You are asking teachers to sign a statement backing your cause (click link below). Can you explain a little about what’s behind the declaration and why educators should be rallying behind your cause?
Educators 4 Excellence was started by teachers, for teachers because of a void that existed in the education policy debate – there was no authentic teacher voice and, as teachers, we are frustrated when the loudest voices in that debate don’t put the best interests of our students first. As educators, we know that there is nothing more important to our students’ success than the quality of our instruction, and for that reason we need a system that does everything it can to recruit, train and retain the highest quality teachers, restores professionalism to education, and puts the needs of students first. By signing onto our Declaration of Teachers’ Principles and Beliefs, educators and education supporters alike are coming together around a set of shared beliefs to say that we want what is best for our students.
You mention in your declaration that teachers need to get behind better data assessment tools and methods. Why?
In our classrooms, we use assessment and data to find our students’ strengths and weaknesses and then target our instruction accordingly. In the same way, we as educators want and need to be evaluated so that we can get the tools and resources we need to improve our teaching. Teachers need to be the creators of a fair and equitable evaluation system. It’s not about creating a “gotcha” system – it’s about improving the quality of the education that we are giving our students.
Why do you think that teachers and parents are not as well established on the education reform radar?
Teachers and parents already have so much on their plate that it is hard to find the time to sort through the plethora of information out there. E4E is a place for educators to come and get up-to-date information about the policies and policy-makers that directly affect their classrooms and students, and then get more involved in sharing their voice in the policy debate with other like-minded people.
As a teacher, I found the profession was kind of staid, and that seemed especially jarring given that teachers are supposed to inspire people to such great actions in community and society. Can you chart a way out of that?
All too often teachers get blamed for the flaws with the education system at large – it is a system that encourages complacency and provides almost no incentive to go above and beyond. Great teachers genuinely want to be pushed to do their best. We need to focus on reforming the system to give teachers the tools and motivations they need to continue to refine their craft and be great innovators and inspirations for their students.
Given impending budget cuts, and a precipitous decline for budgets for much of next year and the immediate years after, how do you think that you will be able to advocate for and win better teacher pay and more fiscal transparency?
The cuts to education that are happening nation-wide are terrifying, and right now we need to focus on making sure that excellent educators are able to stay in the classroom. In the face of these severe budget cuts, one of the issues that E4E has already been a powerful voice on is speaking out against the “Last In, First Out” laws that punish students by laying off teachers without any consideration of their quality or proven effectiveness. Educators and education supporters are taking action by asking legislators to repeal these laws by signing our petition.