Source: United States House of Representatives – Representatives Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice introduced H.R. 8570, the Teachers and Parents at the Table Act, which would create volunteer committees of public school teachers and families to advise the U.S. Secretary of Education and report to Congress on topics that affect public school students such as testing and assessment, teacher diversity and training, family engagement, school climate, and more. H.R. 8570 was created with the help of Marguerite Izzo, a fifth grade teacher in the Malverne School District on Long Island who was named New York State Teacher of the Year in 2007, and the bill is supported by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) and the National PTA.
“The federal government has an important role to play when it comes to crafting national education policy, but we only do ourselves a disservice if we fail to draw on the input, advice, and expertise of the people who implement and see the effects of those policies every day in classrooms and homes across the country,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “COVID-19 has created devastating consequences for public school students, their families, and their teachers. This legislation will provide them a voice and a seat at the table as we navigate this unprecedented school year and continue the work of improving our public schools.”
“Accomplished teachers are skilled at assessing the needs of schools and the families they serve and then collaborating with colleagues and administrators to meet these needs,” said Jennifer Wolfe, a Social Studies Teacher at Oceanside High School and the 2021 New York State Teacher of the Year. “When teachers are at the table, decisions made are relevant, effective and inclusive; enhancing education for all students no matter the context of the classroom, or the money spent to educate each student.”
“Teaching is a highly intellectual activity. From a school leader’s perspective, the more the teacher voice is involved in discussing the intricacies of this work, the more the work will be recognized as rigorous, challenging and rewarding,” said Dr. Phyllis Harrington, the Superintendent of Oceanside UFSD and President Elect of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. “This recognition will encourage more to enter this noble profession.”
The Teachers and Parents at the Table Act would establish two volunteer committees, a Teachers Advisory Committee and a Parents and Families Advisory Committee, to monitor the effects and outcomes of federal education policy and report to the Secretary of Education and Congress on their findings. The Committees will be comprised of public school teachers who have demonstrated policy expertise and public school parents and family members with a history of involvement and family engagement in their schools. Both committees will represent the geographic, racial, ethnic, and economic diversity of the teaching workforce and the student populations they serve, and consideration will be given to represent the needs and experience of at risk populations, including children with disabilities, English learners, students who are members of Indian tribes, LGBT youth, migrant students, homeless children and youth, children in foster care, and others.
“Our nation’s most outstanding classroom teachers regularly improve their practice by adjusting their instruction to incorporate formative assessment and student feedback,” said Bob Williams, NNSTOY Acting CEO. “The Teachers and Parents at the Table Act provides a unique opportunity for policymakers to incorporate feedback that will result in improved policies and practices that are more coherent, equitable, effective, and impactful.”
“It is essential that teachers, parents and family members have a seat at the table whenever policies and decisions are made that impact students and schools. Their critical expertise and perspective is more important than ever in this time of crisis in our country,” said Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA. “National PTA commends Representative Rice for her leadership in introducing the Teachers and Parents at the Table Act and for her commitment to the importance of family and teacher engagement in policymaking.”
The full text of the Teachers and Parents Act is available here.