Tuesday, February 2, 2010

GE Foundation Awards $1M to Fund NEA Foundation’s Institute for Local Innovation in Teaching & Learning

Collaborative Effort between Local Unions and School Districts to Engage in Deep, Systemic Reform

WASHINGTON, DC – The NEA Foundation announced today that it has received a $1 million, two-year grant from the GE Foundation to support the launch of the NEA Foundation’s Institute for Local Innovation in Teaching and Learning. The Institute, which is also funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will serve as a capacity-building engine for collaboration and reform between education unions and their school districts.

“Our plan capitalizes on a growing movement among education unions seeking to re-position their locals to engage in innovative reform in partnership with their school districts,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “With financial support from the GE Foundation, we believe we can advance best practices that will elevate the profession and accelerate student achievement.”

Some local unions, Sanford added, have already collaborated with districts on human capital practices, including the creation of performance evaluations, peer assistance and review programs, new induction and professional development models, differentiated compensation, and innovations in school design and governance. The Institute will now allow the development of a system to ensure that this work is deepened, shared more broadly, and sustained.

“The GE Foundation supports high-impact initiatives that improve access to, and the equity and quality of, public education. We chose to support the NEA Foundation’s Institute because it mirrors our on-the-ground, collaborative, research-based, results-driven approach,” said Bob Corcoran, President of the GE Foundation. “We believe the Institute offers a unique opportunity to extend this approach through a new infrastructure to grow a national network of teacher leaders and to help them develop and share workable models of reform and best practices to transform public education and lift student achievement.”

The Institute will be designed to engage local union and district leaders in a capacity-building process that will lead to significant, measurable changes in collective bargaining agreements and in teaching and learning, including new approaches to the management of human capital and new ways of measuring student learning. By modeling successful new practices with their school districts, these local union leaders also will become catalysts for cultural and organizational change.

“So many of our union leaders, particularly entities involved in the Teachers Union Reform Network (TURN), have been working in isolation to address the complex issues relating to improving student achievement. Union leaders have been searching for help and support as they tackle the tough work in their local communities of improving teacher appraisal systems, teacher effectiveness, attracting and retaining teachers and removing time-honored policies and practices that impede schools from implementing a change agenda,” said Mary McDonald, Core Service Director, Consortium for Educational Change, a TURN member, and a planning partner.  “The NEA Foundation’s Institute for Local Innovation in Teaching and Learning will provide an opportunity for local leaders to address these challenges together – learning from and building upon each other’s efforts to improve our teaching profession in every community.”

“We believe in the power of collaboration to strengthen public education’s human capital in its critical and unparalleled role to improve student achievement,” Sanford concluded. “Teachers represent the most important school-related factor in student achievement, and leadership is second only to teaching in determining how much students learn.  Without addressing the knowledge and skills of teachers and school leaders, school systems and educator associations cannot hope to close achievement gaps.”



About The NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation is a public charity supported by contributions from educators' dues, corporate sponsors, and others who support public education initiatives.We partner with education unions, districts, and communities to create powerful, sustainable improvements in teaching and learning. Visit www.neafoundation.org for more information. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our blog.

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