Educator Voice Opportunities: Teacher Policy Fellowship
GO Public Schools strives to build coalitions of parents, educators, and community leaders to advocate for system-wide change. In addition to cultivating educator voice and leadership in broader coalitions, GO Public Schools facilitates their Teacher Policy Fellowship program. Since 2013, the Fellowship has provided year-long opportunities for educators to lead, learn, and think about the future of education in their city. GO Fellows are able to build their policy chops via research and discussion, develop strategies for challenging policy issues, and directly contribute to Oakland education policy.
Beginning in 2017, the Fellowship expanded to a two-year opportunity. Year 1 focuses on understanding the history and context of education policy in Oakland, while Year 2 offers the opportunity to create a policy advocacy project and use community organizing techniques to reach a common goal. During the Oakland Unified School District’s contract negotiations in 2017, GO Fellows released recommendations for strengthening new teacher support and career leadership opportunities in the district.
What have been your organization’s biggest accomplishments while exploring educator voice work?
GO’s biggest accomplishments in the realm of teacher voice have come in the last year. The Fellows of Cohort 4 were able to get private meetings with both the district and teacher’s union bargaining teams where they pitched their ideas for new teacher support and teacher leadership. Later on, we saw their recommendations included in initial proposals for bargaining the next teacher’s contract– a big win! Aside from their policy recommendations being taken seriously, just meeting with these groups is an experience that very few teachers get during their career. We were also able to expand to recruit the largest cohort we’ve ever had, with 18 Fellows from 8 district and 5 charter schools. These teachers have signed on for two years of learning and advocacy and I’m excited to see what other new experiences I can help connect them to.
Another recent milestone in GO’s educator voice work was launching a new Principal Budget Group in September 2017. The Principal Budget Group is a collective of OUSD Principals coming together to learn about the current financial challenges facing OUSD and determine the best ways to support the district to adopt budgeting best practices. This group is focusing on systems level changes that will support the long term financial stability of OUSD.
What advice do you have for other advocacy organizations thinking about engaging educators?
Educators have a high bar for what they want their learning experiences to look like (as they should!). Make sure you’re utilizing multiple modalities for learning and creating structures that give teachers time and space to process and discuss new topics.
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.