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NEA commits $6 million to support quality teaching in high-needs schools

Union launches “Turn Around Initiative” to improve schools

WASHINGTON - September 03, 2009 -

As school bells ring across the country signaling the start of another school year, many districts struggle to fill thousands of classroom vacancies.  High poverty, high need schools have failed to effectively recruit and support a stable and quality staff.  The National Education Association (NEA) contends that solutions are at hand if policymakers, parents, and teachers themselves promote thoughtful and comprehensive strategies to address working conditions, school leadership, and teacher quality. That belief has prompted the NEA in partnership with the Center for Teaching Quality to  release,“Children of Poverty Deserve Great Teachers: One Union’s Commitment to Changing the Status Quo,”  a report that highlights what is needed to identify and develop teachers and to recruit and retain them for high-needs classrooms.

Part of NEA’s “Turn Around for Great Public Schools Initiative,” The Children of Poverty report summarizes NEA’s commitment to principled changes in the status quo — signaling its determination to break ground for new teaching policy and strategic partnerships. The initiative includes an investment of $1 million per year over six years to develop comprehensive strategies and policies to increase teacher effectiveness in high-needs schools.

“Every day, across this country countless dedicated, talented teachers and support professionals report to work knowing they will face students with a sobering array of social and economic disadvantages,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “If we expect to transform our public schools we must take action now. Great teachers, with the right policy supports, are the ideal agents of meaningful and sustainable change in our most challenged schools.” 

Children of Poverty presents solid, proven strategies and policy recommendations that can make a difference for students. It advocates for credible and consistent evaluation processes that could transcend current debates about the role of tenure in the teacher development system.  It also offers solutions to recruiting, preparing, supporting, and compensating teachers for high-needs schools.

“This report is unique in that it is based on both sound research evidence and the wisdom of America’s best teachers,” said Barnett Berry, author of the report. “Recruiting talented people to teaching alone will not turnaround low performing schools. We need to prepare and support them well and reward great teachers for spreading their expertise.”

NEA has worked with more than 2,000 of the nation’s best teachers who told us what will attract and keep our most effective teachers in our most challenging schools:

. Good principals who both know how to lead and support teacher leadership;
. A commitment to creative teaching and inquiry learning, not scripted instruction;
. The opportunity to team with a critical mass of highly-skilled teachers who share
. responsibility for every student’s success;
. Improved working conditions.

The report highlights NEA’s commitments to ensure great teachers are in every classroom. NEA’s commitments include: 

. Launching a recruitment outreach campaign; 
. Leading mentoring and training programs; 
. Supporting National Board Certification;
. Providing resources and strategies to local unions working with districts to provide increased flexibility in
   staffing high need schools.

Van Roekel went on to say, “If we are committed to the future of our students, we must start with assuring access to the highest-quality teaching in all schools today. This initiative is NEA’s first step. State and local education leaders must join us as we work toward the goal of improving schools for all students. ”

The Children of Poverty report is available online, click the report title to access.
To learn about NEA’s vision for Great Public Schools by 2020 visit

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 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,