What role will teacher-voice groups play?

center for american progressA new report by Kaitlin Pennington of the Center for American Progress highlights the increase of teacher-voice groups. These groups allow teachers to continue teaching while also having a chance to impact education policy more directly. Furthermore, they provide current teachers with more active leadership positions. In addition, these groups allow for a greater multiplicity of teacher voices than those heard through the normal channels of the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association.

The report, “New Organizations, New Voices: The Landscape of Today’s Teachers Shaping Policy”, surveys the opinion of many teachers involved in these teacher-voice groups and also surveys current secondary sources about this new phenomenon in order to evaluate what the ongoing role of these groups might be. The report analyzes why teacher-voice organizations and fellowships are gaining momentum across the country, as well as outlines their unique place in the education-reform debate and whether or not these organizations will spark a broader teacher-voice movement.

While there are certainly divergent opinions among the teacher-voice groups, Pennington found several salient points that stood out across the many groups that she investigated:

  • Each organization or fellowship was formed using a unique grassroots model.
  • Teacher-voice organizations and fellowships operate under the premise that teacher voice is not monolithic.
  • Despite differences in structure, all of these teacher-voice organizations and fellowships are working on ways to professionalize the teaching profession.
  • Technology is integral to all organizations and fellowships either as a driver of programs offered or as a link to connect participants.
  • All teacher-voice organizations and fellowships respect the history of teachers unions and see them as powerful players with which to partner.
  • Teacher-voice organization and fellowship membership is diverse.
  • Funding often comes from outside sources.
  • Organizations and fellowships overlap in some policy interests, but the mix is unique to each group.

Whatever the position of each individual teacher-voice group, these groups offer hope that new policy will be implemented more efficiently because teachers have been involved throughout the process.

For more information, including a link to the pdf of the full report, please visit: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2013/06/18/66800/new-organizations-new-voices/