We commend Congress and President Trump for passing a federal education budget that supports students. Great schools need great leaders, and the maintained funding of Title II-A state grants is crucial for providing school leaders with the professional learning they need to improve their schools for each student. The budget maintains those grants at about $2 billion, the same as FY2017 levels. We were thrilled that other programs that support districts, schools, and students were also funded – particularly Title I grants for districts; IDEA special education grants for states; and Title IV student support and academic enrichment grants.
But there is still critical work to be done. The budget shortsightedly eliminated the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program (formerly called the School Leadership Program), the only federal program dedicated to funding local initiatives for recruiting and retaining school leaders in high-need schools. Since 2002, these grants have made it possible for states, districts, and supporting organizations and universities to provide school leaders with the professional learning they need to make lasting improvements in their schools, from development programs for aspiring principals to coaching and mentoring for sitting principals. These grants have helped transform these programs, the leaders they serve, and the young people those leaders reach each day.
As the FY2019 appropriations process gets underway, we join other organizations in urging members of Congress to support budgeting $14.5 million for the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program (SLRSP). The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 infused more money into domestic programs, providing an opportunity to continue funding for critical, evidence-based programs like SLRSP.
Given that school leaders account for 25 percent of a school’s impact on student learning, and that researchers have not found a case of a struggling school that turned around without a powerful leader, our young people are counting on it.