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Organization helps to magnify teachers' voices in political discussions

Organization helps to magnify teachers' voices in political discussions
Posted at 3:52 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 23:05:50-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — You'll often see teachers on a picket line demanding change to improve schools and pay, but when it comes to creating the policies to change schools, many teachers don't realize how important their voices are.

A year and a half ago Jen Loescher had never spoken in front of the school board, let alone state lawmakers saying she didn't "feel comfortable or confident."

Now the math teacher of nearly two decades is pushing a bill in Carson City to help improve the quality of Nevada schools.

"If we can keep our best teachers in the classroom it is best for the kids," Loescher said.

How did the middle school teacher with no political experience get a bill on the floor in Carson City?

That journey began with Teach Plus, an organization aimed at empowering teachers like Loescher to make an impact outside their classrooms.

"That is a voice that is sometimes missing from these discussions," Alex Bybee, Nevada State Director of Teach Plus said.

The organization's first cohort is already making an impact, not just with the Senate bill but also with pushing discussions.

It has put their voices and the voices of their students directly in front of district and state leaders, saying those opinions and insights are what make education policies successful.

"It is going to increase the likelihood that policy is sustainable. It is also going to increase its impact on student outcomes," Bybee said.

When it comes to these policies, Loescher is now on the other side of the table pushing for Senate Bill 99 which is aimed at finding ways to keep good teachers from leaving the classroom.

"We need career pathways for teachers. We have the best teachers leaving the classroom, leaving the profession. It is hurting the kids. It is hurting us as colleagues" Loescher said.

Loescher says the idea for the bill came from discussions with her Teach Plus colleagues.

They realized the only way for most teachers to advance and be recognized for their performance was to move out of the classroom and toward administration.

"The entry point should never be the ceiling regardless of the profession," Loescher said. "If we can keep our best teachers in the classroom it is best for the kids."

While the fate of the bill will be determined by lawmakers, Loescher says the time she has invested with Teach Plus has been invaluable and helped magnify her voice exponentially.

The group is accepting applications for its next group of fellows until March 10.

What is Raising The Bar?

Together with parents, educators, business and community leaders, 13 Action News will lead the discussion on improving education in Southern Nevada. We will connect families with solutions that empower our community to build a foundation for a successful future. If you have a story idea, email us at raisingthebar@ktnv.com.