On May 6th, 2010, Teachers Network and the Ford Foundation, through a collaboration and co-sponsorship with Hunter College, held the second in a series of three nationwide events inspired by the survey conducted by Teachers Network—funded by the Ford Foundation—of effective teachers participating in teacher networking communities across the country, asking why competent and effective teachers stay or leave the profession. Following the success of our March 2nd Los Angeles convening, the conversation has continued in New York City asking, “What will it really take to make sure every child has an effective teacher?” The third and final convening will be held in Chicago later this year.
Over 120 leaders in the field of education, including teachers, administrators, teacher union representatives, boards of education, and policy organizations were in attendance. Of those present at the convening, 13% were K-12 teachers; 15% were school/district administrators; 12% were state or local policymakers; 16% were college faculty or researchers;14% were business people; and 30% were employees of nonprofit organizations. The New York gathering offered a unique opportunity to help inform, educate, and advise policymakers, as well as people from virtually all constituencies as to what really needs to happen in order to improve the quality of education throughout our nation’s schools.
Presentations by researchers Dr. Barnett Berry of the Center for Teaching Quality and Dr. Kenneth Futernick of WestEd were followed by a panel discussion. The response panel—moderated by Fred Frelow, Program Officer, Ford Foundation, included: Jo Anderson—Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Education; Jon Snyder—Dean, Graduate School, Bank Street College; Eric Nadelstern—Chief Schools Officer, NYC Department of Education; Lyntonia Coston—Teacher, Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School; and Claire Sylvan—Executive Director, International Schools Network. To top-off the afternoon, akeynote address was given by Dr. David Steiner—New York State Commissioner of Education.
After both the discussion and the keynote address, the floor was opened to questions and comments from the audience about what structures and supports are needed to advance teaching quality. Most participants agreed that supporting teachers in continuous learning—throughout their careers—is essential. In addition, teachers indicated that they want to be treated more as professionals and to have a greater role in decision-making. Administrators stressed the importance of building on shared strengths within the school community. And most participants agreed on the transformative potential of teacher networks to build critical connections within schools, districts, and beyond. What do you think are important factors in advancing teaching quality?