Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

Saluting Educator Voices

obriena's picture

So many of us are concerned that education policy debates in Washington, DC, do not reflect the reality of public schools across the country. These debates often appear to be controlled by politicians and the media, not the educators who are intimately familiar with the challenges our children face.

But the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center and PDK International are working to change that through a project called Teachers Are the Center of Education, a series of reports highlighting the importance of teacher voices in student learning and education reform.

The most recent addition to this project is Teacher Voices: Critical Issues in Student Learning and School Reform, a partnership between the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education and PDK International. It has two parts: a podcast series and a webinar. The podcasts feature a practicing classroom teacher and a dean or faculty member from a school of education talking about one of five big issues identified by educators as important to today’s classrooms: family and community engagement; teacher mentoring; technology; data, testing and assessment; and diversity. Each conversation explores the impact of the issue on student learning and provides reform suggestions to policymakers.

These podcasts are well worth a listen (most are around 20 minutes long). And on December 9, from 2-3pm ET, you can join a webinar that will bring together three of the podcast participants in a live discussion on what we as a nation can do to ensure that teachers’ voices are being heard.

Earlier reports of this project are also quite interesting. The first (the result of collaboration between the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center and PDK International) profiles eight teachers from a diverse set of secondary schools. For example, the first profile is of a history and government teacher in a high-poverty Dallas high school that serves a large percentage of Hispanic students; the next is of an English language arts teacher in a rural Maine who works with mainly Caucasian students. But no matter the students they serve or the size of their school, a common theme emerges: These teachers (and hundreds of thousands like them) do incredible work for students every day.

The second report (the result of collaboration between the College Board, the National Writing Project and PDK International) focuses on the use of technology in teaching writing skills. It profiles nine amazing educators, telling how each integrates technology in a meaningful way to engage students in content matter. Based on their (and other educators’) experiences, it offers very practical (though unfortunately not very “exciting”) recommendations for how policy can ensure all students have access to such opportunities.

Again, the overall goal of this project is to amplify the voices of educators in education reform discussions. And hopefully politicians get the message, because the insights the educators profiled here, as well as those from across the country, have offered have the potential to transform the way our public schools look and the way all our nation's children learn.