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How Unions Should Lead

Read a Blog from E4E’s Teacher Board Members about how they want their unions to lead

As members of Educators for Excellence, united under the framework of the Declaration of Teachers’ Principles and Beliefs, we are pro-union and pro-change. 

We believe in the power and importance of our teachers’ unions. As the main entity that holds power and influence over every level of education decision, we see unions as a driving force for social and racial justice. 

Unions and our education system more broadly are at a critical inflection point. It is essential that teachers’ unions rise to the dual challenges of radically improving the education system for our students, particularly those who have been impacted by inequitable opportunities, while also elevating the teaching profession and better reflecting the diverse views and interests of their educator members.

We will fight for a more student-focused, anti-racist, democratic teachers’ union that elevates the teaching profession and improves outcomes for students because we have great hope in our unions as a powerful lever for progress.

Our Vision For Our Unions

Transformational teachers unions are student-focused. They consider every decision through a lens of how students will be impacted, prioritizing choices that promote equity and excellence for all of our children, particularly those who have been traditionally under-served by our school system. 

Transformational teachers unions elevate the teaching profession, leading the charge for high quality instruction for every student, embracing differentiation to allow great teachers to stay and grow, and setting the tone of conversations to ensure teachers are treated with dignity and respect.

Transformational teachers unions are actively anti-racist in words and actions. They recognize that racism exists within the union, its members, and within the education system more broadly. They fight for policies and practices to reverse the negative impacts of systemic inequity based on race, even those that challenge their own power or history.

Transformational teachers unions are democratic, truly guided and governed by their members. They focus on engaging, educating, and enfranchising their members to enable meaningful participation, diverse voices, and new ideas.

  • Recognize the connection between our students’ educational outcomes and prospects for social and economic equity in our broader society, and therefore focus on improving educational outcomes as their central goal
  • Prioritize equity and excellence in their policy proposals and priorities, centering the needs in particular of vulnerable student communities, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC); students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students, English Learners, students experiencing housing insecurity, and students from low-income households
  • See themselves as an extension of the public education system, and are therefore accountable to not only their members, but also to the community of students and families where they serve
  • Bargain for the common good of this broader school community – fighting for social and racial justice within the education system and beyond  

  • Promote research-based, culturally responsive instructional practices, innovative teaching practices, and differentiated pedagogy to ensure teachers are truly reaching all students
  • Recognize that to recruit and retain diverse, talented educators, they must empower teachers to grow their expertise, exercise professional autonomy, and expand their leadership throughout their careers
  • Use multiple measures of educator effectiveness, and not just seniority, to determine pay and career path opportunities
  • Advocate for pay and benefits that better reflect teachers’ tremendous contributions to our students and our society more broadly
  • Foster the creation of positive, healthy, and collaborative workplaces that allow teachers to thrive professionally

  • Believe that teaching well is an anti-racist practice because educational attainment shapes all future life outcomes
  • Look inward and reckon with the history and current reality of how institutional racism pervades school systems and the labor movement itself, then seeking healing, reconciliation, and reparation in their policies, practices, and leadership
  • Examine their policies and practices for disparate impact upon students and teachers of color and act swiftly to remedy them, confronting the implicit biases of their members when needed and moving them to counteract those biases
  • Uplift leadership of educators who reflect the diversity of the students and communities whom they serve
  • Equip teachers to understand and infuse their teaching with their students’ multifaceted identities, strengths, experiences, histories, and cultures

  • Listen to and engage all members consistently in key decisions impacting them and their students
  • Encourage robust discussion and diverse perspectives of members to inform their procedures and policy positions, recognizing the strength that comes from hard-fought consensus within a democratic institution
  • Enable broad member participation in key decisions through transparent and accessible voting procedures
  • Leverage collaborative, interest-based approaches to relationships with management and collective bargaining, demonstrating a willingness to come together to serve the interests of students