March 3, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Scholastic/Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Survey of Teachers
Scholastic Inc. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released survey results of more than 40,000 teachers in grades pre-K through 12, who gave their views on education reform.
WASHINGTON— This survey documents that teachers have a real world knowledge of the challenges in helping students achieve their full potential and have a real world understanding of how we can most effectively meet the needs of students. The survey results are significant and come at a time when there is far too much scapegoating of teachers by those who ought to know better.
Teachers are willing to go the extra mile to help students succeed, but they need tools, time, trust and support to do their jobs well. As the survey shows, teachers know better than most what students need and feel strongly that they must be a real partner with school leadership in designing improvement plans. To make genuine education progress, teachers say there needs to be strong and supportive school leadership; common standards across the states; multiple ways to measure both teachers’ teaching and student learning, including standardized tests and growth of student progress; and a bridge between the school and children’s homes to raise student achievement.
Teachers strongly indicated that most current teacher evaluation methods do not provide accurate assessments and are unhelpful to retain quality teachers. Importantly, the survey found that nearly all teachers say that non-monetary rewards, such as supportive leadership and collaborative working environments, are the most important factors to retaining good teachers; just 8 percent said pay-for-performance plans are absolutely essential. This may work in the business world but will have the opposite effect in education.
The common factor in school districts that have successful reform programs is a respectful partnership between school management and teachers. Collaboration, not conflict, is in the best interest of students, teachers, parents and the community.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.