James Lane, assistant secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education, began his address on a recent webinar for education leaders with gratitude for principals. “You’ve stepped up in ways that none of us could have ever imagined,” he said, going on to thank principals for their dedication, perseverance and tenacity in keeping communities together during the pandemic.
Citing the report, How Principals Affect Students and Schools, Lane emphasized the importance of school leaders, quoting the report authors: Principals really matter.
Indeed it is difficult to envision an investment with a higher ceiling on its potential return than a successful effort to improve school leadership. He underscored this point by reviewing the Department of Education’s priorities and its supplemental priorities.
The supplemental priorities include:
- Diversifying the education workforce to reflect the diversity of students.
- Addressing staffing shortages through measures such as encouraging states to increase compensation; improving teacher working conditions; supporting teacher-wellbeing; and building a cadre of substitute teachers.
- Investing in an educator pipeline by establishing loan forgiveness, teacher development residencies and teaching as a registered apprenticeship.
- Providing technical assistance to states and studying teacher shortages in order to provide researched guidance as to how to increase the number of teachers in the pipeline and improve retention.
- Preparing and developing principals by expanding the definition of “educator” in certain grants to include not only classroom teachers but all those involved in education, including principals. These grants include the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant program, and Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grants.
Lane also addressed the administration’s commitment of federal funds to meet the needs of students and educators trying to recover and reimagine schools.
“We have got to invest those dollars now,” Lane said, addressing education leaders across the country. Lane and his colleagues are meeting with district leaders nationally who are using their federal funding to support activities such as partnering with community organizations to provide holistic services to students, putting a health clinic on campus that is open to the entire community and others.
Lane ended his remarks urging district leaders to be bold about the actions they take to make sure every student has the support they need to be successful.
You can view the recording of the webinar here.