October 11, 2016

Who we are… and who we are not

Sarah Zuckerman • Executive Director, E4E-Boston

As Educators for Excellence (E4E) launches in Boston, we have had early questions on who are are and what we do. First and foremost, we are here for students. In Boston, while there are many examples of excellence, deep inequities still persist, and we will not stop until each and every child has what they need. Teachers lead our work, and we are excited to work with Boston teachers on behalf of their students. Let me take a moment to set the record straight on some questions that have been raised about our work.

Who Are We: E4E is a national nonprofit working to elevate the teaching profession and improve outcomes for our students by ensuring that educators have a meaningful voice in education decisionmaking. We envision an elevated, prestigious teaching profession in which educators are leaders both in and outside of their classrooms, driving positive outcomes for students. In the six years since the organization was founded, it has grown to 22,000 members, with more than 80 percent belonging to a union, with six chapters in New York, Los Angeles, Connecticut, Chicago, Minnesota and now Boston. Teachers in our chapters have written policy papers, met with elected officials and most importantly brought about positive change in their schools.

How We Do It: To achieve these outcomes, E4E works to change education policy at the district, state and federal levels. Our members lead the charge for change by building a movement of forward-thinking educators through grassroots organizing; identifying, training and supporting teacher leaders to take on key leadership positions in their schools, districts, states and unions; creating teacher-led policy recommendations on issues selected by local educators; and advocating for implementation of those ideas through teacher-driven campaigns.

Our Funding Model: Let me be clear: Each and every issue E4E works on is determined by our teacher members — not funders. Every policy paper and each recommendation is led by teacher members‚Äô input, research and advocated for through teacher-led actions. We are supported by hundreds of national and local non-profit foundations, corporate foundations, family foundations and individual donors; all of which are listed on our website. To encourage our broad base of support, no single E4E donor contributes more than 10 percent of our projected annual operating budget. Our funders support our work because they believe in the power of teacher voice. Where we cannot control every interest or investment of funders, we fully support directing more philanthropic funding toward teachers.

Our Membership: We are teacher-led, pro-union and pro-change. Pre-K through 12th-grade public school educators read and sign our teacher-written Declaration of Principles and Beliefs to become members of E4E. Signing the Declaration doesn’t mean every E4E member thinks exactly the same thing, but E4E members do have a shared vision of education and what’s best for students and teachers. Becoming an E4E member means joining a community of teachers who are taking their profession into their own hands and standing up to advocate for what they believe is best for students and teachers.

If we are going to address the deep educational inequities in this country, great teachers closest to this work must lead this charge. As a union member and teacher for ten years, as well as a former public school student and a mother of two boys, I am deeply committed to ensuring we improve and strengthen systems from within. That was my work as a teacher, and continues to be our work as we launch this chapter in Boston.

When each and every student in our schools is able to reach their full potential as a result of our public education system, we will rest. Until then, we look forward to working with Boston teachers, to do the hard and important work to help every student be successful. We believe that by coming together we are stronger, and in that spirit, will work diligently to partner with our union, our district and other community-based organizations.

If you have a question about our work, or want to learn more, please reach out to us. Lastly, thanks again for your support – I believe that by working collaboratively we are better.

Sarah Zuckerman