Support Teacher Centers and Other Professional Programs
As your constituent, I urge you to restore funding for Teacher Resource and Computer Training Centers to the 2008-09 level of $40 million. The 2020-21 executive budget eliminates funding for these centers, which are critical for educators, parents and school-related professionals. These centers were established by the Legislature to provide comprehensive, ongoing professional development and support services to educators, and they are the only state funded vehicle guaranteed to support educational professional development in all school districts, including more than 200 high-needs districts, BOCES, non-public and charter schools. In 2018-19, these centers had over 300,000 participants in instructional activities.
The Teacher Centers network provides quality professional development that educators can use immediately to improve instruction and student achievement. The funding for these centers supports: the ability of educators to successfully address the mental health crisis in our schools; the retention of teachers due to quality mentoring programs; programs designed to alleviate the shortage of certified special education teachers; the use of instructional technologies to implement the Next Generation Learning Standards; and professional learning opportunities in districts that would otherwise not have access to such programs.
Teacher Center programs are offered in-person and/or online and reflect the self-reported needs of educators served by the centers so educators from across the state can easily access professional learning that specifically addresses their needs. This is especially beneficial for rural districts in need of high-quality professional development.
I also urge you to fully support and adequately fund the Mentor Teacher-Internship Program (MTIP). This grant program provides support for new educators and increases the retention of newer teachers. MTIP eases the transition for new teachers. This program improves teacher quality and helps bolster the educational performance of students. I respectfully request that funding to this program be increased to the 2008-09 level of $10 million to provide more opportunities and support services for new educators.
Finally, I ask that funding for the National Board Certification Program be increased to $1 million so that more teachers can participate in this exemplary professional development program. National Board Certification is a highly respected, voluntary credential. Research clearly illustrates the numerous benefits to students when teachers hold National Board Certification. Due to the popularity of this program, National Board Certification funding was exhausted in 2018, and this year's proposed funding level will only allow 147 teachers to take advantage of this program. A funding level of $1 million would open the door to many more participants. Accordingly, I ask that the state provide additional funding to this program to increase the number of teachers who can seek this certification.
At a time when we are asking educators to comply with higher learning standards to ensure all students are on track for college and career readiness, we should provide educators with the tools and resources they need to meet these objectives.
I ask that you raise these important issues in conference and urge your leadership to restore the $40 million in Teacher Center funding, increase funding for MTIP to $10 million and support the funding level of $1 million for National Board Certification in this year's enacted state budget.
I thank you for your consideration of these important issues and would appreciate a reply to my correspondence.
Once you have completed your actions at left, you can choose to do even more: