Educators for Excellence (E4E)
- June 2014: $30,000 grant for general operating support for New York programs
- May 2013: $30,000 grant for general operating support for New York programs
- March 2012: $30,000 grant for general operating support for New York programs
- February 2011: $10,000 grant for general operating support
America’s public schools are largely failing their students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 35 percent of eighth grade students were proficient in math while 34 percent were proficient in reading in 2011.* Approximately 30 percent of students do not graduate from high school and, of the 70 percent who do graduate, only a quarter are prepared for English, reading, math and science classes in college (ACT, 2011).**
Given these shocking statistics, education reform—particularly teacher performance—has been at the forefront of public debates. Implementing such reforms into public policy, however, has been difficult. Historically, teachers unions, politicians, and public policymakers have led the debate, focusing primarily on the interests of teachers rather than students.
Educators for Excellence (E4E) was the first organization established to ensure that the voices of classroom teachers were included in the decisions that affect their profession and their students. Founded in March 2010 by two New York City public school teachers, E4E is grounded in the belief that student success is based on the quality of teacher instruction. The organization seeks to provide an independent voice for educators, reform this broken system from within, and represent innovative teachers outside of the classroom.
E4E has grown a free-of-charge membership network of teachers through grassroots teacher-to-teacher recruitment. In order to join, members must sign the “Declaration of Teachers’ Principles and Beliefs” a document that describes how these teachers are committed to improving their work for the benefit of students. Methods include standing up against tenure and seniority-based layoffs, supporting professionalism and effective teacher evaluations, and making student achievement a priority.
The organization continually educates its members about the best educational practices and policies by compiling research and studies and distributing them through weekly emails. In addition, E4E organizes teams of 15-20 teachers to craft policy recommendations and hosts networking events, panels, and discussions for members to meet with key education policymakers. Furthermore, it helps member teachers run for union positions and mobilizes outreach efforts among its members to communicate with their elected officials regarding E4E’s student focused positions.
Teachers who are reform-minded and focused on student achievement, innovation, and professional accountability have previously not been involved in education policy conversations. E4E has done an excellent job in organizing these teachers in order to increase their influence.
In just over four years, E4E has expanded to include 12,000 teachers in New York City, Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Connecticut. The New York City chapter includes 8,700 members, more than 10% of the city’s teaching population. Of the 8,700 teachers, 88% are in traditional public schools and 63% are within their first nine years on the job. They represent all five boroughs and over 375 public and charter schools.
E4E has already begun to influence public policy. Its policy recommendations on teacher layoffs and evaluations were incorporated into legislation and budgeting in New York and, in 2013, the group produced a set of recommendations for Common Core implementation. In addition, each year E4E has written two to three white papers that detail its policy recommendations.
The organization has also affected union membership and voting. E4E helped elect 65 teacher members into union positions, which embodies its “reform from within” approach. The group also hosted panel discussions with the New York City Chancellor, Deputy Chancellors, and Education Commissions in an effort to have teachers directly communicate with public policy officials. Its membership, public policy, and mobilization efforts have not gone without notice. Educators for Excellence has been mentioned, featured, or cited in the media nearly 400 times since 2011. Educators’ voices are now being heard.