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Letter to Members of the Senate HELP Committee on School Turnaround

April 12, 2010

Dear Senator:


The National Education Association, representing 3.2 million educators across the nation, would like to share with you the enclosed materials in advance of tomorrow’s hearing in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on ESEA Reauthorization: School Turnaround.

Attached for your information and use are:

  • Selected highlights of successful school transformation programs, and
  • Selected links to videos highlighting successful school transformations.

NEA believes that ensuring success for all students requires all the adults involved in public education working together collaboratively and making decisions based on common understandings and agreements.  Too many students in high poverty communities attend chronically underfunded, understaffed, and unsupported schools.  They must try to learn in buildings badly needing repair and often environmentally hazardous.  Teachers working in these schools are often the most inexperienced and too often the least prepared.  Great teachers and support professionals — with the right policy supports and resources — are the ideal agents of permanent change for these schools.

The Administration has proposed limiting School Improvement Grant turnaround models to four — three of which (Turnaround, Restart, and Closure) are problematic, if not completely unworkable, in many cases, especially in rural areas.  NEA only supports the Transformation model -- the only fully collaborative model that gives all stakeholders in public education an opportunity to change the system.  We support this model because we know it works, and our members have seen real results for students. 

NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign focuses resources on school transformation involving educators, communities and policymakers; collaboration on innovative programs to measure student success and teacher quality, and attracting and keeping the best educators and necessary resources for schools with the greatest needs.  Successful and innovative models of public education are already happening around the country; models based on partnerships between government, parent and community organizations, education unions, and businesses and foundations.

We will be forwarding additional information in the coming days. More information about educator-led, union-involved school transformation is also available at www.neapriorityschools.org

Thank you for your attention to this important information.

Sincerely,

Kim Anderson 
Director of Government Relations