What Does Sustainable Education Reform Look Like?
By Amy Buffenbarger
Last December, NEA laid out its Leading the Profession Action Agenda, incorporating proven best practices in education from thousands of teachers around the country and input from the independent Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching, created by NEA in 2010 to examine the teaching profession and make recommendations on maximizing teacher and teaching effectiveness. This year, NEA expanded that vision by introducing five domains of education quality: the quality of the professional, the profession, the schools, education policy and the union.
So what does all that look like in practice? In Marysville, Washington, educators in three schools supported by NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign (PSC) are planting the seeds for sustainable education reform in their district.
Solutions Unique to the School, Students and Community
The Marysville School District is located 35 miles north of Seattle, Washington and includes the Tulalip Indian Reservation. Two schools in the district, Totem Middle School and Tulalip Elementary School, received School Improvement Grants beginning in the 2010-2011 school year. In February 2011, Quil Ceda Elementary received a second round School Improvement Grant and merged campuses with Tulalip for the 2011-2012 school year. Both elementary schools are on the Tulalip Indian Reservation.
Sixty-three percent of students at Quil Ceda and Tulalip are American Indian, and a high majority of students receive free or reduced-price lunch.
A students drums during Quil Ceda and Tulalip’s daily cultural assembly. Photo: Ellen Banner
“Our biggest challenges are not academic, but whole child issues,” said Chelsea Craig, a 2nd grade teacher at Quil Ceda and Tulalip, and certified Tulalip Tribal Member. “Many of our students are facing family challenges both from generational oppression and poverty that affect behavior in a way that a traditional classroom can not address alone.”