Educator Voice Opportunities: Teacher Policy Teams
Educators for Excellence (E4E) works to ensure that the voices of classroom teachers are included in the decisions that affect their profession and students. E4E teachers take action in three main ways: advocating for teacher leadership and collaboration at their schools, pushing for policies at the district and state level that include E4E teacher-created recommendations, and getting involved with their unions to ensure their opinions are represented.
In the country’s first public school system, E4E-Boston teachers are collaborating on student-centered ideas to improve student outcomes and educational equity. Their most recent campaign aims to increase counselor-to-student ratios as part of creating trauma-informed school environments. In Schools that Heal, E4E-Boston Teacher Policy Team shared related recommendations for more effectively supporting students who have experienced trauma.
What have been your organization’s biggest accomplishments while exploring educator voice work?
Within a year of our founding, E4E-Boston released its teacher-written policy paper, Schools that Heal, which encompasses district and city-level policy recommendations to create trauma-informed schools. While a team of 8 teachers led the process of authoring the paper, the ideas were cultivated by organizing nearly 500 teachers through focus groups, surveys, and one-on-one conversations. Once the paper was released, another 500 teachers were engaged in the process of identifying the priority advocacy issues. In one calendar year, one thousand teachers were engaged in issue selection, policy formulation and advocacy prioritization. And, our teachers have further grown their policy and advocacy leadership by writing op-eds, testifying at state legislative hearings, and testifying at city council hearings to advocate for the changes they want to see for their students and for their own professional growth.
What advice do you have for other advocacy organizations thinking about engaging educators?
Educators have more advocacy skills than they often realize. Unlocking their potential, empowering them with tools to advocate, and seeing how educators can transform the conversation in policy to one that is more student-focused is incredible to witness. When working to engage educators, it’s essential to be mindful of their busy schedules and find creative solutions to keep them engaged.
Anything else that advocates should know?
Teachers have traditionally been left out of policy conversations. Shifting that dynamic by engaging them in the policy-making process is truly transformational, both for the policies that are created through this collaborative approach and for the educators, themselves, who grow their leadership in a variety of ways. When educators are at the table, they bring expertise and a student-focus crucial to strengthening policy solutions. At the same time, educators emerge from this process with a new confidence about what is possible and the roles they can play – as teachers, policymakers, and advocates – in making our school communities stronger to better serve students.
The topics below represent this member’s recent priorities, as they’ve reported through the annual PIE Network legislative and policy survey. If no priorities are listed, this member is new to the Network and/or has not yet participated in this survey. For much greater detail about all PIE Network members’ recent campaigns, members can access the PIE Network Policy Map here. If you have questions on the PIE Network legislative and policy survey or the Policy Map, contact Lukas.