are prepared to make decisions that connect systems-level thinking with school-level impact. And if you aren’t in a position to prepare them to do that, identify partners who can.
- Celebrating and Preserving Diversity: Recommendations on Retaining Teachers of Color in California
- Investing in Teacher Mentoring to Strengthen the Foundation for School Improvement: Recommendations from Teach Plus California Policy Fellows
- Teacher and Student Success Act case study
- Teacher Leadership: A Key Lever in School Improvement and Turnaround
- In Modesto City Schools, Two Teach Plus Teacher Leaders Advocate for Refugee and Immigrant
The topics below represent this member’s recent priorities, as they’ve reported through the annual PIE Network legislative and policy survey. If no priorities are listed, this member is new to the Network and/or has not yet participated in this survey. For much greater detail about all PIE Network members’ recent campaigns, members can access the PIE Network Policy Map here. If you have questions on the PIE Network legislative and policy survey or the Policy Map, contact Lukas.