Educators 4 Excellence Welcomes 200 New Members in LA

The New York City-based Educators 4 Excellence have said that nearly 200 Los Angeles teachers have joined the organization — part of a growing faction of groups that have successfully challenged old-guard labor leaders to overhaul the nation's schools, writes Stephanie Banchero at the Wall Street Journal.

"When teachers are fully informed and empowered, they hold themselves and their students to high expectations," said Ama Nyamekye, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter and a former New York City teacher.

The Los Angeles school district and union leaders are currently locked in tough contract negotiations. Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) is one of a few groups having great success working both unions and independents to encourage teachers to become more active in reshaping local policies on teacher evaluation, tenure and layoffs.

The organization has recently signed a declaration calling for linking teacher evaluations to student test scores and ending policies that allow the least veteran teachers to be laid off first.

But not everyone is keen to have them involved. Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City:

"It hurts the morale of the teachers when you have outside groups trying to force an agenda," he said.

Despite older teachers beginning to show interest and join the groups, it tends to be those that are new to the profession who are more likely to get involved.

April Bain, a 29–year-old math teacher at Downtown Magnets High School in Los Angeles, said she joined E4E in part because she was worried about layoffs.

"It doesn't seem right to just make an Excel spreadsheet of start dates and just start deleting the first 200 rows," she said.

"I'm new to this, but I want to be part of the process to find a better way to make those decisions."

It is thought that younger educators are more inclined to join as they feel more comfortable and welcoming than veteran teachers using data to alter their teaching methods and to judge their performance.

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