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Teacher Quality Forum Panelists: Educators Must Be Heard

Panelists at the Teacher Quality Briefing at the NEA Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Photo by Kevin Lock/NEA

Teacher quality will be the focus of impending debate on reauthorization of the ESEA Act
 

July 3, 2010

By Michelle Hudgins and Cynthia McCabe

Teacher quality will be the focus of impending debate on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but educators must be heard on the issue, said panelists at a forum here yesterday.

At the Trends In Teacher Quality: Are We Headed In The Wrong Direction? forum, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel and Executive Director John Wilson challenged educators to become leaders in their schools and districts.

“Teacher quality is at the center of education policy debates,” said Segun Eubanks, director of NEA’s Teacher Quality department and moderator for the panel discussion. “But whether policy will support teachers and their profession—or blame them for public schools' failings—remains to be seen.”

And what role does NEA intend to play? The Association is working with members and state affiliates to identify critical issues surrounding teacher effectiveness, evaluation and professional learning and they're using that information when discussing education reform with the Obama administration, Eubanks said. They're also encouraging NEA members to talk to their elected officials about what they feel will help fulfill the promise of quality public education for every student.

Panelists included Dr. Mary Hatwood-Futrell, former dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University, Dr. Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York, and Andy Coons, National Board Certified Teacher and technology facilitator from the Tacoma (Washington) school district.

Hatwood-Futrell, an internationally recognized expert in teacher preparation and education reform, reinforced NEA’s call for teachers to become professional activists.

“Teachers need to be taught to be leaders, not just in their classrooms, but also in their schools and districts," Futrell said. "In accepting the role as leaders, teachers should not only look at and identify problems, they should commit to being part of the team that is looking for solutions. It's then that we will begin to see a change in the teaching and learning environment.”

“NEA is committed to teacher quality reform and to supporting and redefining teacher effectiveness,” NEA’s Eubanks said in closing the session. “This reform will be successful only when teachers —not bureaucrats or politicians— are at the center of teacher development and accountability policy.”

Eubanks noted afterward that it was significant to hear the panelists talk about the importance of collaboration among state and local education associations, K-12 districts and universities.

“There was an overarching recognition that NEA is well-positioned to lead these collaborative K-20 relationships,” Eubanks said.

Learn more about NEA’s positions on teacher preparation, assessment and evaluation on nea.org.

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