December 13, 2017
State Chiefs Take a Leadership Role in Elevating the Teaching Profession

WASHINGTON, DC – A new policy brief from Chiefs for Change today underscores how Congress is threatening critical funding to support teacher leadership at exactly the wrong time.

Forward-looking school systems throughout the country are working to establish avenues for teacher leadership, and leading states are beginning to provide powerful models to guide that work.

With Title IIA funding – and the flexibility for its effective use under the new education law, ESSA – at stake until Congress finalizes FY18 appropriations, it is more important than ever for the most strategic and forward-thinking leaders to make investments aimed at engaging teacher leaders and embedding programs for their empowerment.

Sustained, Bold Reform: Investing in Teacher Leadership in New Mexico draws lessons from the distinct approach used by New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera and her successor Christopher Ruszkowski, both Chiefs for Change members, to modernize and elevate the teaching profession, providing an in-depth analysis of the state’s successful model for teacher leadership. With the state agency as a case study, this brief lends an insider view of the structures, systems, metrics, policies, and programs developed in the Land of Enchantment to empower teachers as leaders, advocates, and trusted partners in school and system improvement.  Bold leadership, sustained over time – and the coaching trees that help to ensure sustained leadership – matter.

Within this brief, Chiefs for Change further builds its vanguard model for planning and designing a teacher and leader advocacy continuum. The teacher leadership system in New Mexico aligns to the Chiefs for Change teacher leadership and advocacy continuum and explains how the state worked closely with educators to meet three key objectives for meaningful teacher leadership:

  1. Empowering and leveraging high-performing teachers to create and sustain effective education policies,
  2. Building a culture of innovation and shared responsibility toward constant improvement, and
  3. Leveraging teacher leaders to address and solve critical issues or challenges at the school and district levels.

About Chiefs for Change

Chiefs for Change is a nonprofit, bipartisan network of diverse state and district education Chiefs dedicated to preparing all students for today’s world and tomorrow’s through deeply committed leadership. Chiefs for Change advocates for policies and practices that are making a difference today for students, and builds a pipeline of talented, diverse Future Chiefs ready to lead major school systems.

For technical questions about the content of this brief, contact Margie Yeager, Chiefs for Change Director of Advocacy and Policy, at

About This Policy Brief Series

Chiefs for Change has been supporting states who are advancing ambitious efforts around teacher leadership and leveraging the most effective educators. We have shared this work in the June 2017 brief The Case for Teacher Leadership and the August 2017 Hiding in Plain Sight brief that profiles the work of Louisiana teacher leaders in leading efforts to implement high quality curriculum. In the coming months, we will release the final brief in this series which provides an in-depth analysis of Tennessee’s model for magnifying the impact of the state’s most effective educators. The series includes specific resources and case studies on Chiefs for Change member states to illustrate for others how teacher leaders can be great partners in a Chief’s broader vision for improving education across their state or district.