Education Leaders Embrace Universal Principles to Transform Teaching Profession

By Amy Buffenbarger

Leaders from eight national education organizations signed a shared vision for the future of the teaching profession at the 2012 Labor Management Conference in Cincinnati.

The document outlines seven core elements of a transformed teaching profession:

  • A culture of shared responsibility and leadership;
  • Recruiting top talent into schools prepared for success;
  • Continuous growth and professional development;
  • Effective teachers and principals;
  • A professional career continuum with competitive compensation;
  • Conditions that support successful teaching and learning; and
  • Engaged communities

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel joined the education leaders in signing the vision document. “A truly transformed system of public education is within reach,” said Van Roekel in a statement. “By embracing the universal principles presented in the Shared Vision for The Next Generation of Teaching, we are one step closer to building a world-class education system for our students.”

In addition to Van Roekel, cosigners of the vision document include U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, National School Boards Association Executive Director Anne L. Bryant, American Association of School Administrators Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech, Council of Chief State School Officers Executive Director Gene Wilhoit, Council of the Great City Schools Executive Director Michael Casserly, and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George Cohen.

During the panel discussion following the signing, Van Roekel focused on NEA’s plan to ensure that all teachers are rigorously prepared for the challenges of the classroom.

As outlined in NEA’s Three-Point Plan for Education Reform, the first step in transforming the profession is to strengthen and maintain strong, uniform standards for teacher preparation. This includes completing a one-year residency under the supervision of a Master Teacher before earning a full license and passing a rigorous classroom-based performance assessment at the end of his or her candidacy.

The panel also addressed the importance of recruiting a high-performing and diverse pool of talent to enter the teaching profession, relating that to the need to competitively compensate the education workforce.

“We have to do everything we can to support our existing teachers and we owe it to our kids and country to attract and better retain the next generation of talent we have coming in,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The 2012 Labor Management Conference continues through Thursday, May 23 with state and school district team presentations showcasing collaborative work that is paving the way for stronger public schools and workshops designed for attendees to further explore what is needed to develop a successful plan for collaboration and results at home.

Paul Toner, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) is part of a presenting state team that includes Massachusetts’s State Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts Superintendent Executive Director Tom Scott and Paul Georges, local president of the United Teachers of Lowell.

Their presentation focuses on how collaboration has worked at the state and local level to bring about change and focus on student achievement.  Through the work on Massachusetts’s Race to the Top (RTTT) application and the current work on a new teacher evaluation system and model contract language, MTA has been a leading partner in education reform efforts in the state.

“This conference is valuable because you realize you’re not alone, you see what people are doing in other parts of the country and learn what’s working,” said Toner, who also attended last year’s Labor Management Conference. “You see people leave here and go back to their regions and states encouraging local conversations about labor-management collaboration.”