Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The NEA Foundation Grows its Support for Union and District Leaders’ Collaboration to Improve Student Learning

Outstanding records of achievement qualify five teams for the NEA Foundation Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning

WASHINGTON, DC (August 22, 2012) –  The NEA Foundation has selected five new teams led by teacher union presidents and superintendents from across the country to join the second cohort of the NEA Foundation Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, a national effort to address challenges facing public education. The new teams hail from: San Juan Unified, CA; Jefferson County Public Schools, CO; Escambia Public Schools, FL: Fayette County Public Schools, KY; Oregon City Public Schools, OR.

The teams will participate in a two-year program, becoming part of a network of collaborative teams tackling some of the most pressing issues in public education, such as the creation of a strategic compensation plan and engaging and motivating teachers to be the drivers of their individual and collective professional growth through the design of comprehensive development systems— including career ladders.

“We welcome these teams and feel confident in their capacity and joint commitment to lead the profession through the design of strong reform programs,” said NEA Foundation President & CEO Harriet Sanford. “The Institute will provide opportunities for them to engage in a partnership to change teaching and learning in their communities, and ultimately, improve the opportunities of their students.”

Teams were competitively selected based on applications co-authored by teacher union presidents and superintendents demonstrating their ability to address difficult issues of systems change and collaborative reform, with a sense of urgency and focus. Sanford said the Foundation also sought to develop a cohort whose actions plans would reflect a diverse set of issues, increasing what it will learn from these sites’ experiences in order to share with the field.

Founded on the belief that good instructional practices will have the greatest impact on student learning, the Institute was formally launched in 2010. The first cohort includes union/administrative teams from: School District U-46 (Elgin), IL; Peoria Public Schools, IL; Springfield Public Schools (District 816), IL; Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville), KY; Cambridge Public Schools, MA; Montgomery County Public Schools, MD; Portland Public Schools, ME; Columbus Public Schools, OH; Fond du Lac School District, WI; and Milwaukee Public Schools, WI.

Together, they are addressing complex issues of teacher commitment to higher performance standards and training for evaluators and peers, while also implementing comprehensive evaluation systems, such as Peer Assistance and Review (PAR).

Each of the Institute’s inaugural cohort of teams identified issues most critical to their students and communities. The Institute supports the local work in several ways. Staff and coaches provide technical assistance and data-based feedback to the teams, in support of their joint reform work. Learning resources, including curricula addressing the context of educational reform, new forms of labor-management relations, and educational equity for all students are also provided to help build knowledge and capacity.

Powerful examples of the Institute’s impact appear in Fond du Lac, WI, where the joint team actively works with groups like the Boys and Girls Club to engage low-income students in meaningful community activities. In Montgomery County, MD, the joint team, including a representative of higher education and teacher training, developed a graduate certificate in teaching for equity and social justice. The first group of students completed four courses and reported improvement in their practice as a direct result.

“We truly believe that it will be through this kind of deep collaborative work that we will see the changes required to prepare every child for college and career,” Sanford said.

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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 for more information. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our blog.

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