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NEA Announces “New Action Agenda”

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Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association, will announce a “new action agenda” Thursday morning around teacher education, professional development, and evaluation.

You can read the full report that he’s releasing,Transforming Teaching: Connecting Professional Responsibility With Student Learning.

The teacher ed recommendations make sense to me. I’m assuming that most college-based programs already have the requirements that are being suggested (though I might very well be wrong in that assessment), including a full year of student teaching and a rigorous performance assessment, and that it’s primarily designed as a critique (and a justifiable one) of alternative certification programs and Teach For America (see The Best Posts & Articles Raising Concerns About Teach For America).

The professional development recommendations (developing new leadership roles for teachers) seem very similar to the “Teacherpreneur” concept being promoted by my colleagues at The Teacher Leaders Network and The Center For Teaching Quality. I’m interested in hearing from them if I’m correct in that observation. You can read more about “teacherpreneurship” at:

The Coming Age of the Teacherpreneur

What the Heck is a ‘Teacherpreneur’?

Teacherpreneurs: A More Powerful Vision For The Teaching Profession

I found the proposals around teacher evaluation particularly interesting. It emphasizes the idea of Peer Assistance and Review, known as PAR. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve read about how that works in different communities, and have included links to related resources at The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments, including:

Helping Teachers Help Themselves, The New York Times

Praise For Peer Evaluations

I’m assuming many so-called “school reformers” will immediately criticize the report as “too little, too late,” but most would say the same no matter what the union proposed.

I don’t feel that I’m knowledgeable enough to make an accurate assessment of what kind of impact these proposals might have in the national educational policy debate. It does seem to me, though, that its push for new teacher leadership roles and coming down so strongly on the idea of PAR as an evaluation strategy might provide an important new push for both of those important ideas. If a critical mass of locals coalesce around them, they might make for an effective counter-weight to attacks on teachers. And, most importantly, if we can incorporate them into contracts, then students and their families, along with teachers and our entire communities, stand to benefit.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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