“Teacher voice is needed in order for real reform to take place,” Secretary Arne Duncan told the leaders of Teach Plus on Tuesday.
Teach Plus is a national nonprofit teacher leader organization that was celebrating its expansion to the nation’s capital. The event was the first formal activity for a group of 25 high-performing teachers from the D.C. area. As the inaugural class of Teaching Policy Fellows, they will participate in leadership opportunities designed to amplify the voice of effective classroom teachers.
Before the launch event, Duncan met privately with the Fellows and encouraged them to get involved and drive the change happening in the profession. He called on the cohort to make the most of the experience and really be leaders in transforming the teaching profession in their school, district, and nation.
When Duncan spoke to the group of 150 teachers and education leaders, he encouraged them to rebuild the profession so that schools meet the needs of students and teachers. He urged educators to take responsibility for the growth of all children, including those with special needs and those who come from challenging environments in urban cities and rural areas. “Teachers need to stop saying these kids and start staying our kids,” he said.
Clearly, the teaching profession is at a crossroads. At that moment in time, I was humbled to be in the presence of such a committed and accomplished group of Teach Plus educators. Teach Plus aims to improve outcomes for children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers. Now more than ever, we need teacher leaders like the Teach Plus Fellows and others who are totally committed to the potential of all students and who are not afraid to lead radical transformation within our profession.
Shakera Walker is a 2011 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow and Teach Plus Policy Fellow Alumni who teaches kindergarten in Boston, Mass.
Read the Teaching Ambassador Fellows’ recent article, Teachers Want to Lead the Transformation of their Profession.