NEA Announces National, Independent Commission on Teacher Quality
By Michelle Hudgins
Saying there is a fundamental need to shake up the nation’s thinking on quality teaching, the NEA this past week announced that it is creating a national, independent commission to study the teaching profession and make recommendations on maximizing teacher and teaching effectiveness.
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel first spoke about plans for the commission during his keynote address at the NEA’s 2010 Representative Assembly in New Orleans. The new Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching will draw on the experience of 21 accomplished teachers — supported by researchers, policymakers and academicians — who will examine the policies and practices governing the teaching profession.
Their goal? Craft a new teacher-centered vision of teaching and the teaching profession.
The best way to bring about real transformation is to “get the perspective of professional educators who are recognized for their innovation and accomplishments in the classroom,” Van Roekel said. “Our hope is that this commission will not only focus on the professional practices that make a difference in student learning but also address the critical issues facing the future of the profession. NEA is dedicating significant resources and staff to support the commission’s work because we recognize the significance of this task.”
Chaired by Madaline “Maddie” Fennel, 2007 Nebraska Teacher of the Year and fourth-grade teacher from Omaha, Neb., the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching is charged with accomplishing work in four areas:
- Analyzing existing standards, definitions, policies and practices related to teacher effectiveness and effective teaching and developing a teachers’ definition of an effective teacher and effective teaching.
- Crafting a new vision of a teaching profession that is led by teachers and ensures teacher and teaching effectiveness.
- Developing a comprehensive set of recommendations for the National Education Association about the union’s role in advancing and promoting teacher effectiveness and the teaching profession.
- Developing a comprehensive set of recommendations for education leaders and policymakers about the future of the teaching profession and the role of teachers in governing it.
The commission will meet four to six times over the next year and conduct public hearings to gather input on topics of interest to the panel. Individual members of the commission will work on various committees and activities in order to accomplish the goal of delivering preliminary recommendations to the 2011 NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago.
Commission members will solicit feedback from NEA members and deliver a final report to the public in the fall of 2011. NEA will use the recommendations to examine the Association’s policies and long-term vision for teaching.
Van Roekel believes the current policies and processes that govern our profession do little to support teachers or students today.
“Those with little understanding about student learning or the teaching profession have been allowed to establish programs, set standards and shape policies that impact teaching and learning,” he said. “Absent a new approach to teacher policy, it is unrealistic to expect schools and teachers to prepare all students with the skills and knowledge necessary for the 21st century and beyond.”
Supporting the work of the Commission is one of many steps the NEA is taking to help transform the profession and give teachers greater authority over their profession, the quality of teaching and quality of public schools.