CEC Awarded $2 Million to Increase Teacher Leadership in School Improvement; Project Will Expand Work with Teacher Unions

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The Consortium for Educational Change and the five regional Teacher Union Reform Networks will expand efforts to help educators and unions lead the education reform movement on policies, programs, and practices that impact schools, teaching, and learning.

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There is clear evidence that policies and programs that truly impact teaching effectiveness result when teacher unions and management collaborate as equal partners. Each stakeholder brings a unique understanding and knowledge-base that must be considered.

The Consortium for Educational Change (CEC), an Illinois-based network of teacher unions, school districts, and professional organizations that work to make school systems more collaborative, high-performing organizations, today announced $2 million in support of the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN), a national network of American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association union locals. CEC received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for this work.

With this funding, the five TURN regional networks will expand efforts to help educators and unions to lead the education reform movement on policies, programs, and practices that impact schools, teaching, and learning. The effort will be managed by CEC.

“Union involvement makes school improvement and sustainable student achievement possible,” said Mary Jane Morris, executive director of CEC. “There is clear evidence that policies and programs that truly impact teaching effectiveness result when teacher unions and management collaborate as equal partners. Each stakeholder brings a unique understanding and knowledge-base that must be considered.”

Currently, few venues exist within union organizations where difficult issues impacting teaching and learning conditions can be addressed as union issues by union leaders. “Within the union community, TURN and its regional networks provide opportunities to discuss these important topics in an enriched and collaborative way,” explains Mary McDonald, Great Lakes TURN co-director.

Patrick Dolan, founder and leader of Dolan and Associates and a voice for union reform for decades, will work with CEC and the TURN regions on the project.
“TURN locals are real unions, representing their membership in sound ways that embrace good teaching and learning. They are on the front edge of reform, seeking a more powerful professional voice for educators, guided by solid research and the skills and interests of their members,” said Dolan. “This grant will enable growth of new and more professional unions.”

Progressive Union-Led Reform through TURN
Through this project, which is supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CEC and TURN will:

  •     Expand work on improvements in the teaching profession and increases in student achievement by the CalTURN in California, Great Lakes TURN, Mid-Atlantic/Southeast TURN, Northeast TURN, and Southwest TURN.
  •     Build labor/management partnerships within TURN locals to enhance policies and programs that focus on teachers’ professional growth to improve teaching and learning.
  •     Facilitate deeper discussions on teacher evaluation, meaningful measures of student growth, teaching excellence, and other educational policies and programs.
  •     Encourage and support teacher unions and their leaders to become more effective partners for creating a true teaching profession and developing more effective schools for all students.

About TURN
Formed in 1986, TURN (http://www.turnexchange.net) is a union-led effort to restructure teachers unions to promote reforms that lead to better learning and higher achievement for all students. TURN’s goal is to explore, develop, and demonstrate models that lead to the restructuring of unions so that they will become more responsible and more responsive to students’ needs.

TURN regional networks explore issues related to education reform and the role of teacher unions in advancing the cause of public education and encouraging the collaboration of unions with other stakeholders in public education. Among their goals, TURN regions and locals seek consistently higher levels of student achievement by:

  •     Continuously improving the quality of teaching.
  •     Promoting in public education and in the union democratic dynamics, fairness, and due process for all.
  •     Seeking to expand the scope of collective bargaining to include instructional and professional issues.
  •     Improving on an ongoing basis the terms and conditions under which both adults and children work and learn.

About CEC
CEC (http://cecillinois.org), a non-profit organization affiliated with the Illinois Education Association, works with teachers, school and district administrators, school boards, and unions to improve student learning and achievement. Founded in 1987, CEC has more than 80 district members. To become a CEC member, the teachers’ union president, school board president and district superintendent must all agree to work together to improve student learning and achievement. Funded in part by the Illinois Education Association, CEC leaders are members of the Great Lakes TURN region.

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