Bennet Highlights Need for Great School Leaders to Turnaround Low-Performing Schools During Wheat Ridge School Visit

Wheat Ridge, CO – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, today highlighted the importance of highly-trained, forward-thinking principals during a visit to Wheat Ridge 5-8, a re-configured school in Jefferson County Public Schools.

“As a former school superintendent, I know strong leadership from our principals can help increase student performance, improve teacher retention and transform the entire culture of a school,” said Bennet. “It is great to see a school leader doing the hard work to turnaround a school and provide a quality education that will prepare each and every student for the 21st century economy. The bill to fix No Child Left Behind will help ensure more schools have leaders like Warren Blair at Wheat Ridge.”

Bennet secured key provisions in the bill to roll back No Child Left Behind, which passed the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) last week. Bennet included in the bill several provisions that would support principals, including one that is based on his Lead Act and would improve the country’s systems for recruiting, preparing and supporting effective principals in high-need schools. He also included an amendment based on the GREAT Teachers and Principals Act, which would focus principal training on results.

Only 2,000 high schools – 12 percent of all high schools – produce more than half of the country’s dropouts. The quality of school leadership is second only to teacher quality among school-related factors in its effect on student learning. Currently, there is a shortage of principals who can lead these transformation efforts in our lowest performing schools, especially in rural areas. Teachers cite quality principals as critical to their decisions to stay in high-need schools.  

Bennet’s visit to Wheat Ridge is part of his ongoing effort to inform conversations about how best to improve public education and build consensus for reforms that will help revitalize our schools and help prepare kids for success in college and the 21st century economy. The visits are modeled after the approach Bennet took as superintendent of Denver Public Schools, where he scheduled daily meetings with teachers and principals, and members of the community—conversations that helped build consensus and support for the positive reforms he implemented at the district. Bennet believes that the best ideas come from outside of Washington and wants to bring the voices, ideas and aspirations of teachers, principals, parents and students to the U.S. Senate.