Educators for Excellence-Chicago

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 Chicago, E4E teachers recently released Sounding the Alarm, a call to action to support students experiencing trauma, which disproportionately affects students growing up in low-income neighborhoods plagued by violence. The policy paper includes teacher-created recommendations aimed to help the school system better serve these students.

Since 2015, E4E-Chicago teachers have advocated for school funding reform at the state level, which recently resulted in a historic formula overhaul. Members hosted panel discussions with education stakeholders and elected officials, met with state legislators, published op-eds, and canvassed in neighboring districts in support of an evidence-based, more equitable school funding formula.

In past years, E4E-Chicago teachers also authored policy papers on teacher evaluation and professional development.

What have been your organization’s biggest accomplishments while exploring educator voice work?

E4E-Chicago is proud to be building an ecosystem that supports and values authentic educator voice in the education policy landscape, both at the district and state levels.

In Chicago, E4E-Chicago’s policy paper on professional development was a critical lever in establishing the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) Teacher Advisory Council. This Council, made up of teachers from across the district, meets monthly to engage in direct dialogue with CPS officials. Similarly, a group of E4E-Chicago educators working to improve teacher diversity and create more inclusive schools collaborated with the district to add training and professional development on these topics for CPS principals, which launched in the spring of 2017.

In Illinois, E4E-Chicago teachers wrote letters and participated in public listening sessions to provide feedback on Illinois’ ESSA plan. Educators specifically responded to the parts of the ESSA plan that intersected with previous E4E policy issues: professional development, teacher diversity, and teacher evaluation. E4E-Chicago teachers were likewise active participants in the statewide fight for equitable funding, lending their experiences and voices to the advocacy campaign that resulted in a reformed, evidence-based school funding formula.

In each of these instances, E4E-Chicago has worked hard to ensure that educators are empowered to identify problems, set the vision, and lead advocacy efforts so that E4E-Chicago educators feel ownership over the recommendations, policies, and advocacy campaigns that E4E adopts. As a result, E4E-Chicago educators are invested, engaged, and understand the value of raising their own voices as a part of the broader education ecosystem in our city and state.

What advice do you have for other advocacy organizations thinking about engaging educators?

It’s incredibly important to be intentional about building spaces and opportunities that support authentic educator engagement. In order to truly bring educator voice and experience into policy, we make strategic decisions about how to communicate with educators, when and where to host meetings and events, and how to celebrate and honor the work educators put in each and every day.

E4E-Chicago believes the experiences of educators are vital to making smart, impactful decisions in education policy. In order to truly leverage those experiences, it can be helpful to share additional knowledge and support the development of new skills. By doing this, E4E-Chicago is simply helping educators translate their experiences – and the experiences of their students – into recommendations that can drive policy change.


Recent Priorities

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.

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