Gov. Bill Haslam and state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen launched on Tuesday an effort to aid Tennessee schools by improving school leadership.
The effort gathers $3.5 million in next year's budget, along with $600,000 from private funds, to launch the Transforming School Leadership initiative, which aims to improve school leader preparation and retain and reward individuals to lead the state's lowest performing schools as well as provide networking opportunities and support for principals in rural communities.
"I firmly believe that one of the most important things we can do to help our schools succeed is make sure they are led by strong principals," Haslam said in a statement. "School leaders have a tough job, and as a state we need to support their dedication with resources that will ensure every teacher and student in Tennessee has a transformational principal."
Each year, the state hires approximately 270 new principals across 1,819 public schools. The effort has several main elements including revising the policies that hold the 19 traditional preparation programs within many of the state's higher education institutions accountable, funding 50 fellowship positions and 50 district partnership grants for leadership development, giving incentives to leaders who fill vacancies at low-performing schools and creates a network for 50 rural principals and provides resources for such principals to attend state conferences and training.
"This proposal underscores the state's commitment to excellent school leaders and reinforces our belief that school leaders are incredibly important," McQueen said in a statement. "No school can be successful without a successful principal, and every single child and teacher deserves to be in a school led by a highly effective leader."
The Ayers Foundation, Scarlett Family Foundation, and the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) invested the combined $600,000 as part of the public-private partnership.
"School leaders who can skillfully lead learning and people are essential for driving bigger and faster academic gains for Tennessee students. The Tennessee new leader fellowships (SCORE) will be investing and will expand access to high-quality preparation and opportunities to learn on the job in schools with strong support systems like residencies and mentor relationships," said Jamie Woodson, SCORE executive chairman and CEO, in a statement.
Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757- 6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.