Teacher Centers and Professional Learning Programs
As a constituent who cares deeply about public education, I urge you to restore $21.4 million in funding for Teacher Centers in the enacted budget as the executive budget eliminates funding for these essential centers. Teacher Centers were established by the Legislature to provide locally determined and ongoing professional development for all educators. They are the only state-funded vehicle guaranteed to support professional development for all school districts, including over 200 high-need schools/districts, BOCES, non-public schools and charter schools.
Last year, the Legislature invested additional funding in the statewide network of teacher centers. That funding allowed 359,000 educators to participate in professional learning experiences and supported longer operational hours and more learning opportunities.
During the pandemic, these centers provided support to over 500,000 educators, parents and community members. Initially, the centers concentrated on supporting all educators with the transition to online learning, this conformed with the historic mission of teacher centers ― to experiment with the use of multiple instructional approaches and instructional technologies.
Many Teacher Centers also offer programs that support the emotional and mental health of students and teachers; provide trauma informed instruction; bolster the state’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; and provide experience and other learning opportunities to special education teachers. These offerings address some of the most significant issues facing public education and further provide best practices to overcome them.
Teacher Centers assist educators in assessing and meeting the learning needs of all students. This professional learning system is organized and operated by teachers to improve their own educational performance, which benefits both educators and students. Accordingly, I call on you to restore $21.4 million in funding for Teacher Centers in this year’s enacted budget.
Thank you for your consideration of these very important issues. I respectfully ask that you bring up this issue with your conference and I would greatly appreciate a response to this email.