Education Leaders to Meet for International Summit on Teaching

Education leaders from around the world are gathering in New York City next month to shine a spotlight on the critical role teachers play in successful schools. The occasion is the first International Summit on the Teaching Profession and will convene on March 16-17.

The National Education Association will be co-hosting the event with Education International (EI), the Department of Education, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the American Federation of Teachers, the Asia Society and public television station WNET.

Participants will include U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, education ministers and unions from the some of the highest-performing nations (as measured by the 2009 PISA results), and top educators.

Organizers hope the March summit will be the first step in an ongoing international dialogue on developing a strong and effective teaching force.

“This really is a historic event,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “For two days, we’ll have the leading education experts from around the world in one room, sharing proven and effective strategies on recruiting, training and empowering great teachers.”

Collaboration between teacher unions and government, Van Roekel pointed out, has been a pillar in the educational success many of these countries have experienced in recent years.

“An exchange of ideas with representatives from these highest-performing nations can only help the United States as we move ahead with our own efforts to boost student achievement and transform schools.”

Secretary of Education Duncan agrees the United States has a great deal to learn from other countries and says his department will compile the strategies and make them public in the weeks following the summit.

“When it comes to teaching, talent matters considerably,” Duncan said. “But great teachers are not just born that way – it takes a high quality system for recruiting, training, retaining, and supporting teachers over the course of their careers to develop an effective teaching force. This summit is a tremendous opportunity to learn from one another the best methods worldwide to address our common challenges.”

Teachers must be treated as equal partners with governments in any effort to build and sustain true education reform, noted EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.

“The summit represents a unique opportunity for teachers and their unions globally to consider the future of their profession,” Van Leeuwen said. “Qualified teachers are vital to the health and success of all our societies. Their input and status are vital to advancing the fight to achieve high quality education for all.”