Last November 15, the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) held a special meeting for all Teach for America and DCPS Teaching Fellows to hear and address their issues first-hand . The discussion led by WTU President George Parker and WTU Director of Professional Development and Educational Issues Dorothy Egbufor provided teachers with a forum to voice concerns that affect their day to day work.
During the meeting, teachers expressed concerns about a variety of topics, including: compensation, outstanding summer stipend payments and reimbursements, credentialing, IMPACT, abrupt terminations for ineffective ratings prior to the school ending, professional development and failed promises on the delivery of a Master's degree and coursework through an accredited program. From the discussions, the WTU identified priorities for teaching fellows in our district and next steps for collaborating with the district and the leadership of the fellowship programs.
"This meeting was absolutely remarkable," stated Dorothy Egbufor. "The group was able to drill down to the real issues, which are immense in length, and identify key issues for discussion and resolution."
Meeting participants also completed a Needs-Assessment Survey on the effectiveness of their teacher preparation and potential support needed to be successful in their work. Some of the survey questions consisted of: In what ways is your in-service fellowship program meeting or not meeting your effectiveness? Are you experiencing any difficulty with the program? and What is your perception of the DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework and IMPACT?
The survey showed that the majority of the teaching fellows in attendance felt similarly about the DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework and the IMPACT Teacher Assessment System and believe that IMPACT is unfair and too subjective. When asked about IMPACT, one teacher stated, "Not enough has been done to make it into a positive system of support to help me become a better teacher." Another teacher said that the IMPACT system does not take into account that there are many variables in the classroom.
"We had a very comprehensive and productive discussion with the Teach for America teachers, DCPS teaching fellows, WTU Executive Board members and staff and look forward to additional candid discussions that are sorely needed," stated WTU President George Parker. "The WTU will be evaluating the surveys and reviewing additional feedback from the meeting to determine next steps in an effort to advocate for effective resolutions for our members." The WTU has scheduled a meeting with DCPS for early December to address the key concerns of the group.
Fellows who were unable to attend Monday's session are strongly encouraged to send any questions, additional concerns and comments to Dorothy Egbufor at firstname.lastname@example.org .