$1.7 million grant funds program to ensure that teachers and principals help lead the conversation around the Common Core

This fall, the America Achieves Fellowship for Teachers and Principals (AAFTP) will launch state-based educator voice fellowships across Colorado, Michigan, and New York, which will give outstanding teachers and principals the opportunity to share with parents and the public perspectives of how changes are implemented in their classrooms as states and school districts make the shift to the Common Core State Standards.

Enabling educators – people who work in schools every day and know the Common Core– to share their in-school stories will help parents and the public better understand the shift to higher standards and generate more constructive conversations about the future of public education in these three states.

“All too often, the discussion of public education today has been co-opted by political agendas, vitriol, misinformation and misunderstanding. These fellowships offer the opportunity for educators to take leadership roles within their communities in communicating the realities of what is happening and what is needed as students adapt to the Common Core’s higher standards,” says Peter Kannam, America Achieves’ Co-Founder and Managing Partner. “By enabling teachers to demonstrate their expertise in non-school settings, this program will also help the public see teachers and principals as the education experts they are and thereby elevate the teaching profession.”

The three state fellowships are funded by a two-year $1.7 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. This fall, approximately 50 of each

state’s most outstanding teachers and principals will be recruited to participate. This highly-selective fellowship provides a platform for sharing best practices, developing resources and tools, and giving educators a voice in local, state and national discussions about public education. The state-focused initiative mirrors and extends a nationwide fellowship program launched by America Achieves in 2010.

“According to the 107 teacher and principal fellows in the national AAFTP program, the Common Core State Standards offer a unique opportunity for principals and teachers to raise the bar for students,” says Charlie Cummings, the Program Manager of the America Achieves Fellowship for Teachers and Principals. “Yet in public discussions, the voice of educators – an authentic and respected perspective – has been quiet. Not only are educators busy meeting the needs of students, they are infrequently invited into the public conversation.”

America Achieves has demonstrated the ability to gain invitations for educators to participate in public conversations, and to protect them from becoming a “mouthpiece” for policy agendas. Cummings says, “Our goal is to enable educators to become more active in conversations that affect teaching and learning in their schools. America Achieves believes educators are experts, and the Fellowship’s work is geared toward demonstrating their expertise to parents, policy makers, and the public.”

Videos of America Achieves’ national fellows demonstrating excellent Common Core instruction can be viewed at commoncore.americaachieves.org.

For the teachers and principals selected for these educator voice networks, America Achieves will extend and foster relationships with key thoughts leaders and provide comprehensive, skilled counsel to protect educators’ time and authentic viewpoints.

“The educator voice is needed in public conversations now more than ever,” says Kannam. “Decisions being made about teaching and learning standards and assessments aligned to those standards that will have a lasting impact on public education for years to come. America Achieves is excited to elevate the voices of people who know what works in schools – outstanding teachers and principals – in order to ensure that all students in these three states are being prepared for success in college and careers.”