Education reform is complicated, messy and often controversial. Even in this context, everyone agrees that all students, regardless of circumstance or background, should have access to excellent teachers. Our disagreements arise, however, when it comes to how we can make equitable access a reality.
Money, time and energy are limited - so where should our priorities lie? If we can only make a few changes to improve teaching, which ones should they be? What changes can we enact right away and what are the long-term changes we should consider? What can we do at the school or community level and what needs to be worked out in state or federal policy? The issue also brings to bear complex and sometimes uncomfortable questions about the teaching profession - what is effective teaching and how do we measure it? Are there underlying issues about preparation, support, compensation and retention that we must address?
These are questions that states and districts are going to have to reckon with quickly. The U.S. Department of Education has asked each state to analyze their data and engage teachers, principals, districts, parents and community organizations on plans that include locally-developed solutions to ensure every student has effective educators. States must submit these plans by June 2015.
Engaging these stakeholders in a meaningful way on this complex issue is a tall order. To that end, we've developed a discussion guide to help educators, administrators and other school and district employees sort through educator equity in a non-ideological way and reach common ground on the best approach for their context.
This new Choicework guide presents 3 approaches to the question, "How Can We Ensure That All Students Have Excellent Educators?":
- Give our best teachers a real incentive to work where they are most needed
- Give teachers better working conditions and more support
- Rethink the teaching profession and make fundamental changes
The guide lays out specific policy proposals related to these approaches, along with benefits and trade-offs often associated with each. The aim is not to confine discussion to these 3 choices or suggest that anyone should endorse any of the 3 strategies as is. Rather, the guide helps people think more broadly and critically about what can and should be done to promote and support effective teaching.
The guide can be used in informal discussions or more formal, focus-group style dialogue. The insights from these focus groups can inform policies and procedures around educator equity. Specifically:
If you'd like to use this guide to foster discussion and/or gather insights in your school or district but are unsure of where to begin, start by contacting us! Send an email to Susan, our director of public engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.