January 11, 2012
"How much more evidence and time will it take until U.S. schools do what works to improve teaching and learning?" asks AFT President Randi Weingarten.
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Education Week's Quality Counts Report: Education in a Competitive World
WASHINGTON—How much more evidence and time will it take until U.S. schools do what works to improve teaching and learning? This report points out the shared traits among the top-performing nations and highlights the similar reforms among top-tier states that are raising teacher quality and student achievement. We need to build school systems and education reforms based on the full range of programs and policies that are working, not just pick out one or two items as if from a cafeteria menu.
Top-performing countries like Finland and Singapore place a high priority on recruiting and retaining talented teachers, investing in teacher preparation and continuous improvement, and respecting teachers' input. Maryland—the report's top-ranked state—provides supports and professional development for all teachers, incentives for working in hard-to-staff schools and competitive salaries. And as Canada, Cincinnati and other areas have seen, community-based services in schools help level the playing field for disadvantaged students. Further, as we have seen in our work in many U.S. school districts, collaboration based on shared responsibility is crucial to improving teacher and student success.
The report notes that the impact of the U.S. economic downturn has affected states' efforts to support and develop teaching talent. Students need a great education now, and they can't wait until the economy gets over the downturn. The economy and education are intertwined; neither can be strong when the other is weak.
Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten: http://twitter.com/#!/rweingarten
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The AFT represents 1.5 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.