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Education Department plan reflects spirit of NEA’s 3-Point Plan to improve the profession

Teachers trumpet collaboration as key to secretary’s new proposal


WASHINGTON - February 15, 2012 -

National Education Association leaders believe a new Department of Education proposal is a promising proposition toward improving the teaching profession. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has launched RESPECT (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching), a proposal that challenges states and districts to work with teachers and their unions to support and improve the teaching profession. In December of 2011, NEA announced its own aggressive agenda for transforming the profession called NEA’s Three-Point Plan for Education Reform.

“Recruiting talented candidates and providing substantive, high-quality preparation is essential in ensuring quality schools,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  “This proposal represents a critical first-step in ensuring that all students have access to a range of high-quality resources, including qualified and licensed teachers who are empowered to innovate and inspired to take on ever-growing challenges. We are particularly pleased that others beyond our organization are beginning to acknowledge the comprehensive set of supports that schools need to improve and to recognize that there is no ‘silver-bullet’ when it comes to transforming schools.” 

RESPECT includes support for career pathways and expanded teacher leadership roles; including professional development and time for collaboration, as well as greater autonomy. “We believe strongly that the systemic approach outlined in RESPECT represents the kind of thinking that’s going to improve our public schools, making them all exceptional institutions of learning for all students,” Van Roekel said. “When we talk about reforming schools, we must extend the conversation beyond excellence. We must address the issue of equity. Then we can begin to change what our schools look like and how they effectively serve all students.”

The RESPECT plan and NEA’s Three-Point Plan both call for more rigorous standards for entry into the profession, as well as for developing systems that help ensure that those who are in the classroom maintain a high standard of practice. Together they set the stage for establishing a world-class teaching force that puts student learning at its core and is focused on helping students acquire the knowledge and skills they will need to thrive as 21st century citizens. It takes more than teachers to support students, including strong instructional school leaders and qualified and committed educational support professionals.

“It’s encouraging to me that educators and the Administration are moving in the same direction with the same range of goals for transforming our schools. NEA cannot do this alone and we applaud the Administration for stepping up and offering its own agenda for change,” said Van Roekel. “By focusing on teacher quality at the front door of the profession, increasing professional development and keeping student learning central to all that we do, we can implement great change for our students. We look forward to working with the Administration, lawmakers, parents and anyone else who is ready, willing and able to start working now to do what it takes to provide resources, support to our educators, students and schools.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Michelle Hudgins  (202)822-7823, mhudgins@nea.org