Kathleen Rice

10/22/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/22/2021 07:49

Rice Introduces Teachers & Parents at the Table Act

WASHINGTON - U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice introduced 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. Rice announced the introduction of her bill during a meeting yesterday with Jennifer Wolfe, a social studies teacher at Oceanside High School on Long Island and the 2021 New York State Teacher of the Year.

"No one should have a stronger say in the policies impacting our schools than those who implement them and see their effects every day in classrooms and homes across the country," said Rep. Kathleen Rice. "The educational challenges of the pandemic have underscored this fact and made it abundantly clear that we need an expanded platform for our public school teachers and families to share their expertise with national policymakers. My Teachers & Parents at the Table Act will establish new committees to elevate these local voices as we work to improve our public school system during these unprecedented times."

"Accomplished teachers are skilled at assessing the needs of schools and the families they serve and then collaborating with colleagues and administrators to find solutions to meet these needs," said Jennifer Wolfe. "When teachers are at the table, decisions made are relevant, and effective; enhancing and humanizing 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 was first created with the assistance of Marguerite Izzo, a teacher in the Malverne School District on Long Island and the 2007 New York State Teacher of the Year. The bill is supported nationally by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) and the National PTA.

"Our nation's outstanding teachers regularly improve their teaching practice by seeking student and parent feedback," said Bob Williams, NNSTOY President and Acting CEO. "The Teachers and Parents at the Table Act allows policymakers to incorporate teacher and parent feedback to create coherent, equitable, and impactful education policy. This Act completes a critical feedback loop that has been missing."

"National PTA commends Representative Rice for her continued leadership in re-introducing the Teachers and Parents at the Table Act and for her ongoing commitment to the importance of family and teacher engagement in policymaking," said Anna King, president of National PTA. "Now is the time to reimagine family engagement for greater impact, equity and effectiveness for every child's success."

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.

The full text of the Teachers and Parents Act is available here.