Press InquiresFor press inquiries, please contact
The NY Post | 07.27.12
The following article appeared in The New York Post July 27 2012
By Anna Hall
As Gov. Cuomo’s new Education Reform Commission begins to map out the policies needed to improve New York’s public schools, its members should continually ask themselves a single question: Would this lead to better teachers in our classrooms?
As a former teacher, United Federation of Teachers chapter chair and principal at Bronx Academy of Letters, I’ve learned first-hand that the most important factor in a child’s success is the caliber of her teacher.
Nothing could be more true for my students at Letters — who, despite near-universal poverty and a wide range of learning levels, have consistently graduated high school and gone on to college at rates much higher than their peers across the city.
We’ve done a lot to ensure their success — from including AP, honors and elective classes in the core curriculum to providing opportunities to study abroad and pursue internships. But these outcomes have only been possible because we’ve recruited and developed an extraordinary team of teachers.
The Bronx Letters team, as in many schools, is composed of both experienced educators with demonstrated records of success and new teachers who show incredible promise. Once our teachers come on board, our leadership team works with them to invest thoughtfully in their growth.
Together, we set goals, assess progress, provide coaching and feedback and support the pursuit of professional-development opportunities like National Board certification, regular mentor meetings and sponsored summer travel and study.
Developing this team hasn’t been easy — union regulations and the rules that govern teachers’ certification, evaluation, tenure and opportunities for advancement often defy research and common sense. But our investment has paid off: Our most effective teachers have generally stayed with us for four to seven years.
Thanks to our teachers, Bronx Letters’ kids prove every day that profound challenges outside of school — in their case, coming from the nation’s poorest congressional district — don’t preclude excellence within it. It’s time we give every New York student this chance.
We’ve made significant progress improving New York’s public schools over the last decade, and the appointment of the Reform Commission signals that our leaders are dedicated to building on this success.
To that end, I urge the commission to focus on new ways to recruit, retain and reward the best educators.
Some ideas to consider:
* Accelerate the rate of recruitment by establishing alternative pathways to teacher certification.
* Support school leaders in evaluating teachers rigorously — and moving those who are ineffective out of the classroom. That includes eliminating or scaling back automatic and universal tenure.
* Require all new collective-bargaining agreements to reward top teaching talent — and provide state matching funds for district money spent on recruiting and rewarding such talent.
I am deeply committed to this movement. That’s why I’ve made the difficult decision to leave my post as principal at Bronx Letters and devote my energy to advocating for broad-based policy and political change.
This change, of course, starts with ensuring every child has a great teacher. I look forward to working on an array of initiatives to recruit and retain the best teachers, with the goal of producing better outcomes for students.
When it comes to improving the system, the solutions are right in front of us. If we continue to act with courage and common sense, we can change the game for kids in New York.
Anna Hall is the incoming director of education for StudentsFirstNY.
When someone has a lot at stake - whether they are a Fortune 500 company, a major issue advocacy group, or institution - and they want someone to professionally manage their campaign for them, they hire us. We develop the underlying strategy, we help put together the team, and then we run the campaign through to completion, day in, day out.