AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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Education Law Should Give Teachers Tools, Time and Trust

Saying "teachers can't do it alone," AFT president Randi Weingarten urged Congress to view the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as an opportunity to provide more support for teachers and students.

ESEA should "help ensure that teachers have the tools, time and trust they need to succeed, including offering teachers and students an environment that sets everyone up for success," Weingarten said in April 15 testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Weingarten's testimony described a comprehensive approach to high-quality teaching that includes better education programs for teacher candidates, stronger induction programs for new teachers and ongoing professional development for all teachers. She also repeated her call for more rigorous teacher evaluations and urged Congress to include in ESEA a pilot program to help school districts develop collaborative, transparent and fair teacher development and evaluation systems.

"Instead of relying on inadequate measures like a single student test score, the goal must be to develop systems to help promising teachers improve, enable good teachers to become great, and identify those teachers who shouldn't be in the classroom at all," Weingarten said.

Weingarten also called on Congress to restore a class-size reduction program with targeted funds for high-poverty schools. The program, Weingarten said, helps teachers differentiate instruction for students and better meet their needs.

More information on the AFT's ongoing efforts to improve teacher evaluations is available online. [AFT press release]

April 15, 2010