Congressman Tim Ryan Introduces Teacher Health and Wellness Act | Congressman Tim Ryan
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Congressman Tim Ryan Introduces Teacher Health and Wellness Act

September 6, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC – Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Mike Bost (R-IL) introduced the Teacher Health and Wellness Act (H.R. 4221). This bi-partisan legislation provides support for teachers by creating a pilot study at the National Institute of Health aimed at reducing teacher stress, increasing teacher health, and ultimately boosting student achievement. To view the bill text, click here.

High levels of stress are adversely affecting teachers’ health. Teachers with high levels of stress are less effective in raising student achievement than their healthier peers. According to a 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey by the American Federation of Teachers and the Badass Teachers Association, 61 percent of educations and schools staff find their work “always” or “often” stressful. It’s significantly higher than workers in the general population, who report that work is “always” or “often” stressful only 30 percent of the time. Stress affects the physical health of teachers which compromises teaching performance and negatively impacts student well-being.

“Our teachers are more than just educators – they act as counselors, psychologists, doctors, confidants, and so much more to students every single day. Their important work is both physically and mentally taxing, and having the tools available to manage these stresses is crucial to making sure our students get a first-rate education,” said Congressman Ryan. “The Teacher Health & Wellness Act is a key component in elevating the teaching profession and ensuring our educators have the support they need to help themselves, and our kids, succeed.”  

“As kids head back to school this fall, it’s important that we improve mental health resources, not only for students, but for teachers as well,” said Congressman Bost. “By studying teacher stress levels and retention rates, we’ll be able to better support their mental health and wellness so that they can continue the important work of teaching our children.”

“Anyone working in a child-serving profession experiences some degree of daily stress and research has shown that many educators do not take time out to care for themselves and de-pressurize. This leads to physical and mental health problems, burnout, and ultimately many teachers leave the profession prematurely. Teaching resilience, problem solving, and emotion-management skills can help decrease stress and increase performance in teachers, as well as their students,” said Joan Cole Duffell, Executive Director of Committee for Children.

“A key to student success and achievement is the supports that our young people receive as part of their academic program.  But equally important to school climate are healthy teachers and supports that they need as they address the additional stresses of the classroom--school saftey, cuts in funding, test scores, increasing class size, traumatized families-- to name a few. Public Advocacy for Kids thanks Rep. Tim Ryan for supporting our teachers by introducing the Teacher Health and Wellness Act addressing the impact of added stress on our committed teaching force, and seeking a climate of wellness.  Both healthy students and healthy teachers are essential to healthy schools,” said Arnold F Fege, President of Public Advocacy for Kids.

“Public Education & Business Coalition strongly believes that for children to thrive, teachers must be honored and valued. The Teacher Health & Wellness Act is an important catalyst to determine how we can sustain and support teachers in their profession. Teachers are charged with raising our nation's future workforce;  it is vital to research and understand ways in which we can sustain teachers in the profession and alleviate the pressures that cause attrition, especially given the diminishing number of candidates entering the teaching profession. This is a vital investment in our teacher workforce and, through them, in the future of our nation's economy,” said Tom Brinegar, Board Chair of Public Education & Business Coalition and Vice President and CFO of Peak Resources.

“We have learned that teacher well-being and social and emotional competence matter for students to succeed and thrive in classroom settings – socially, emotionally, and academically. Yet, we need to learn about how such efforts, such as SEL programs, teacher training, and strategies to foster positive working conditions promote the social and emotional competencies that teachers need to reduce their own levels of stress to be more effective with their students. This bill will bring us closer to understanding how we can support the valuable teachers who work to develop our students,” Said Nick Yoder, Director of Policy and Practice, Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

“When students are chronically absent they miss valuable instruction time that can set them back academically and socially. Chronic absenteeism is especially concerning in early grades, as this is when students are gaining foundational academic and social skills that are critical to long-term academic success. Principals need resources and support to address the barriers that prevent students from attending school more regularly. That is why NAESP supports the Chronic Absenteeism Reduction for Every School (CARES) Act, which would support data collection and analysis, boost local partnerships, and strengthen school-based mentoring programs. NAESP looks forward to working with Representatives Ryan and Herrera Beutler to advance this critical legislation,” said Dr. L. Earl Franks, CAE, Executive Director of  National Association of Elementary School Principals.