RELEASE: Teachers Nationwide, Leading Education Groups Join for First TeachStrong Tele-Town Hall

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. — Earlier this week, teachers and education leaders joined a national tele-town hall supporting the TeachStrong campaign—a broad national effort of more than 55 leading education groups to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy issue of 2016. More than 1,100 teachers, former teachers, and administrators participated in the live tele-town hall, with participants joining from across the country.

The tele-town hall was moderated by Steve Wojcikiewicz, vice president of policy at Deans for Impact, and included a panel that featured Alexandra Fuentes, Teach Plus teacher-in-residence, Knowles Science Foundation teaching fellow, and biology teacher at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia; Lisette Partelow, Director of Teacher Policy at the Center for American Progress; Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, assistant to the president for educational issues at the American Federation of Teachers; and Michele McLaughlin, president at Knowledge Alliance.

Panelists took questions from callers, while Wojcikiewicz guided the discussion about ways that national leaders can prioritize policies that elevate the teaching profession. Participants also learned how they could get involved with the TeachStrong campaign and were encouraged to sign the TeachStrong petition.

“We’re seeing the national conversation move away from assessment and more on teaching and learning. This campaign is designed to highlight that,” said McLaughlin. “Grassroots is how change happens, which is why we value the work of teachers on the ground. At the national level, we’re trying to get presidential candidates even talking about this. We have such a diverse group of organizations involved in this effort. As a teacher, a parent, and a citizen, I want to see the conversation shift and to see teachers valued as a society. To do that, we all have to make it a priority.”

“TeachStrong is evidence that the tide is starting to turn with less polarization,” said Ucelli-Kashyap. “Even if we’re not all on the same page on everything, we’re on the same page for this.”

“Bottom line is, if teachers were more respected, we’d get the best teachers to come in and stay in our classrooms,” said Fuentes. “What’s exciting about TeachStrong is you have all of these organizations coming together to do something, to start to elevate the teaching profession.”

“We’re excited about the success of TeachStrong so far,” said Partelow. “We had two governors at the launch in D.C., a Republican and a Democrat. It showed this is really a bipartisan effort. We have 57 partner organizations from across the country and ideological spectrum. We’re also recruiting TeachStrong Ambassadors to help us create policy recommendations.”

Additionally, participants were asked questions throughout the call that they could respond to using the keypads on their phones. Questions included:

  • As an educator, do you feel that the systems designed to support you are working very effectively, working somewhat effectively, mostly not working effectively, or not working effectively at all?
    • Seventy percent of participants said that the systems are mostly or not at all working effectively.
  • What is the single best way elected leaders could help classroom teachers?
    • Sixty-two percent of participants selected the answer, “improve the systems designed to support teachers.”

The organizational partners in TeachStrong are: Albert Shanker Institute, Alliance for Excellent Education, America Achieves, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Federation of Teachers, ASCD, Bank Street College of Education, Center for American Progress, Council of Chief State School Officers, Clayton Christensen Institute, Center on the Future of American Education, Deans for Impact, Democrats for Education Reform, Digital Promise, Education Post, EducationCounsel, Education Reform Now, The Education Trust, the Education Policy Program at New America, Educators 4 Excellence, Educators Rising, Emerson Collective, Generation Schools Network, Hope Street Group, Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, Knowledge Alliance, Leading Educators, Learning Forward, Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, National Association for the Education of Young Children, 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, National Writing Project, New Leaders, New Teacher Center, Public Impact, Relay Graduate School of Education, Southern Education Foundation, Stand for Children, Teach For America, Teaching Matters, Teach Plus, The Teacher Salary Project, TESOL International Association, Third Way, TNTP, Urban Teachers, and The VIVA Project, The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation.

The TeachStrong teacher partners include Alexandra 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.

More information about the campaign can be found at TeachStrong.org.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact .

This release is sent by the Center for American Progress, a coalition partner to TeachStrong. The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”