Bennet: Good Leadership Can Turn Around Our Failing Schools

Bennet Pushing for Investment in Training Centers to Support Principals in Low-Performing Schools

Washington, DC -Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado and former Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, is urging the Senate to include programs to support and grow school leaders to turn schools around in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Bennet, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) participated in a committee hearing yesterday considering the importance of teachers and leaders as a part of education reforms.

Bennet is pushing specifically for the inclusion of the bill he is working on as a necessary element to improve our failing education system. This legislation would help build capacity for principals to lead successful turnaround efforts in our lowest-performing schools. Research shows that only 2,000 high schools - 12 percent of all high schools - produce half of America's dropouts. Efforts to change the current realities for these students will require attracting and supporting great leaders in these schools.

"We have a system for recruiting, training, supporting and retaining teachers and principals that was designed in the last century and is failing to support the most essential resource we have to ensure that our children are equipped to excel in this economy-our teachers and principals," said Bennet. "There is no harder job than being a teacher principal in a high-need school, and we have failed to put the support in place for our teachers and leaders. We need to provide the support necessary to attract and retain leaders to turn around our failing schools."

Specifically, the bill would establish a national leadership institute and regional training centers that would:

  • Build the capacity and increase the supply of effective principals to lead school turnaround efforts
  • Train and support cohorts of expert principals and school leaders to lead successful turnarounds
  • Train mentors to support leaders in turnaround schools
  • Collect, build on and disseminate information about effective leadership practices for school turnarounds
  • Support the development of open source professional development materials for principals and school leaders

This effort comes on the heels of Bennet's push to include his bill to attract and support talented principals in high-need schools in ESEA.