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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: Teachers United

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January 15, 2015 at 6:39 PM

Guest: It’s time to get serious about keeping effective teachers

Nathan Gibbs-Bowling

Nathan Gibbs-Bowling

Two of the best humanities teachers I know left my district 18 months ago to teach abroad in Dubai, and now they are preparing to renew their contracts for two more years. After 10 years of teaching math, one of the best math teachers I know is seeking a teacher leadership post in another state.

Another one of my colleagues, a science teacher, recently told me about feeling exhausted and the need to leave the classroom in favor of a job in industry.

We have a looming teacher-retention crisis in Washington state and the most likely teachers to leave the career are often among our best, most impactful.

No one feels these losses more acutely than families living in poverty, for whom education is a way to the middle class. A great teacher is a powerful leader on that path.

Despite the talent drain, the public school system remains ill-prepared to attract and retain the excellent teachers that our students need, especially in high-poverty schools where turnover is even higher.

Great teachers have the ability to generate an additional five to six months of student learning in a year. A critical mass of great teachers in a building can be enough persuasion for other strong teachers to stay in the profession.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, teacher retention, Teachers United

August 15, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Former teacher focused on equity mulls run for state superintendent

Despite the highly politicized climate around education, there was little such rhetoric at the first Teachers United conference on Thursday. That may surprise some — like the handful of protesters gathered outside — who view the three-year-old organization as little more than a union-busting wedge.

True, Teachers United has supported charter schools and opposed several aspects of tenure, particularly the “last in, first out” seniority-based hiring policies that are dear to labor. Yet inside the Transformative Teaching Conference at UW’s Alder Hall, educators representing nearly 30 Washington school districts were learning from one another about adolescent brain science and promising trends in education technology.

Erin Jones speaking at the Teachers United conference on Thursday. Photo courtesy Kristina McCormick/Teachers United.

Erin Jones speaking at the Teachers United conference on Thursday. Photo courtesy Kristina McCormick/Teachers United.

Keynote speaker Erin Jones, however, may be a politician-in-the-making. In her half-hour talk, Jones, 43, a former English and foreign language teacher, discussed her mission to change the way educators are trained, as well as the eye-opening experience of watching her own African-American children navigate public schools.

“I’m never going to college because college is for white people,” Jones’ 6-year-old daughter said one evening at the dinner table.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Erin Jones, Randy Dorn, Teachers United