Education reform is on everybody's lips, and just about everybody has an idea for making schools better. The discourse is dominated by elected officials (or hopefuls), policy folks, academicians and researchers. And although we've heard plenty from the teachers unions, teachers themselves haven't really much of a platform. So, I was fascinated to learn about this new project called VIVA (Vision Idea Voice Action). The project just kicked off last Monday as an incubated initiative of the New York Charter Schools Association.
Here's how it works. There are two moderated online conversations -- one for teachers in New York, and one for teachers across the country -- and these websites allow classroom teachers to engage directly in education policy. They are tackling some meaty issues like Race to the Top and Title II, as well as teacher pay, burnout and class size. Best of all, their ideas will be presented directly to U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. A small group of these teachers will be asked to write a summary of the action plan they are crafting now, and then to come for a private meeting with Arne in Washington, D.C. or New York State Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch in Albany.
Classroom teachers helping to shape education policy...now, that's a novel idea, eh? I like it.
The conversation will be going on for the next three weeks.