RELEASE: 40 Education Organizations Unite to Launch TeachStrong, a Campaign to Modernize and Elevate the Teaching Profession

The TeachStrong campaign brings together teachers unions, teacher voice organizations, and education reform, civil rights, and education policy leaders to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy issue of 2016.

Washington, D.C. — Forty influential education policy organizations—including teachers unions, teacher voice organizations, and education reform, civil rights, and education policy leaders—today joined together to launch the TeachStrong campaign, an effort to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy issue of 2016 and beyond.

“Though many initiatives to support teachers have been launched, it is time to make a comprehensive effort to modernize the teaching profession a national priority. Through higher standards and stronger accountability systems, policymakers have worked to lay a foundation for a better education system. But in order to ensure that our students can meet the increasing demands of a 21st-century global economy, it is imperative that policy leaders focus education policy on developing better systems for recruiting, supporting, and compensating teachers,” said Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Our education system is still organized to meet the demands of a 19th-century economy, while teachers are expected to meet modern challenges. Campaigns to recruit good teachers have been waged before—but recruiting talented people into the same weak system will never result in significant gains for students. This campaign is aimed at changing the systems in which teachers operate and is the next logical step‎ in education reform.”

“We have long championed elevating the teaching profession so that its status is comparable to the vital role teachers play in society. TeachStrong’s nine principles are an important roadmap to modernizing and professionalizing teaching, including its call for residency programs, career pathways, teacher leadership programs, higher salaries, and giving teachers the latitude to teach. The broad support for this campaign is a strong rebuke to the vilification of teachers that have hampered our profession,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

“At Teach For America, we are proud to join with our partners in the education community as part of the TeachStrong initiative. Teachers take on immense leadership every day, and as a nation, we need to elevate and modernize the profession. TeachStrong is a step in the right direction,” said Elisa Villanueva Beard, CEO at Teach For America.

“Research has shown over and over again that teachers are the greatest in-school factor to student success. Unfortunately, far too many students of color and students from low-income homes—the very students who could benefit most from excellent teachers—are less likely to be taught by our strongest, most well-supported teachers,” said Sonja Brookins Santelises, Vice President of K-12 Policy and Practice at The Education Trust. “We are proud to join with this diverse group of organizations to leverage our collective voice for action on an issue for which The Education Trust has long been an advocate.”

Uniting this diverse group of stakeholders is the fundamental belief that creating systems to attract and retain great teachers is the key to establishing an excellent and equitable education system and ensuring success for all students. The coalition recognized that our nation has never made this issue an urgent national priority. The TeachStrong coalition shares a common, ambitious vision for a society in which teachers are more valued and supported at all stages of their careers, and it seeks to amplify that vision through this campaign.

Collectively, the coalition believes that all students, especially those from low-income families, deserve to be taught by great teachers. To accomplish this goal, the coalition believes that the United States must modernize and elevate the teaching profession and strengthen the entire teacher career continuum. This will require investing in and developing policies that better recruit, prepare, support, and compensate teachers through all stages of their careers. The coalition has coalesced around nine campaign principles:

  • Identifying and recruiting more teacher candidates with great potential to succeed, with a deliberate emphasis on diversifying the teacher workforce
  • Reimagining teacher preparation to make it more rooted in classroom practice and a professional knowledge base, with universal high standards for all candidates
  • Raising the bar for licensure so it is a meaningful measure of readiness to teach
  • Increasing compensation in order to attract and reward teachers as professionals
  • Providing support for new teachers through induction or residency programs
  • Ensuring tenure is a meaningful signal of professional accomplishment
  • Providing significantly more time, tools, and support for teachers to succeed, including through planning, collaboration, and development
  • Designing professional learning to better address student and teacher needs and to foster feedback and improvement
  • Creating career pathways that give teachers opportunities to lead and grow professionally

The organizational partners in TeachStrong are: Alliance for Excellent Education, America Achieves, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Federation of Teachers, ASCD, Center for American Progress, Council of Chief State School Officers, Deans for Impact, Digital Promise, Education Post, The Education Trust, the Education Policy Program at New America, Educators 4 Excellence, Educators Rising, Emerson Collective, Hope Street Group, Knowledge Alliance, Leading Educators, Learning Forward, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Center for Teacher Residencies, National Center on Time and Learning, National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future, National Council on Teacher Quality, National Education Association, National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, National Network of State Teachers of the Year, National Women’s Law Center, New Leaders, New Teacher Center, Public Impact, Relay Graduate School of Education, Stand for Children, Teach For America, Teach Plus, Third Way, TNTP, Urban Teachers, and The VIVA Project.

The TeachStrong teacher partners include Alex Fuentes from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia; Christina Ross from City Neighbors High School in Baltimore, Maryland; Jennifer Corroy Porras from IDEA College Preparatory Donna in Donna, Texas; Jody Zepp from Long Reach High School in Columbia, Maryland; Kayleigh White from Manhattan High School in New York, New York; and Shakera Oliver from Brightwood Education Campus in Washington, D.C.

At its launch event today, the TeachStrong campaign featured keynote addresses from Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) and Gov. Jack Markell (D-DE), who discussed their efforts to elevate teaching in their states. Click here to watch video from the event. As part of the coalition kickoff, TeachStrong also launched its new website, TeachStrong.org.

For more information on this topic, contact Allison Preiss at apreiss@americanprogress.org or 202.478.6331.

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