WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30, 2010 - New York State United Teachers delegates today approved a slate of innovative principles designed to help educators take the lead in defining excellence in pre-K through 12 and higher education, at its annual policy-making convention.
"As in any critically important field, practitioners must be at the center of defining and building excellence," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "And, as educators, we can recognize outstanding practitioners and excellence within our own ranks, who are well capable of defining excellence."
NYSUT's "Principles for Taking the Lead in Defining Excellence in P-12 Public Education" detail qualities of effective educators, administrators and schools, ranging from teachers participating as equal partners in the educational process, to having clear academic standards, curricula, skillful instruction, and fair and aligned assessments. Higher education principles include providing educational access for all students, allocating public funds to support higher education and investing in permanent full-time faculty and staff.
"This year, we move from demanding excellence to leading excellence," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira. The principles were introduced at the union's 38th annual Representative Assembly. "We are a statewide union committed to embracing and leading reform; and these principles will help us spearhead the charge for New York and the nation as we prepare students and schools for the 21st century."
Although NYSUT's principles are a major initiative, they are not the statewide union's first foray into setting benchmarks for professional achievement. Other initiatives include NYSUT-NEA Professional Learning Communities, a two-year program that provides professional development and hands-on training to selected NYSUT-represented districts; the NYSUT-AFT Innovation Fund Grant, which helps create meaningful teacher evaluation systems, improve teacher effectiveness and increase student learning; and National Board Certification, which continues to strengthen teacher quality and student achievement.
Some 3,000 union delegates and guests are participating in NYSUT's Representative Assembly. The RA runs April 29 - May 1. The principles are attached.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.
NYSUT Principles for Taking the Lead in Defining Excellence in P-12 Public Education
1. Only quality teachers should teach New York's learners. Quality teachers must be well prepared, supported with adequate resources, justly compensated, and fairly evaluated.
2. Comprehensive instruction, programs and services must be provided in a safe, healthy and orderly learning environment to ensure that the "whole child" is educated.
3. Quality school administration is characterized by appropriate and relevant preparation, professional collaboration and genuine accountability.
4. The participation of practitioners as equal partners ensures the development of quality educational goals. Quality educational decisions may only be reached through established and respected agreements between labor and management.
5. Quality teaching and learning encompasses clear academic standards, well- developed curricula, skillful instruction, and fair and aligned assessments. Strategies to improve teaching and learning must be informed by student needs, professional judgment, and multiple sources of thoroughly analyzed data.
6. Every member of the education community must share responsibility equally and be accountable for the quality of teaching and learning in our schools.
7. The local, state and federal governments must provide policies, programs, and funding to ensure that every student has access to a high-quality education.
NYSUT Principles for Taking the Lead in Defining Excellence in Higher Education
1. In the 21st century, higher education is essential for individual and societal well- being. A high school education is no longer adequate to prepare individuals for the challenges they face.
2. Access to higher education must be guaranteed to all students. It must be vigorously pursued, protected and equitably distributed.
3. Public funding to support higher education across the disciplines and professions is essential. The erosion of public dollars must be halted.
4. The focus of higher education must be on meeting the needs of a dynamic and changing student body. Quality higher education goes beyond attaining a degree.
5. Quality higher education requires investment in a permanent full-time faculty and staff. Part-time faculty and graduate employees make essential contributions to higher education, but colleges and universities must cease relying on a corps of underpaid faculty with little or no job security for their core mission of instruction.
6. Higher education's fundamental work of teaching and research requires that faculty and professional staff engaged in these activities be protected by academic freedom. Shared governance, peer review and collective bargaining for all academic workers protect bedrock rights and enhance the quality of education for students. Faculty rights to academic freedom, peer review, collective bargaining and shared governance cannot be compromised; professional employees must be offered the necessary sphere of autonomous decision-making within which they can exercise their best professional judgment.
7. The role of higher education in research and development must be supported with appropriate funding, resources and faculty.