The Revolution that is Overdue

American Federation of Teachers (1986-01)

Tags: , ,

Item Metadata (#3480108)



ID: 3480108

Title: The Revolution that is Overdue

Creator: American Federation of Teachers

Date: 1986-01

Description: A report by the AFT task force on the future of education.

Subjects: Education Reform

Location: Washington, D.C

Original Format: Paper

Source: American Federation of Teachers,. (1986). The revolution that is overdue. 16.

Publisher: WPR

Tags: , ,

View Document as HTML

Hide Document

~ I •
SPECIAL ORDER OF BUSINESS
on
at is .
THE FUTURE OF TEACHING AND LEARNING
A REPORT OF THE AFT TASK FORCE ON THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION
SUBMITIED BY: AFT EXECUTIVE COUNCIL 1986

,
I ,
30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41
42
43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55

The Context . -56•
57 58 59 1 For the past two years, the 60 2 nation has been in the midst of an 61 3 education reform movement 62 4 aimed at ensuring that the public 63 5 school system prepare students 64 6 for the future and thereby secure 65 7 the vitality of America. More rigor 66 8 has been introduced into 67 9 curricula, and standards have 68 10 been tightened. Teachers' salaries 69 11 have been modestly increased, 70 12 and some other additional 71 13 resources have been pumped into 72 14 education. Traditional friends of 73 15 public schools have been 74 16 reactivated, and new allies in the 75 17 business and political 76 18 communities have been found. In 77 19 general and after a period of 78 20 torpor, the interest and concern of 79 21 the public have been redirected to 80
22 public education. Throughout this 81
23 period, the AFT and its affiliates 82
24 led many of these changes, 83
25 supported others, and. equally 84
26 important, beat back most of the 85
27 dangerous and simple·minded 86
28 proposals masquerading as 87
29 education reform. It was a time of 88 both opportunity and danger, and the AFT's ability to seize and shape the opportunities on behalf of its members and public education earned us unprecedented and invaluable recognition.
But there is little reason to be sanguine about the future of public education. Despite recent polls indicating somewhat greater satisfaction with public schools as a result of the reform movement, public education is still in peril. The grades the public gives public education are still low. Fanned by the curtent administration, support for vouchers and tuition tax credits is still at an unprecedented high. The traditional political base of public education is eroding, along with the proportion of the population with school-age children. As for students, performance is still unacceptably mediocre, in terms oftheiroWn future needs and those of the democratic society they will inherit.
The "first stage" of educatIOn reform therefore has provided only partial relief to the problems threatening public education. One reason is that the public expects education reform to produce higher student achievement. but such gains are neither easily nor quickly obtained. While it is unrealistic to expect immediate, tangible improvements from recent reforms, it seems equally true that if positive results are not forthcoming, there will be a backlash against public education, and one from which we may not readily recover.
A second, and more significant, reason for the problems persisting in public education is that much more reform is required, and of a far more basic nature than the first round of reform afforded. Indeed, even if all the better reform measures of the past two years were enacted, they would not be sufficient to ensure a well•educated, democratic, productive citizenry-an education of value for all the nation's children. not

,t:)
,'" ,
-
2

~
89 just some. They would not be 135 lowering standards is once again
...
90 sufficient to attract and retain a 136 being pursued as a matter of 91 talented teaching force, without 137 public policy. This policy must be 92 whom a fine education system, let 138 vigorously resisted. It is a threat to, 93 alone an education reform 139 all students, but particularly to 94 movement, is impossible. And 140 disadvantaged youngsters for 95 they would not be sufficient to 141 whom public education 96 ensure the future of our union. For 142 represents the best chance of full 97 as long as the educational 143 and equal participation in 98 function of our public schools is 144 American society. It is a threat to 99 impaired, as long as teaching is 145 our current members and to the
100 not a full profession and teachers 146 vitality of our union. And, above 101 are disabled from assuming both 147 all, it is a threat to the future of 102 the responsibilities and 148 public education. The second 103 prerogatives of professionals, 149 stage of reform therefore should 104 public education will remain in 150 be responsive to the demographic 105 jeopardy and, with it, the future of 151 and structural changes now 106 our union. 152 affecting our society, to the needs
153 and aspirations of our members, 154 and to the nation's need for a well•155 educated, democratic, and 156 productive citizenry. 157 To fulfill these requirements, 158 the second stage of education 159 reform should seek the full 160 professionalization of teaching 161 and the restructuring of public

Introduction

162 schools to promote student 163 learning. In asserting these goals. 164 the AFT Task Force on the Future 107 The AFT Task Force on the 165 of Education recognizes that they 108 Future of Education therefore 166 are not novel ideas for this union. 109 believes that there is a need for a 167 While some of the concepts in the 110 second stage of education reform 168 following report may be new, 111 to sustain and extend the more 169 then, the basic philosophy 112 promiSing features of the first 170 underlying it reaffirms the core of 113 stage and to correct its oversights 171 our beliefs as a union. Throughout 114 and deficiencies. One of the chief, 172 its history, the AFT has 115 and most dangerous, omissions of 173 recognized that unionism and 116 the current reform movement is 174 professionalism are inextricably 117 the failure to take seriously 175 linked and that public schools 118 enough the fact that over half the 176 must be, first and foremost, 119 nation's teaching force will have 177 institutions of teaching and 120 to be replaced over less than the 178 learning. We have made, 121 next decade. However, the 179 significant achievements on 122 requisite supply, let alone 180. behalf of our members, and we 123 education's fair share of talent, is 181 have made significant 124 not forthcoming. The 182 contributions to public education 125 demographics are against us, as 183 and to the protection and 126 ,. ~re the prevailing salaries and 184 promotion of American 127 professional conditions of . 185 democracy. 128 teaching. 186 But our vision as a union is 129 To date, virtually nothing 187 only partially realized. Much 130 positive has been done to attract 188 more is required, now and for the 131 and retain talented teachers into 189 future-for our members, for 132 the nation's public schools. 190 unionism as we practice it. for 133 Instead, the historic tendency in 191 public education, and for the 134 education to meet shortages by 192 nation.
3 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202

'" 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218· 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228
229
230
The following recommendations therefore represent a set of steps toward the further realization of this vision. They are not "specifications" for what to do tomorrow at 9 A.M. but, rather, the direction the Task Force firmly believes the AFT should be pursuing. Nor do these recommendations represent a comprehensive map of our vision or even of a second stage of education reform. Some territory is missing, other terrain needs to be more fully charted. In part, this is a result of the Task Force's brief tenure, relative to the time required to explore new ideas fully and responsibly and to suggest their implementation. And in part, it is also because the Task Force views the following ideas and recommendations as a beginning, a bold one to be sure, but only a beginning.
The Task Forceallticipates and urges AFT members and affiliates to engage in a process of education and discussion of these ideas, as the Task Force itself did. For it is through the collective wisdom of our members, fortified by open and vigorous discourse, that we will continue to be both innovative and responsible, on behalf of our members and for public education. There is much more to be done.

• I •
I .,


THE PROFESSIONALIZATION OF TEACHING
231 The AFT recognizes that individual teachers act professionally and there is 232 currently in place the best teaching force the nation is ever likely to see. if 233 present conditions are not altered. Nonetheless, teaching is by no means a 234 profession, by any accepted definition of the concept, nor are teachers treated as 235 full professionals. 236 The ill effects of the status and conditions of teaching as an occupation on 237 teachers and students have long been known to the AFT. Indeed, at the heart of 238 the revolution the AFT wrought in pioneering collective bargaining for teach•239 ers, and central to the AFT vision of teacher unionism, was and is the belief that 240 unionism and professionalism are inextricably linked-that collective bargain•241 ing for teachers was and is an important means of attaining the professional iza•242 tion of teaching and the betterment of public education .. 243 The AFT therefore has a long and proud history of seeking professional-level 244 salaries and benefits for its members, improvements in teacher education and in 245 the knowledge base of teaching, rigorous entry standards, limitations on class 246 size, decision-making authority for teachers, restraints on the power of super•247 visors, working conditions that enhance teachers' ability to teach, professional 248 development opportunities, and a host of other particulars related to profes•249 sional matters. We have made great gains for our members--and shudder to 250 think about how much worse the circumstances of teachers and public educa•251 tion might have been in the absence of the revolution we wrought. 252 But there is currently a crisis of standards in this nation. and it threatens to 253 wipe out all the gains made on behalf of the teaching force over the past decades 254 and. with these gains, public education as a viable, vital democratic institution. 255 Precipitating this crisis is a massive teacher shortage. During less than a decade. 256 over one half of the current teaching force-over one million people-will be 257 retiring. But neither the number nor the quality of individuals needed to 258 replace the current, aple teaching force is forthcoming. Aside from a few saints. 259 talented individuals will not be attracted to an occupation with low salaries.
5

, I
260 limited autonomy and authority. and tough working conditions-a nonprofes-. 261 sional career with few extrinsic rewards and rapidly diminishing intrinsic -, , 262 rewards. 263 At the same time, the nation is experiencing a baby "boomlet," the propor•264 tion of at-risk students is growing, and the quality of education required by all 265 students must be increased if the American standard of living and the demo•266 cratic institutions that sustain our freedom are to be preserved and strength•267 ened. 268 Given the scenario facing our nation-a smaller absolute number of college•269 age individuals, and consequently, an even smaller pool of prospective teach•270 ers, few incentives to enter teaching, the ability of other sectors to outbid 271 education for talent, monetarily and otherwise, greater student numbers and 272 needs-the professionalization of teaching is not only desirable. it is a neces•273 sity. 274 The AFT recognizes that although the professionalization of teaching was 275 not previously achieved. the nation nonetheless benefited from a variety of 276 demographic and social conditions that assured a steady supply of talented 277 teachers, comprised largely of women and minorities. There have been teacher 278 shortages before, although none of this magnitude. More important. during 279 prior teacher shortages, there was little problem in securing for education its 280 requisite share of talented individuals. The prevailing demographic and social 281 conditions. pernicious though some of these were in terms of equal opportunity 282 for women and minorities, were favorable to the education sector. 283 It is now a different world. 284 If the current salary and professional conditions of teaching persist. and if 285 states and localities continue to meet the teacher shortage crisis by issuing 286 credentials to any warm body. not only will teaching be entirely degraded as a 287 career but public education and the students that represent the future of this 288 nation will suffer irreparable harm. 289 The following recommendations are therefore designed to ensure the future 290 of public education and the democratic society it helps support by securing dnd 291 retaining an adequate number of talented teachers through professionalizing 292 teaching.
293 PROFESSIONAL SALARIES 294 • Beca.1se of the existing shortage of new teachers and .the expansion of that 295 shortage between 1986 and 1995. the AFT advises state federations to seek 296 state-mandated minimum starting salaries for application during this pro•297 jected ten-year period of teacher shortages, where states fall below competi•298 tive standards. Such state-mandated minimum teacher salaries must be 299 designed on a state-by-state basis to make entering salaries for new teachers 300 reasonably competitive with entering salaries in that state for other profes•
301 sions requiring comparable education and training. State-level minimums 302 also can be improved upon through bargaining at the local level. 303 • Because of the existing and impending shortage of teachers. which is in part
304 due to the expected retirement of a substantial share of the experienced 305 teaching force. additional monies are urgently needed to retain experienced 306 teachers. Such funds should be generated at the state level. in addition to 307 higher minimum salaries, and. can be improved upon through bargaining at 308 the local level.
309 SHORTAGE AREAS
310 • As an incentive to attracting and hiring teachers in all areas of shortages. as 311 they develop. the AFT recommends that locals and school districts consider 312 placing entering teachers in areas of shortage on higher steps of the salary 313 schedule. The salaries of certified teachers currently teachingin these short•314 age areas should be raised in those instances where placing an entering
6

v ",
315 316
I" 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325
326 327 328
329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337
338
339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350
351 352 353 354 355 356 357
358
359 360 361
362
, 363 364 365 366 367
teacher in a shortage area on a higher step results in the experienced teacher earning less money.

To meet the' current shortage and enable talented liberal arts majors, subject area majors, and college graduates with substantive knowledge in areas of critical shortage who have been in other careers, the AFT supports supple•mentary licensure programs, coupled with rigorous internships under the guidance of experienced teachers for at least the initial year of teaching. Supplementary licensure and internship programs should in no way be designed or used to reduce or undermine standards for entering teaching. They should, instead, be an alternative route to attaining professional stan•dards.


To attract former teachers back into the profession, the AFT recommends that such teachers be placed at least on the salary schedule step they had attained in the year in which they left teaching.


In defining areas of shortage, it is important to account for all areas of shortage, as they develop, and not single out one subject area or grade leveL It is critical that policy makers refrain from responding to teacher shortages by hiring unqualified individuals. Therefore, in addition to the recommenda•tions above, the AFT urges states and localities to explore credit for academ•ically equivalent work experience outside of teaching, flex-time arrangements, incentives to retain retiring teachers and utilize the expertise of retired teachers, and other means of attracting and retaining qualified teachers.


SHORTAGE OF MINORITY TEACHERS Of vital concern to the AFT is the recruitment and retention of minority teachers. In view of our significant role in the civil rights movement. our historic achievements in securing minority teachers equal rights and equal opportunity in the union movement and in the educ~tional enterprise, and because of our belief in the desirability of having schools staffed by teachers who reflect the diversity of the nation's heritage, the AFT views with alarm the shrinking number of minority teachers. To address this concern, the AFT urges arid endorses efforts to eliminate substandard educational opportunities, which contribute to inadequate school and test performance by a disproportionate percentage of minorities. The AFT also proposes the following course of action at the national. state, and local levels:

Emphasis on a national level to address issues of recruitment and retention of minority teachers as an area of critical shortage.


Programs at the high school and college levels to identify talented minority students who are potential teachers, to diagnose their academic strengths and weaknesses, to strengthen their general school performance, to prepare them adequately for and in college. and to improve their performance on college•entry and teaching-entry tests.


Scholarships and loans at the state, local, and federal levels. with targeted funds designated for minorities.


Target teacher recruitment and intern programs at institutions that attract significant numbers of minorities.


~ACHER EDUCATION AND INDUCTION

All teacher education candidates should have a broadly based, liberal arts undergraduate education, with at least one subject major.


All prospective teachers should have a well-structured induction program that includes a one-year internship (for which they could be paid as intern teachers) un~er the supervision of an experienced. knowledgeable teacher.


7

368 All beginning teachers should be reviewed and assessed by experienced 369 teachers who are prepared for this responsibility. The induction program' 370 should also involve a residency as a beginning teacher beyond the internship. 371 Peer assistance and review would be applied throughout the residency.
372 • Experienced teachers should be involved in the planning and development of 373 internship, residency, and peer programs, through the agreement of their 374 union.
375 TEACHER TESTING AND CERTIFICATION
376 • A new national. nongovernmental board of the teaching profession. com•377 posed of a majority of experienced teachers, should be created. The board 378 would develop professional standards for teaching on the basis of the knowl•379 edge and clinical practice base in teaching and oversee the development of a 360 new national assessment procedure for the professional certification of pro•381 spective teachers. The assessment should include high-quality procedures to 382 examine subject-matter knowledge and pedagogical knowledge; as well as 383 pr')viding for a well-structured clinical induction experience. Each compo•384 nent of the development and implementation of the assessment should be 385 vigilant about safeguarding objectivity and avoiding racial bias, avoid 386 explicitly or implicitly endorsing any "one best method" of teaching prac•387 tice, and take account of the diversity of students and settings that prospec•388 tive teachers will face.
389 • Board certification for new teachers should be awarded only upon successful 390 completion of a rigorous teacher education program, passage of a national 391 teacher entrance examination developed by the profession, and demon•392 strated teaching competence in intern and residency programs.
393 • Although board certification initially would be voluntary, states should give 394 serious consideration to adopting the professional certification standards 395 promulgated by the national board as a basis for state teacher licensure.
396 PROFESSIONAL ADVANCEMENT
.~,.....
397 • In the future. experienced teachers should be eligible for professional career 398 advancement through advanced certification by the new national profes 399 sional board. This board would set the professional standards for Sllt b
.... 400 advanced certification and determine whether a candidate had met these 401 standards. Such advanced certification should be voluntary and open to all 402 teachers who sought it.
403 • Teachers should have a variety of opportunities for performing professional 404 roles and advancing within the teaching profession. while continuing to be 405 practicing teachers. Teachers should also have the option of working on ten-, 406 eleven-, or twelve-month contracts in order to perform professional respon· 407 sibilities while retaining their status as teachers.
408 • Teaching must be structured as a lifetime career. Teaching and traditional 409 administration/management must be considered as two separate careers. and 410 teachers' salaries should not be limited by the salaries paid to administrators:' 411 managers.
412 TEACHER MOBILITY
413 Although we live in a mobile society, teachers face many roadblocks to 414 practicing their profession if they choose to or are forced to change geographic 415 locations. Teachers moving from state to state must be recertified and often are 416 required to obtain as many as fifteen or more additional college credits. Most 417 IiItates also require teachers who are new residents to teach at least three years.
418 . rcgardles, of previous experience, before qualifying for tenure. Teachers who 419 move to a new district or state are placed on lower steps of the salary scale than
420 their many years of experience warrant and often also lose much or all of their
421 pension entitlements because teacher retirement plans are not transferable~ 422 Because these practices discourage individuals from entering or re-entering 423 teacMng, encourage experienced teachers to leave the profession, exacerbate 424 the teacher shortage crisis, and frequently result in unqualified people being 425 hired to teach in place of qualified teachers, the AFT recommends that:
426 • Vigorous steps be taken toward the attainment of reciprocity of teacher.
427 license recognition from one state to anoth.er. A means for achieving such
428 reciprocity that warrants serious consideration would be for states to adopt
429 the professional certification standards promulgated by the national board as
430 a basis for state licensure.
431 • The requirement of earning additional college credits be based upon need 432 and not be an automatic consequence of having changed districts or states.
433 • School systems preserve full tenure rights and,credit on the salary schedule 434 for lifetime teaching experience. regardless of where these were earned.
435 • Pension programs should allow teachers who move from state to state to be 436 employed or re-employed without losing benefits.
It.
SCHOOL STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE


437 The American Federation of Teachers believes that all decisions regarding 438 the establishment, maintenance, or reform of school structure and 439 governance must be based on their effect upon student learning, The litmus 440 test of all such decisions is whether they positively affect student learning 441 and facilitate teachers' efforts to provide that learning. Therefore. all AFT 442 recommendations are based on the assumption that schools must be learning 443 centered with teachers empowered to carry out their responsibilities. 444 A great deal has been written and discussed about effective schools. Such 445 schools are learning centered. Descriptions of academically effective. 446 learning-centered schools share common factors across the studies and 447 reports: (1) clear goals related to academic learning, (2) high expectations for 448 students and staff, (3) a stable faculty with a clear sense of school ownership 449 and community of shared interests, (4) strong leadership in support of the 450 learning goals of the school-exemplified by a respected principal who 451 involves teachers or a group of teacher leaders. (5) collegial relationships/ 452 collaborative planning among teachers and administrators, (6) school-wide 453 staff development, (7) school site management. (8) learning time given 454 priority, (9) frequent student assessments and feedback, (10) community and 455 district support. and (11) a safe and orderly climate with clear and fairly 456 enforced discipline codes. 457 These school characteristics are consistent with AFT's goals and policies 458 related to the professionalization of teaching. They are also in line with 459 AFT's long-standing positions ih support of high quality standards for 460 students, teachers. and other personnel. However, these "effective school" 461 factors are descriptive rather than prescriptive. That is. they tell how an 462 academically effective school appears; they imply but do not necessarily 463 guide how to create such a school. 464 As public schools are currently organized, the only way for teachers to 465 advance professionally and monetarily is by leaving the classroom. This
9


"
4f>6 structure diminishes the importance and valtw oftlw roln of tho teacher and ., , 467 thereby impairs student learning. In contrast. it is the fundamental premise 468 of learning-centered schools that teachers are at the core of school success. To 469 recruit bright teachers, equip them with highly sophisticated skills through 470 rigorous training, and then offer them little opportunity to apply their 471 knowledge anq skills in school decision making inevitably will drive capable 472 people away from teaching. Teaching must instead be structured as a lifetime 473 career. 474 The AFT therefore strongly recommends that schools and school systems 475 abolish the factory model of education-management, which treats teachers as 476 workers who must adhere to predetermined practices and follow endless 477 rules and regulations, even against their professional judgment. and assumes 478 that students are passive, uniform cogs in a production process. 479 Professionalizing teaching begins with a clear recognition that teachers must 480 become much more self-regulating, that traditional management 481 responsibilities in public schools must be altered, and that the organization 482 of learning mw;t put student needs above bureaucratic convenience. 483 The following recommendations therefore support the creation of 484 learning-centered schools and advance the professionalization of teaching:
~~
485 GOALS AND DECISIONS 486 • In a democratic society, the general goals and learning outcomes for 487 schools are established bv states and local communities. However, the 488 means to achieve these state and local goals are best determined by those 489 responsible for the implementation of the educational program at the local 490 school site. Teacher unions. as the collective voice of the teaching 491 profession, must be involved in the development and implementation of 492 education policy matters at all levels.
493 • School faculty and staff must share in the establishment and maintenance 494 of school goais and values consistent with required state and local 495 education outcomes.
496 • School site dutonomy must be increased, with greater decision-making 497 power invested in classroom teachers.
498 • Schools should operate in: a collegial and participatory fashion under the 499 leadership of the teaching faculty. All building employees should be 500 recognized as contributing to the efficient operation of the school.
501 LEADERSHIP
502 • As progress is made in restructuring schools. the AFT supports an even 503 greater distinction than currently exists between the roles of teachers and 504 those who do not teach. Teachers should assum3 the appropriate 505 instructional and curricular functions currently exercised by those who do 506 not teach.
507 • Teachers should be the instructional leaders of the schools and should be 508 responsible for making decisions about instructional strategies, staff 509 development. curricular materials. pupil assignments and scheduling, 510 structure of learning time during the school day, instructional goals 511 beyond those set by the state or local school board. school-level budgutary 512 matters. and elements of professional evaluation.
513 • The role and function of managers in a learning-centered school mllst 514 continue to he explored. Different roles and models have been suggested: 515 1. teacher-run schools with a group of teachers taking on school site 51f> management responsibilities. employing an administrator to handle 517 the day-to-day administrati\'e tasks, which could include the 51H employment of managers from outside the field of education (see 3
:> 1!J below):
II)

,..

1
'4
520 2. principal as institutional advocate who also serves as a liaison with 521 central governance bodies and the community. with teachers 522 empowmed to make decisions about and implement the instructional 523 and curricular functions of the school; 524 3. principal as building manager who implements the educational 525 program and school discipline policies designed by teachers and 526 carri.es out district and state reporting requirements. The principal is 527 generally responsible for working with personnel not directly involved 528 in the school instructional program and with the coordination of 529 student services provided by outside agencies.
530 • Teachers' salary levels should not be limited by the salaries paid 531 administrators.
532 STRUCTURE
533 If a group of experienced teachers were brought together and given the 534 opportunity to design a school structure from scratch. the chances of their 535 reaffirming the present structure would be remote. Beginning with the 536 isolated. cellular organization of classrooms on to the whole top-down. "egg•537 crate" structure of the typical public school. there is a series of obstacles to 538 effective teaching and learning. Present classroom arrangements. for 539 example. force teachers into spending most of their time lecturing and 540 maintaining order, and sometimes even require them to be entertainers rather 541 than teachers in order to hold the attention of their usually excessive number 542 of students. The professional ideals that drew teachers into teaching in the 543 first place-working intensively with students. preferably on a more 544 individual basis. intellectual challenge. cooperation. and control over one·s· 545 work. to name but a few-are everywhere thwarted. 546 It is I itHe wonder. then. that such an alarming proportion of teachers 547 "burn out." leave, or become cynical. For even under more enlightened 548 school administrations. the present school structure makes it difficult for 549 teachers LO function as full professionals on behalf of their students. In all too 550 many schools, it has become increasingly difficult for teachers to deploy 551 human. curricular. and technological resources within the school. as 552 necessary. to work with students individually or in groups. and to interact 553 with and learn from their colleagues. 554 The :..osts this factory-model school system imposes on students are also 555 considerable. Students learn in a variety of ways and through a variety of 556 means. and these patterns frequently vary even subject to subject. The 557 present structure takes little or no account of this. Students are individuals. 558 some of whom need intensive help from a variety of sO'.lrces in order to attain 559 mastery. others of whom can function more independently. and most of 560 whom embody diverse needs. depending on the situation. The present 561 structure takes little or no account of this. Some students who could forge 562 ahead may be held back by the needs of the majority of their class or grade. 563 while others who encounter difficulties that might be easily detected and 564 rectified under a more flexible class. grade, and curriculum structure may be 565 left back unproductively and become tomorrow's dropouts. The present 566 structure takes little or no account of this. All students require problem•567 solving and critical-thinking skills. as well as basic skills. and prompt and 568 constructive feedback on' school and homework assignments. The present 569 structure. with its fixed and excessive class sizes. takes little or no account of 570 this. . 571 The dysfunctional nature of the present structure has become increasingly 572 apparent to the AFT. This is evident from the massive defections of teachers 573 from the t~aching ranks and in the criticisms of those who remain. It is 574 evident in the staggering dropout and failure rates. particularly among 575 disadvantaged students. And it is evident in the low performance of average 576 and even gifted American students relative to their counterparts in other
1 1

577 developed nations.
578 Rethinking the present structure of schools is therefore an essential pre•
579 condition to the creation of learning-centered schools. The AFT recommends
580 the following preliminary steps toward the realization of this goal:

581 • Time is a key element in restructuring teaching and schools. Time for
.....:.,.;-.............

582 teachers to.teach. to plan. to continue learning. and to make educational 583 decisions requires alterations in current teacher loads and creative uses of
.584 technology. paraprofessionals. and other instructiona~ personnel under the :'-85" direction of teachers. Current teaching loads therefore must be reduced 586 and restructured to achieve these goals. The prevailing principle should be 587 to improve. rather than diminish. students' access to professional teachers.
588 • In contrast to the current system in which students are assigned a new 589 teacher(s) every year. and ~n order to enhance teachers' ability to make 590 appropriate instructional decisions for students and students' prospects for 591 receiving individualized attention. the possibilities of new arrangements 592 should be explored. such a., having staff teams take responsibility. perhaps
59:3 over periods of more than one year. for determining the instructional needs 594 of groups of students. providing appropriate follow-up. and monitoring 595 their progress.
596 • Paraprofessionals involved in instruction must be well trained and 597 certified and given greater responsibility fol;' working with students while 598 under the direction of teachers.
599 • Learning-centered schools sho,:tld employ a variety of informational 600 technologies. includingvideo.~· audio. ami computing resources; however. 601 the use. assessment. and refinement of these reSOUrC0!i should be part of 602 the professional task or'teachers.
603 PROFESSIONAL OEVELOfMENT
hOo; • Staff development should exist on a continuum beginlling with an 605 internship and continuing thFQ.ughout one's professional life. Continued 606 professional development ~hould be a normal job expectation and occur f)Oi \\'ithin the regular school day. This could include regular reviews and 608 observations by colleag~es. demonstration te.aching. coaching. and
609 opportunitie.s for cond\,1cting independent research.
610 EVALUATION
611 • Beginning teachers should b~ assisted and assessed by experienced 612 teachers pri9,l' to certificaUoll.
613 • Following 1ll1plementaHon of high-quality teacher internship and 614 residency programs and when teacher-directed professional growth 615 opportunities are a regular part of the school program. peer assistance and 616 intervention should be used to safeguard standards withill the profession.
617 • Intensive e\'ahlations of' certified teachers should occur only .when serious 618 problems are evident.
fll ~ ACCOUNTAijlLiTY IREGULATION
H2O • In order to h(}lp ensure the establishment and maintenanCt~ of at least thn ti2l minimum conditions necessary for teaching and leafllin~ {t, occur. an 622 index of essentiallearning-illput conditions (such as tedchers teaching in 623 field. adequate teaching resources and supplies. up-to-date and adequatu 624 numbers of textbooks. etc .. etc.) should be developed and schools should
f")r:
1_,) IH! pl1blich' rated everv vear or two under the criteria established bv the ti211 indnx. Tilt} AFT shouid 'consider encouraging states to pass sllch Fair h2i LI!arning Conditions Acts. with rigorous state and local enforcement h28 pro\"isiolls. so that schools that consistently fall below the minimum
J)

" ! I
I
I
629'
:1
~ ." 630 631
J 632
H 633
I
~j ~ 634
: 635
:1 J 636
~
~ 637
638
639
640
641
642 643 644 645
646 647
learning-input standards can be brought up to par.

Although learning-centered schools and professional teachers must have flexibility to meet the needs of students, the public necessarily requires accountability. Central school system administration and state governments therefore should monitor the progress 'of schools. However. regulation and intervention should be applied to the school site only if the school fails to meet minimum learning-input standards outlined in an index ot essential conditions for a learning-centered school or other appropriate problem indicators. such as high teacher turnover. dropouts, violence, and poor student performance.


The autonomy of teachers in school sites is predicated upon norms and standards of practice established by the teaching profession.


THE ROLE OF THE UNION

The details of the various mechanisms described herein should be developed and implemented through the participation of teachers and through the collective bargaining process or memorandum of understanding at the local level or through a collaborative agreement.


Collective bargaining contracts should continue to allow for flexibility in mutually agreeable experimental programs at the school site.


PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE
648 Choice within the public schoqls exists in many forms: magnet schools, 649 alternative schools. schools within a school. open enrollment, and elective 650 courses, among others. The AFT recognizes, however. that for both parents and 651 teachers, current choices of educational programs may be unnecessarily lim•652 ited, largely by the wealth of a district or the inflexibility of central or school 653 administration. The AFT therefore remains open to the discussion of choice 654 options within the public school system if such options fulfill the educational 655 conditions, goals. and outcomes duly established by states and local commll•
656 nities. 657 Our openness is a cautious one, for we recognize the pitfalls of the choice 658 issue. even within the public school system. These pitfalls involve the need to 659 balance the public or social interest against individual interests and to avoid the 660 kind of racial. class, and ability segregation that is antithetical to the mission of 661 public schools in a democratic society. Any consideration of a public school 662 choice proposal must also be sensitive to the protection of the rights of teachers.
13


THE ROLE OF THE UNION
L4 >

663 Throughout its history. the AFT has recognized that unionism and profes•664 sionalism are ,inextricably linked. That basic precept has shaped our activities 665 and clarified the role that a union of professionals must play. The AFT 666 pioneered collective bargaining for teachers and other education employees. A 667 strong union structure has been established. an effective political action capac•668 ity developed. and considerable power and authority have been moved to our 669 members. 670 Through these means-collective bargaining. political action. and profes•671 sional development assistance-we have made significant achievements all 672 behalf of our members and have overcome tough obstacles in the face of difficult 673 conditions and changing requirements for public education. We will continue 674 to use and develop these means to bring about change and improvements in the 675 status and conditipns of teaching and to enhance the quality of education. And 676 we now have a special opportunity to build on our achievements and to advance 677 the teaching profession. 678 The American Federation of Teachers has a responsibility to playa signifi•679 cant role iIi the education reform movement. It is crucial that the quality and 680 level of education received by Americans be improved. As a union. we can make 681 an important contribution to assure that there will be sufficient numbers of 682 qualified teachers to teach America's children and that those teachers will have 683 professional authority over teaching practices. In fact. the unprecedented aUen•684 tion given to education at this time by governors. legislators. the business 685 community. and the public at large presents an opportunity to achieve gains for 686 our members and for public education that may not come our way again soon. 687 The AFT realizes that certain conditions must be met if we are to bp 688 successful in our obligation to represent members in their relationship with 689 management. protect the institution of public education in the environment in 690 which it t~xists. and protect the institution of democracy in America where w,~ 691 are privihJged to live and practice our profession. Consequently. the union's rolt~ 692 in education reform is an important part of the union's primary responsibility of 693 effectively representing its members. Past achievements were made possible 694 because hundreds of thousands of individuals who joined our union because o~ 695 a belief and a vision remained to build an organization capable of meeting the 696 challenge we now face. 697 We are about to experience the largest shortage of teachers in the history of 698 American education. Some of the first efforts at education reform have resulted 699 in overly prescriptive changes affecting professional conditions and discourag•700 ing the choice of teaching as a career. Pay and status in teaching. while showing 701 recent gains. remain below levels in other professions. To overcome the short•702 age while resisting the erosion of professional standards. we must attempt 703 radical. rather than incremental. changes in the basic structure of American 704 education. ,"_ 70S Our organizational g6alis to preserve public education while empowering 706 teachers to exercise independent professional judgment in educational matters. 707 This means we seek to restructure the present public education system and 708 obtain for teachers the legiti,mate authority to make decisions affecting their 709 work. We will not exchange one set of prescriptive controls for inflexible 710 working conditions established in any other manner. The union is a force in the 711 education system for the practicing professional because it represents and .712 asserts its members' interests in improving the profession and the quality of 713 education.
714 • The ;\FT seeks to empower teachers to gain legitimate responsibility and 715 authority for teaching and the learning environment inthe schools. to retain 716 independent decision making in matters relating to the profession. and to

f ~I 717 assist in obtaining the resources needed to provide a high-quality education 718 program. The union welcomes proposals that can help achieve these goals.
719 • The AFT should provide a forum for the exploration of developments in the· 720 advancement of the profession and other aspects of education reform. con•721 sider national policies and responses related to these developments. and 722 provide research and staff support for affiliates.
723 • The AFT should. at the same time. be involved in providing assistance for
724 activities that will strengthen the capacity of state federations and local
725 unions in efforts to organize and represent members. The AFT should assist
726 in the establishment of union structures. provide for leadership training and
727 assistance. and help our locals develop the skills and programs that they
728 require to represent members and participate in the development and imple•
729 mentation of education reform issues.
730 Opportunities to advance the interests of members can take many forms. and
731 we shouldbe open to these opportunities while we seek to develop our capacity
732 to represent our members' interests. The union consists of locals in various
733 'stages of development and maturity. Because of the different conditions and the
734 'variations of experience. some state federations and locals will necessarily
735 choose different ways to advance the profession. At each level of governance. we
736 should use the tools available to us-collective bargaining at the local level
737 where possible. heightened political and legislative activity at the state level.
738 and union-sponsored programs to enhance the profession.
739 There are significant opportunities in the education reform movement for
740 emerging locals and state federations. By being open to new ideas and involved
741 in their development, drawing on the resources and experience of other seg•
742 ments of the union. locals can provide a stronger voice for their members. This
743 involvement can result in important improvements in education and gains for
744 :teachers and other school employees and can also help the union grow. The
745 growth of the union is important to the education reform movement because qf
746 'the special relationship of the union to its members. Teachers and their unions
747 will evaluate proposals. develop new concepts. and serve as the vehicles
748 'through which the new reform measures will be implemented. The most valu•
749 able reform proposals are those that support these opportunities.
750 The consideration of new ideas and involvement in education reform
751 activities should enhance the efforts to strengthen our ability to represent
752 members. In fact. such involvement may suggest the importance of organizing
753 and prove useful in broadening our sense of purpose for the organization. As
754 that strength is established. the union can effectively insist on the involvement
755 or teachers in any activity relating to the profession and obtain. through bargain•
756 jng or collateral activity. the conditions of employment sought by its members.
757 At the same time. we must continue to target resources and efforts toward
758 building strong local unions in neW areas.
759 The following considerations should guide state federations and locals
760 engaged in the development of education reform proposals:
761 .. Teacher unions. as the collective voice of the teaching profession. must be 762 involved in the development and implementation of education policy mat•763 ters at all governance levels. The union's role is to provide leadership through 764 informing and educating the membership about the latest developments in 765 education reform and by taking the initiative in suggesting new education 766 reform policies.
767 • Participation of the membership in developing, deciding. planning. and 768 implementing reform proposals is critical to the acceptance of reform by 769 .' members. The local. state. and national structures should encourage oppor•770 ,~" tunities for broad participation by members in the process.
771 ''wI The collective bargaining process or collaborative agreements at the local 772 level and the legislative process at the state level are important means to rely 773 ;;~ on in the exploration and development of various reform proposals.
IS

774 • The discussion of reform proposals and the experience of other state federa-'.. I 775 tions and locals can provide valuable insights to state and local federations 776 about new approaches that can help us achieve our goals. AFT locals and 777 state federations have gained experience in successfully bargaining new 778 measures to enhance teachers' professional lives, as well as lobbying for 779 educational improvements at the state legislatures. We should make every 780 effort to firid ways to come together to share these experiences for the benefit 781 of all.
782 • Members can benefit from efforts by state federations to bring together locals 783 to achieve state education reforms. The coordinating role of the state federa•784 tion is crucial in the political debate surrounding education reform issues. A 785 strong state federation program is imperative to ensure the ability of the union 786 to provide effective leadership in education reform.
787 • State federations and local unions need to expand their political action 788 capacity so that reform activities requiring legislative activity or political 789 responses can be achieved. State federations and local unions are urged to 790 commit specific resources to achieve this goal.
791 • In developing programs to explore and implement education reform. we need 792 not draw resources away from our present activities but, rather. develop new 793 resources to meet the needs of our membership as a consequence of reform 794 proposals.
16

Hide Document

Citation

American Federation of Teachers, "The Revolution that is Overdue," in American Federation of Teachers Historical Collection Historical Collection, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University, Item #3480108, https://digital.library.wayne.edu/aft/items/show/112 (accessed September 21, 2017).

License

Creative Commons License