A Tangible Display of Teacher Appreciation? Investing in Title II
Every once in a while, when I’m drinking my Saturday morning coffee, I look down and realize I’m drinking out of my teacher appreciation mug. That mug always brings back memories: I remember the days when my students amazed me with their insights and impressed me with how much their reading had improved. I remember the days when they drove me crazy, and I went home to sit on the floor to cry and eat my feelings. And I always, always remember how inadequate I felt and how much I wished I was a better teacher for them.
I didn’t have the quality induction or mentoring I really needed in my first year to handle the challenges of teaching middle school English. I didn’t get the opportunity to observe other effective teachers, and I didn’t get real-time coaching from my experienced peers. And I didn’t get nearly enough opportunities to deeply dive in our curriculum or explore new methods of teaching.
But, oh, I got that mug. And while I appreciate that mug, I would have benefited much more from these types of training opportunities and development. They’re all examples of supports that are often funded — at least in part — by Title II, the federal program that supports quality teaching and leadership.
And yet, despite the fact that we know how important teachers are and how often we hear politicians talk about appreciating teachers, the Trump administration has proposed to cut this program in its entirety — all $2.1 billion of it.
Because the Title II funding formula directs more money to schools with higher percentages of students living in poverty, these schools — which are already inequitably resourced — will be left with even less funding to dedicate to teacher development. And we know that these are the schools that need strong teachers the most.
Teachers are by far the most important in-school factor for student achievement. Politicians often sing the praises of teachers, but to extol teachers and then propose to eliminate funding for their support in the same breath is demoralizing and hypocritical.
Congress has the opportunity to push back against this proposal. Not only do I hope they turn the Trump administration down in its request to cut funding for teacher support and development, but I also hope they use this opportunity to really think about what it means to appreciate teachers. A budget is a statement of values. Congress: don’t just hand teachers a mug; show us that you truly value and appreciate teachers.