December 13, 2011
NEA as Reformer?
The national NEA's Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching published a report, "Transforming Teaching: Connecting Professional Responsibility with Student Learning," (PDF) that lays out their vision for modernizing and reforming the teaching profession.
The Commission laid out three guiding principles upon which the teaching profession should be based: Student learning is at the center of everything a teacher does; Teachers take primary responsibility for student learning; Effective teachers share in the responsibility for teacher selection, evaluation, and dismissal. It recommends a better system of teacher development (including reforming teacher certification programs), the creation of National Teaching Standards, peer-review based teacher evaluations, and they even recommend an end to the traditional step-contract. As Rick Hess (a member of the advisory committee, incidentally) says, these ideas and proposals are all well and good, but:
And what will the NEA actually do with its big report? Will the locals and state affiliates that drive the NEA take the effort seriously, or will it gather cyber-dust on the cyber-shelf? Is the national NEA serious about any of this, or is just an effort to deflect criticism and slow down the push for policies designed to reshape teacher evaluation or pay? How many teachers does it expect to actually be moved out of the profession under peer review? How seriously should we take its talk about removing licensure barriers or closing down lousy teacher prep programs?We'll see.