Monday, January 30, 2012

Teachers Take the Helm of Local School Reform

E4E's Exec Dir in LA on the new teacher contract there:


There was very little fanfare about a landmark change to the teacher's contract in Los Angeles. This was because the contractual change wasn't decidedly pro-union or pro-district. Instead, it was pro-teacher.
After months of rancorous debate, the union and district put forth a resolution that gives teachers unprecedented control over the fate of their schools. The agreement essentially reverses a top-down approach to reform, giving individual schools local power over matters such as redesigning their governance, tailoring union contracts, lengthening the school day or making curricular decisions that lift student achievement. In doing so, the union and district made a bold statement -- teachers and administrators are most qualified to transform their schools.
Leading up to the vote, there was concern from both unionists and reformers who felt their sides were losing something. Charter school advocates worried that the change would halt the momentum of Public School Choice, a program where district schools and charter organizations compete to take over new and struggling campuses. Under the new provision, the district agreed to remove charters from the competition. Meanwhile, staunch unionists worried that the contractual change would signal the end of a truly united union. They argued that enabling teachers at different schools to modify their contracts would weaken an ironclad and hard-fought teacher's contract.
But classrooms teachers viewed the agreement as a huge opportunity to finally have a say in how their schools move forward and address their unique challenges. Nearly 70 percent of teachers voted in favor of the agreement.
This type of teacher-led change is exactly what Educators 4 Excellence has been fighting for over the past few years. With more than 3,500 members nationwide, E4E elevates the voices of teachers in the policy decisions that shape our classrooms and careers. Our members in California were clamoring for teacher-created change, which was the catalyst for the launch of E4E's chapter in Los Angeles.


Ama Nyamekye

Executive director, Educators 4 Excellence Los Angeles

Teachers Take the Helm of Local School Reform

Posted: 1/12/12 11:17 AM ET

 Subscribe in a reader