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Thursday, July 8, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Teacher Professional Development Institutes Act, legislation based on a unique and highly successful partnership between the New Haven Public School System and Yale University. Based on the model which has been operating at Yale for over 25 years, my proposal would establish eight new Teacher Professional Development Institutes throughout the country each year over the next five years.
Today, it is more important than ever for our nation's teachers to have access to the skills and resources they need to prepare our children for the future. Since 1978, the Institute has been providing area educators with the opportunity to strengthen themselves professionally through annual seminars in the humanities and sciences - by working with program participants to bring the curriculum and lessons of the seminars to the classroom.
In this bill, every Teacher Institute would consist of a partnership between an institution of higher education and the local public school system in which a significant proportion of the students come from low-income households. The program strengthens the present teacher workforce by giving participants the opportunity to gain more sophisticated content knowledge and a chance to develop curriculum units that can be directly applied in classrooms. For example, the Yale-New Haven program it is based on has offered several thirteen-session seminars each year, led by Yale faculty, on topics that teachers have selected to enhance their mastery of the specific subject area that they teach.
The result is that teachers have been found to gain confidence in their deeper understanding of the subject matter and enthusiastically deliver their new curriculum to the classroom - qualities that translate into higher expectations for their students and in turn, higher student achievement.
And student achievement is what this effort is about. By allowing teachers to determine the seminar subjects--by providing them the resources to develop curricula for their classroom and their students--this legislation lifts up our students by empowering teachers. With a K through 12 teacher shortage forecast in the near-future, those already teaching will do the majority of teaching in the classrooms in the very near future. As such, it is imperative that we invest in methods to strengthen our present teaching workforce.
Like the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute before it, we believe this program can provide a model for communities around the country. And so, it is my distinct honor to introduce the Teacher Professional Development Institutes Act, and I look forward to its consideration in this body. Thank you.