Elevating the Teaching Profession

“It’s time, once and for all, to make teaching the revered profession it should be,” Secretary Arne Duncan writes in the current issues of “NEA Today” and AFT’s “American Educator.”

It’s not a new idea. Al Shanker called for strengthening the teaching profession 25 years ago. So did John Kennedy 50 years ago.

Why hasn’t it happened? Duncan points to an array of roadblocks—current approaches to teacher preparation, compensation, evaluation, promotion, professional development, tenure, and the “factory model” of education.

“Teachers want to challenge the status quo,” Duncan says, “and they want to be treated as skilled professionals.” And teacher union leaders are “courageously and candidly speaking out” and “challenging the status quo.” Both NEA and AFT are supporting initiatives that can help.

“No area of the teaching profession is more plainly broken today than that of teacher evaluation and professional development,” Duncan says. The Obama administration is pressing for “far reaching changes” in these two areas through key federal programs—Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and Title I and IDEA funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“Our guiding principle,” Duncan says, “is simply that teachers should be treated as professionals: they should have the support, tools, and opportunities to perform at their full potential by having timely and accurate data about their students to inform instruction; they should time to consult and collaborate with their peers; and they should be evaluated, compensated, and advanced based in part on student learning. Student growth and gain…are what we are most interested in….”

See the full article, “Elevating the Teaching Profession,” at http://www.neatodayaction.org/2009/12/09/elevating-the-teaching-profession/ and http://www.aft.org/pubs-reports/american_educator/issues/winter09_10/duncan.pdf.