WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten and several AFT members joined Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the Department of Education today to announce the Excellent Educators for All project, which aims to ensure educational equity for all students in our nation’s public schools.
AFT members Larry Thompson, an educator in the McDowell County, W.Va., public schools; LeShawna Coleman, an educator in the Philadelphia public schools; and Dwight Davis, an educator in the Washington, D.C., public schools, talked about their experiences as teachers in high-needs schools during a roundtable discussion with Duncan and Weingarten. Coleman and Davis also attended a lunch meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama.
Following is a statement from Weingarten:
“The Excellent Educators for All project, with its goal of attracting, retaining and supporting good teachers for all of America’s children, especially those in the highest-need schools, is necessary and important—but the actual work of achieving a comprehensive solution to inequity is far from easy.
“We heard from a diverse group of educators today about what they need in their classrooms to help kids. So first and foremost, we need to listen to those who are actually closest to the classroom, which is quite the opposite of saying that teachers are the root of the problem and stripping them of their due process rights as the solution. The educators we heard from today want the tools, time and trust they need to help kids and deep collaboration in their schools; a real voice; real supports for kids in addition to instruction so kids have nurses and guidance counselors and wraparound services; and the tools and resources they need to do their job. This is how we make every school a school where parents want to send their kids, teachers want to teach and kids want to attend.
“What Secretary Duncan announced today takes aspects from the Equity and Excellence Commission’s ‘For Each and Every Child’ report to offer an approach that does something for children by empowering teachers, not stripping them of their rights. We look forward to working with the secretary to ensure this project achieves the ultimate goal of equity for all.”