Secretary Cardona’s Remarks at the Closing Session of the International Summit on the Teaching Profession

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Secretary Cardona’s Remarks at the Closing Session of the International Summit on the Teaching Profession

October 21, 2021

The past three days have been an engaging experience as I’ve listened and learned alongside all of you. From Canada, America’s close neighbor to the north, to our Asian colleagues in Singapore and China, to our many friends in Europe, it’s been a privilege to sit at this virtual table with all of you and our international cohosts at Education International and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

With our close partners at the American Federation of Teachers, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Education Association, the delegation from the United States has been able to roll up our sleeves and work together here in Washington, D.C

We’ve had a productive time together. Across the countries we represent, some of our educational systems are quite large and others are more compact. Some make more decisions at the national level and others are more decentralized. Education financing varies across our nations. But as we’ve seen, our common challenges outweigh our differences as we come together to learn and problem solve.  This is the power and promise of the International Summit on the Teaching Profession.

We are at a real crossroads, at a decisive moment worldwide, when we must reimagine the future of education and provide all children with the opportunity to grow and thrive. As we’ve discussed over the past few days, we cannot squander this moment by going back to the education systems we had before the pandemic. The pandemic has made inequities for students, families, educators, and communities starkly visible and, in many cases, exacerbated them. We truly need to build back better with a focus on the whole child and every student’s well-being.

For me, one of the biggest takeaways from the last few days is the importance of intentional collaboration – at all levels of the education system and with other key agencies that support student, family, and teacher well-being. We know, for example, that the pandemic reinforced how crucial health and nutrition are in supporting students’ learning and growth. Without deep, deliberate collaboration with all relevant partners, we will not be able to ensure educational equity and student success.

Andreas Schleicher’s presentation illuminated this point. He showed that high-performing education systems, with strong frontline capacity and resilience, were much better at maintaining operations even in severe disruptions caused by the pandemic. And the quality of the relationship between governments and teacher unions played a central part in this.

I’m proud that the discussions over these last couple days have centered on supporting student and educator wellbeing and advancing educational equity.  

Like all of you, the U.S. delegation has committed to working together in several key areas over the coming months and years.  Listening to all of you has helped us to hone our ISTP commitments. 

As we discussed in the previous session, the U.S. is committing to do three things.

First, we will build and sustain structures and systems that promote and enhance intentional collaboration at all levels of education and across relevant agencies to foster student success. We know that none of us can do this vital work of elevating the teaching profession and supporting our educators alone.

Second, we will promote and support schools as hubs of the community with inclusive, safe, and welcoming environments in which all students, families, and educators thrive, collaborate, create, and excel. Our schools are more than simply places to learn. They are centers of promise and potential.

Third, we will improve systems and supports that value and elevate educators as respected professionals. We understand that to do this work, we must actively support, recruit, and retain excellent educators and diversify our teaching profession.

We are all stronger when we collaborate and work together. I am personally invigorated by the conversations we’ve had over the past few days. We must do everything we can to support our teachers and to further excellence and equity for all students.  Thank you.