New York State United Teachers (NYSUT): "Making of a Profession"

In this speech, Al Shanker discusses the need for teachers to make their profession into one seen as just that: a profession. He says that in order for teachers to assert themselves as experts who should be consulted on education policy decisions, teachers' unions need to move beyond collective bargaining to focus on professionalization. Shanker argues that should be trusted to make decisions without supervision and legislation. This trust, he argues, would foster enthusiasm and pride in teachers, and new teachers could be more easily recruited. Shanker lists several practical things that could contribute to this educational revolution: creating and implementing a national teachers' examination that would include subject specific information, pedagogical questions, and a supervised internship of up to three years; time and emphasis given for teachers to create collegial relationships so that they interact with other professionals and not just with their students; that despite the self-interest inherent in collective bargaining, educators need to be seen as having the interest of the students and parents at heart; that there be more flexible freedom of movement for both students and teachers between classes within a school and between different schools within a city; the creation of a national teachers' board that could help with a variety of issues like textbook selection and provision of professional oversight on charges of incompetence against teachers; and the award of extra pay, funded by teachers' colleges, to those teachers who supervise student teachers and interns. He also suggests that the number of teachers be cut dramatically and only career teachers who have passed the examination be paid a much higher salary. Then, the remaining positions would be filled with recent college graduates who want to spend a few years in service and earning student loan forgiveness.

Niagara Falls, NY
55 pages
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