There are some who suggest that teachers’ unions and education reformers represent competing agendas—one supports the status quo, the other advocates fundamental change. But to accept this as fact, you’d have to ignore our common ground.
First of all, we believe that the goal for change is not the change itself, but to prepare all our students—in every school—for life beyond high school.
And to that end, we believe teachers matter most. The evidence confirms what we have suspected all along: Effective teaching is the most important school-based factor that impacts student achievement.
Tomorrow, Bill Gates will address the American Federation of Teachers at a gathering of its 3,500 delegates from across the country. The prospect of partnering with teachers for meaningful education reform makes this a valuable opportunity for us at the foundation.
As part of our education strategy, we are committed to putting teachers’ voices at the center of the debate and learning from great teachers about what makes them great. In 2008 and 2009, we teamed with Scholastic to survey 40,000 teachers from every state and in every grade level for their opinions on the nation’s public schools. Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on America’s Schools confirmed what we have always known to be true—teachers are fully engaged in the hard work of educating our children, they have strong ideas on how to raise student achievement, and they are vocal advocates for all students.
Last fall, we launched the Measures of Effective Teaching project to identify effective teaching, provide better feedback to teachers on their practice, and examine new professional development tools. Already, independent researchers have collected over 13,000 hours of classroom video, as well as feedback and assessments from nearly 100,000 students. More than 3,000 teachers in six school districts are participating in the project.
And last year, we announced more than $290 million in grants to four Intensive Partnership Sites—Hillsborough County, Florida; Memphis; Pittsburgh; and Los Angeles—to explore new ways to recruit, retain, and reward teachers who are producing great results in classrooms. Union representatives have been partners from the start in the Intensive Partnership Sites, collaborating with district and school leaders to develop and implement their local reform plans.
Change is difficult. But progress and growth are possible when we embrace the opportunities to collaborate on behalf of kids and agree to disagree respectfully when perspectives differ.
High Schools, Students, Teacher Effectiveness, Scholastic, Teaching Standards, Teaching, Charter Schools, Education Reform, American Federation Of Teachers (AFT), Measures of Effective Teaching (MET), Education Reform, Teachers, Classrooms, Tampa, Florida, Memphis, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, California