U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed a new funding priority in mid-April that would empower teachers to rethink their professional development. Under the proposal, teachers would receive stipends or vouchers to select and access professional development courses and opportunities that are relevant to their personal needs or career goals instead of having one-size-fits all programming dictated to them by their state or local education agency.

TCTA submitted comments in support of the proposal, noting that as professionals who have received extensive training in a discrete body of knowledge and skills, teachers should be entrusted with professional judgment and discretion in determining their own continuing learning needs. TCTA also supported the proposal’s provisions allowing teachers to replace no less than a majority of existing mandatory professional development with teacher-directed learning, noting that in order to meaningfully enable teachers to pursue self-selected, instructionally relevant professional learning, existing mandated professional development activities must be simultaneously reduced. 

With the comment period ending May 13, TCTA expects further action from the Department of Education on the proposal once public comments have been reviewed and any adjustments to the proposal have been made. We will keep members posted on developments.

USDE proposes professional development pilots for self-selected professional development for special education personnel

The U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) proposed a funding priority under the State Personnel Development Grants (SPDG) program on April 24 for states to establish professional development pilots that would include stipends or other mechanisms to enable teachers and other special education personnel to select professional learning that will count toward state or local professional development and certification renewal requirements. The pilots would be designed to ensure that the self-selected professional development options are designed to meet individual teacher/personnel needs and improve results for children with disabilities. OSERS is seeking public comments on the proposal by May 26. TCTA has long advocated for teachers to be able to self-select professional development based on their identified needs and encourages members to comment on the proposal.