The Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN), composed of leaders from both the AFT and the NEA, issued a report representing their vision of what good public schools should do to improve student learning and to build a respected teaching profession. The link contains both the executive summary and the full report.

The report begins with this rationale:

With major changes to public education coming from top-down prescriptions in recent decades, schools have shifted from their original purpose – advancing the common good. More than 20 years ago, the National TURN began convening classroom teachers and teacher leaders for a series of open discussions around the country. We asked participants: How must we strengthen public education in ways that reflect the collective wisdom of teachers? How can public education, once again, become “the great equalizer” and the foundation for our democracy? How could it be made to benefit all our students, not just some? And how must we change, too, so that teachers and their unions become agents of needed improvements?

Our TURN: Revitalizing Public Education and Strengthening Democracy Through the Collective Wisdom of Teachers lays out a fresh, exciting, teacher-led vision on what it will take to improve our public education system and reestablish its rightful place as the cornerstone of our democracy. Drawing from research-based practices and the experiences and ideas of classroom teachers across the country about what works, we highlight creative and innovative solutions that place students at the center of learning, support teachers as professionals, promote equity, and advance negotiated agreements that improve student learning. The report provides a clear and compelling roadmap for education policymakers, practitioners and advocates alike towards a revitalized system of public education that benefits all our students.

And here is the vision:

Our TURN: Revitalizing Public Education and Strengthening Our Democracy Through the Collective Wisdom of Teachers

As teachers and teacher unionists, we believe that teaching and learning can be transformed if we embrace a new vision of education that rests on four pillars, each of which bears equal weight:

1. If we want schools to prepare student to be career and college ready, thoughtful citizens, and reflective human beings, then schools should be safe, learner-centered and well-resourced to serve the needs of each individual student.

2. If teachers are the most important in-school determinant of student learning, then teaching must be recognized as a true profession.

3. If America needs to tap into the talents of all students, irrespective of their background, then educational excellence must be inclusive and education redesign must be accompanied by changes in other aspects of students’ lives.

4. If all education policy must ultimately be about enhancing opportunities for students to learn, then collective bargaining (and other forms of collaborative decision-making) between teachers and management should always aim to advance student learning.

The Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN), a coalition of teachers and teacher union leaders from AFT and NEA union locals, was founded 20 years ago “to promote progressive reforms in education and in teacher unions.” To all who are engaged in the debate about the future of public education – whether practitioners or policymakers — this document lays out precisely what we aspire to.
We begin with our idea of what education, schools and classrooms could and should look like, then turn to the policies needed to bring about that vision.

It is a good report. It refutes the common refrain from corporate reformers that there is no alternative to their cramped and toxic practice of high-stakes testing and school choice. It is a public school response to the Betsy DeVos’ belief in the free market of charter schools and vouchers for religious schools.

This is a worthy presentation of a well-resourced public school system, staffed by experienced teachers whose collective voices are represented in the policymaking process, and whose voices carry more weight than those of the politicians who write unreasonable and impossible mandates.