Tuesday, December 15, 2009

NEA Foundation’s Institute for Local Innovation in Teaching & Learning Plan Awarded $358K from Gates

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

WASHINGTON, DC – The NEA Foundation announced today a $358,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to plan the creation of the Institute for Local Innovation in Teaching and Learning.  The Institute will serve as a capacity-building engine for collaboration and reform between education unions and their school districts.

The Institute will be designed to engage a cohort of local union and district leaders in a three-year 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.

Over the course of the next six months, the NEA Foundation will work to create a collaborative architecture for the Institute; complete an initial scan to identify 30 potential local unions and partner school districts; design the content, process, and program evaluation for the first cohort; and develop a fundraising strategy and launch.

“Our plan capitalizes on a growing movement among education unions that are 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. “It also builds on knowledge gained from existing, research-based body of work, the Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative. With financial support from the Gates Foundation, we believe we can build on this collaborative model and disseminate knowledge gained.”

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.

“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.”

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Teacher Union Reform Network

TURN is a network of NEA and AFT locals. Leaders of the TURN locals assemble three times per year to discuss and explore issues related to education reform and the role of teacher unions in advancing the cause of public education. Visit http://www.turnexchange.net for more information.

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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