January 30, 2009
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On the Release of the National Council on Teacher Quality's Report
Yesterday, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its 2008 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, titled "What States Can Do To Retain Effective New Teachers." The report issues a series of policy recommendations for raising teacher quality.
WASHINGTON—The AFT believes that bold actions must be taken to improve teaching, in order to ensure that every child receives a world-class education. This report from NCTQ takes us in the wrong direction. Teachers must be included in the conversation about how to improve teaching and learning. We must work with teachers, not impose misguided reforms on them.
The AFT knows that teachers need more expertise in using data to improve instruction. We know that schools need to aggressively deal with ineffective teachers, and we are willing to take on the tough job of developing new systems to measure teacher effectiveness. That is why affiliates like those in Toledo, New York City and San Francisco have implemented peer assistance and review. NCTQ's recommendations diminish the significant challenges of recruiting and retaining teachers. The report fails to even mention the disastrous impact of poor working conditions and school environments on teacher recruitment and retention.
The report's recommendation to replace traditional pension plans with private accounts is irresponsible in this tough economic climate. If these recommendations were in place, teachers would have lost their pensions. Teachers know this, and consistently and overwhelmingly choose traditional plans over private accounts. At a time when Americans have lost over $2 trillion in private accounts, one way to ensure that the best and brightest professionals stay in teaching is to provide them a safe retirement plan.
Getting buy-in from all stakeholders; building capacity through professional development; improving mentoring, induction and evaluation systems; and ensuring good working conditions and good pensions-these will help us retain great teachers. We are disappointed that a group calling itself the National Center on Teacher Quality would overlook so many of these crucial elements that make teaching and learning work.
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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.