- Since DeVos’s tenure as Secretary of Education began, classroom teacher ambassador fellows are struggling to maintain balance between their roles as teachers and as possible influencers of policy, especially when some public school teachers have expressed mistrust in DeVos, according to Education Week.
- Current fellows in the program report that DeVos seems to truly listen to their concerns, though she has not so far allowed as many opportunities for direct input as past secretaries of education have done.
- DeVos has ignored advice on some issues such as the scope of plans to increase school choice and the proposed elimination of Title II funding for teacher professional development, an area that even proponents say needs improvement, but has chosen to keep the teacher fellowship program intact do far.
Teachers need to have input into educational policies and practices because they serve on the front lines of education. Some Teacher Ambassador Fellows were skeptical about whether or not DeVos would value their input at the national level. However, after working with her for six months, they seem optimistic this program will continue, though the true impact of fellows on policy remains to be seen.
Programs such as this represent the need for increased teacher autonomy in the classroom, an element most teachers feel has declined in recent years. Teacher autonomy may not seem to be an important element to some administrators who feel the need for tighter control. However, studies show that increased autonomy affects teachers' satisfaction scores and leads to increased teacher retention rates.
The current Every Student Succeeds Act calls for increased local control of schools, a trend that creators of the plan hope will encourage state and local entities to take more ownership of education and encourage them to develop policies that are more tailored to their own situations. The same holds true of a classroom. Teachers who have shown themselves to be ineffective should be removed or mentored. If they have demonstrated that they are effective, they need to be treated like the trained professionals they are.