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NEA Members Leading the Professions to Transform Schools

Four union-made, union-led programs were showcased at NEA’s Annual Meeting in a “Leading the Professions Forum” where delegates heard from affiliate programs in four states.

“Teachers and Education Support are doing phenomenal work around the country,” said Becky Pringle, NEA Secretary-Treasurer, who co-hosted the forum with Vice President Lily Eskelsen. “And we as an organization have to find the best ways to support them.”

Panelists Juan Trujillo, left, Rhonda Johnson, Doug Prouty and Robert Goodman

Photo: Kevin Lock/NEA

Teacher Preparation in Ohio

In 2009 Ohio State University and Columbus City Schools (CCS) launched Project ASPIRE, a teaching preparation program that strengthens the CCS teaching workforce in mathematics, science and foreign languages.

The “teachers-in-training” receive targeted, extended support for developing their skills to become effective urban teachers. Part of the support is a teacher residency program that begins in the pre-service years and extends into the first years of teaching, which aligns with a new state mandate for a four-year guided induction program for all beginning teachers.

“The Columbus Education Association (CEA) has been involved by agreeing that the participants of ASPIRE would be the first teachers hired in CCS,” said Rhonda Johnson, president of CEA. “We’d never had a shot at deciding new hires before, and these are absolutely the best teachers who come into the classroom, ready to go from day one.”

Educator Evaluations in Maryland

“We need to take responsibility for raising teacher quality,” said Doug Prouty, president of the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), where the Peer Assistance and Review Program -- a unique labor-management partnership -- is transforming teacher evaluation.

“At first there was resistance from some members who were reluctant to having their peers give them feedback, and some administrators were reluctant to give up some of their power,” Prouty said. “But in practice, the peer system builds trust and collaboration at all levels and improves the quality of feedback, which improves practice.”

Home Visits in Oregon

About 25 teachers and education support professionals (ESPs) from Salem-Keizer Public Schools participate in the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project (PTHVP), a national effort based in Sacramento, California.

“We’ve learned that parents and educators are equally important as co-educators,” said Juan Trujillo, a member of the Salem-Keizer Education Support Professionals (ASK-ESP).

The participating schools in Salem-Keizer have a history of low student achievement, but the home visit project is helping students succeed by engaging their parents in the education process, which research consistently shows raises achievement.

Transforming Teaching in New Jersey

The New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning (NJCTL) empowers teachers to be leaders -- especially in the subjects of science and math.

Access to physics is a national problem, for instance only half the high schools in New York City offer physics. 

NJCTL took this problem on in New Jersey. “Teaching is hard, but science is easy,” says NJCTL Executive Director and former high school science teacher Robert Goodman. “So we have some of the best high school physics teachers teaching teachers from other subject areas physics, and how to teach it.”

The NJCTL program produced three times as many physics teachers as New Jersey area colleges and universities combined, Goodman said.

“We’re changing the futures and lives of students,” he said.

For information on how to support programs where NEA members are leading the professions, visit The Network of the Willing (NOW!) is a coalition of individuals, affiliates, and organizations – internal and external to NEA – who are willing to partner with the NEA and its members in efforts to be leaders of the education profession.


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