Promoting Ideas That Are Good for Kids and Fair to Teachers
Weingarten, Randi, American Teacher
THIS TIME OF YEAR is one of new beginnings for students and educators. It marks a milestone and a new beginning for me, as well. I have just completed my flrstyear as president of the American Federation of Teachers and recently resigned from my "other" job, as president of AFT's New York City affiliate, so that I can focus full time on the issues affecting our members and their students. I will be working with our leaders and members around the country to put in place the programs, policies and innovative ideas that can help all students receive the education each of us would want for our own children.
This is the work that a forward-looking union should be doing: promoting proven programs and promising ideas that are good for kids and fair to teachers. We should not allow critics who demonize teachers and their unions to divert our time, energy and resources from our important work, and to entangle us in responding to their endless attacks.
Critics of teachers unions claim that we care only about adults and not the children our members teach every day. They claim that teacher voice - represented through collective bargaining - is an impediment to, not a catalyst for, excellence.
But we know that teacher voice is essential to school improvement. Frontline teachers and other school staff have the best sense of what works- and what does not- in education. And we know that educators alone cannot ensure student success- classroom experience and community support are both vitally important.
Collaboration must be the byword of education policy. President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have said that education reform should be done with teachers and not to them. Collaboration can take many forms. In New York, mayoral control has been effective. In other cities, collaboration doesn't center on mayoral input. The ABC Unified School District in Los Angeles County is a fine example ofthat.
We also have to find fair and informative ways to evaluate teachers rather than relying on the most unreliable measure of student learning: standardized tests.
Evaluations should have meaning, both for the teacher and the principal conducting them. Unfortunately, teacher evaluation often means a principal observes a teacher for about 10 minutes once or twice a year. These drive-by evaluations in no way provide a true picture of how …
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Publication information: Article title: Promoting Ideas That Are Good for Kids and Fair to Teachers. Contributors: Weingarten, Randi - Author. Magazine title: American Teacher. Volume: 94. Issue: 1 Publication date: September 2009. Page number: 1. © American Federation of Teachers Feb 2009. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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