Education Commentary

Excerpts of Unions’ Stands on Selected Topics

May 30, 2017 4 min read


N.E.A.: “We believe our nation’s public schools must be totally restructured if they are to meet the needs of our students and our rapidly changing society.”

A.F.T.: “The second stage of education reform should seek the full professionalization of teaching and the restructuring of public schools to promote student learning.”

N.E.A.:“The starting teacher salary in the United States should be not less than $24,000, with raises equivalent to those in comparable professions .... N.E.A. is unalterably opposed to so-called merit-pay plans.”

A.F.T.:"[S]tate-mandated minimum teacher salaries must be designed on a state-by-state basis to make entering salaries for new teachers reasonably competitive with entering salaries in that state for other professions requiring comparable education and training.”

Differential Salaries

N.E.A.:“Additionally, the N.E.A. is opposed to any alternative compensation plans that act as a substitute for I the proportionate across-the-board salary increases all teachers need I and deserve.”

A.F.T.:“As an incentive to attracting ~ and hiring teachers i all areas of shortages, as they develop, the A.F.T. recommends that locals and school districts consider placing entering teachers in areas of shortage on higher steps of the salary schedule.”

Education and Introduction

N.E.A.:“We believe every teacher must have a strong background in the liberal arts and a teaching specialty. Teachers also need a solid understanding of effective teaching strategies and learning theory.”

“To graduate, teacher-education students must be able to demonstrate that they can apply their knowledge and skills in a variety of settings. We believe strongly that colleges of education must have sufficient resources to provide their students with opportunities to apply what they have learned in their courses to actual classroom situations under the supervision of practicing teachers.”

“All newly hired teachers will be systematically assisted and supported at the individual school-building level.”

A.F.T.:“All teacher-education candidates should have a broadly based, liberal arts undergraduate education, with at least one subject major.

“All prospective teachers should have a well-structured induction program that includes a one-year internship (for which they could be paid as intern teachers) under the supervision of an experienced, knowledgeable teacher.”

“All beginning teachers should be reviewed and assessed by experienced teachers who are prepared for this responsibility. The induction program should also involve a residency as a beginning teacher beyond the internship. Peer assistance and review would be applied throughout the residency.”

“Experienced teachers should be involved in the planning and development of internship, residency, and peer programs, through the agreement of their union.”

Teacher Evaluation

N.E.A.:“There must be a comprehensive personnel evaluation system in every school district, a system that is mutually designed and agreed upon through collective bargaining between teachers and school officials.”

“No education association can force--or wants to force--a school district to retain an incompetent educator. What teachers want is fair, competent, and regular evaluations of the jobs they do. For such an evaluation system to be effective, teachers also want procedural guarantees and due process.”

A.F.T.: “Following implementation of high-quality teacher internship and residency programs and when teacher-directed professional growth opportunities are a regular part of the school program, peer assistance and intervention should be used to safeguard standards within the profession.”

“Intensive evaluations of certified teachers should occur only when serious problems are evident.”

School Management

N.E.A.:“lt is time to return authority to school building staff, to strengthen the ability of the school staff to manage schools. Teachers do not want to “take over” the management of schools. We do want the ability to impact the decisions that affect our students. Teachers must be involved in all decisions that affect instruction.”

A.F.T.:“School-site autonomy must be increased, with greater decision-making power invested in classroom teachers.”

“As progress is made in restructuring schools, the A.F.T. supports an even greater distinction than currently exists between the roles of teachers and those who do not teach. Teachers should assume the appropriate instructional and curricular functions currently exercised by those who do not teach. Teachers should be the instructional leaders of the schools.”

Differentiated Staffing

N.E.A.:“There will be no hierarchical staffing systems within the teaching profession.”

A.F.T.:“Teachers should have a variety of opportunities for performing professional roles and advancing within the teaching profession, while continuing to be practicing teachers. Teachers should also have the option of working on 10-, 11-, or 12-month contracts in order to perform professional responsibilities while retaining their status as teachers.”

“Teaching must be structured as a lifetime career. Teaching and traditional administration/management must be considered as two separate careers, and teachers’ salaries should not be limited by the salaries paid to administrators/managers.”


N.E.A.:“Teachers, parents, and students will hold school and community officials accountable for providing conditions for successful teaching and learning.”

A.F.T.:""Central school system administration and state governments ... should monitor the progress of schools. However, regulation and intervention should be applied to the school site only if the school fails to meet minimum learning-input standards. “

A version of this article appeared in the September 10, 1986 edition of Education Week as Excerpts of Unions’ Stands on Selected Topics

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