Teaching Profession

Teachers’ Unions Seize Opportunity To Provide Supplemental Services

By Linda Jacobson — June 16, 2004 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Neither of the nation’s two major teachers’ unions has trouble finding fault with the many provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act nor with how much the Bush administration is spending to help states and districts implement the law.

The report on supplemental services is available online from the U.S. Department of Education. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

But complaints over the structure of the federal legislation haven’t stopped two affiliates of the American Federation of Teachers from actually providing one of the critical services available to students who have fallen behind in school.

The Rochester Teachers Association in New York and the Toledo Federation of Teachers in Ohio have both become approved supplemental-service providers in their states and are working with their districts to tutor children from low-income families and those who are struggling academically. Both are known for their innovative leadership.

“While most unions were busy trying to figure out how to fight NCLB, we figured out how to do intellectual jujitsu here,” said Adam Urbanski, the president of the Rochester union.

That local already had a nonprofit organization, supported by members’ dues and the United Way, called the Leadership for Reform Institute. It has been running homework-assistance programs for 23 years.

So becoming a supplemental-service provider was a natural step to take, Mr. Urbanski said.

“We have a long-standing track record of helping kids with schoolwork,” he added. “Our biggest problem is accommodating the demand.”

The tutoring sessions, which are each limited to four or five students, are held after school hours, in the schools the youngsters attend. That way, Mr. Urbanski said, the tutors, who are district teachers, often know the children and can confer with their regular classroom teachers.

‘Top Priority’

Sixty tutors worked this past school year with 250 students at one elementary and two middle schools in the 36,500-student district. Other providers work elsewhere in the district.

The tutors tailor their help to the needs of the school, said Debbi Jackett, the second vice president of the Rochester union. For example, one of the two middle schools wanted to focus on students who were supposed to be 9th graders, but were still in 8th grade this year because they failed one test.

At the elementary school, the tutors worked with children in kindergarten through 2nd grade.

“It’s going to depend on that particular building at what their needs are,” Ms. Jackett said.

Under the No Child Left Behind law, eligible students—usually meaning those who qualify for subsidized lunches or are low-performing academically— are offered supplemental educational services if their schools haven’t made “adequate yearly progress” after three years.

Tutoring can be offered after two years if the district can’t offer parents the choice of another school in which to enroll their child.

In Toledo, where about 400 students have been served this year at 11 sites, the tutoring has been provided by the Reading Academy, a joint project of the teachers’ union and the district.

“The top priority of both union and management is student achievement,” said Francine Lawrence, the president of the affiliate. “And our people have talents that are unique to the needs of our district.”

Craig Cotner, the chief academic officer for the 35,600-student Toledo district, agreed that the partnership has proved beneficial.

“We have teachers who are highly trained in how to be successful reading teachers,” he said.

Concerns Remain

Both the Rochester and Toledo districts were showcased in a report and guidebook about supplemental services released last month by the U.S. Department of Education. Secretary of Education Rod Paige also recently visited Toledo to highlight the way the district has set up its supplemental-services program.

The report, “Innovations in Education: Creating Strong Supplemental Educational Services Programs,” doesn’t specifically mention either union. But it does urge districts to form relationships with local tutoring providers, even though the state officially approves providers.

“Clear district-provider communication, starting at first connection, can lead to specific agreements and contracts that smooth the way for and support effective services to students,” the report says. “From this solid base, even stronger programs and partnerships can be built over time.”

The Toledo union’s good working relationship with the district, however, didn’t stop Ms. Lawrence from speaking out about what she sees as continuing problems with the federal education law and the Bush administration’s priorities.

When Mr. Paige visited Marshall Elementary School to highlight the Reading Academy’s work, Ms. Lawrence issued a statement about spending public dollars on the public, but largely independent, charter schools.

“If President Bush really wanted to support effective programs like the Reading Academy, he would fully fund NCLB so that key programs wouldn’t have to be cut and programs that work could be expanded to benefit more students,” she said in a press release at the time.

Union and school officials in both Toledo and Rochester say that even though they don’t have scientific proof that the additional tutoring services are improving performance, they still believe the extra instruction is benefiting students. And apparently, so do parents.

“Our most positive feedback,” Mr. Cotner said, “is that requests for the service are increasing.”

A version of this article appeared in the June 16, 2004 edition of Education Week as Teachers’ Unions Seize Opportunity To Provide Supplemental Services

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Teachers’ Careers Go Through Phases. They Need Support in Each
Teachers experience a dip in job satisfaction a few years into their careers.
5 min read
Vector illustration of a female teacher at her desk with her head in her hands. There are papers, stacked notebooks, and a pen on the desk and a very light photo of a blurred school hallway with bustling students walking by in the background.
iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Download Downloadable: 5 Ways Principals Can Help With Teacher Burnout
This downloadable gives school leaders and teachers various ways to spot and treat teacher burnout.
1 min read
Silhouette of a woman with an icon of battery with low charge and icons such as a scribble line, dollar sign and lightning bolt floating around the blue background.
Canva
Teaching Profession Massages, Mammograms, and Dental Care: How One School Saves Teachers' Time
This Atlanta school offers unique onsite benefits to teachers to help them reduce stress.
3 min read
Employees learn more about health and wellness options during a mini benefits fair put on by The Lovett School in Atlanta on May 8, 2024.
Employees at the Lovett School in Atlanta meet with health benefits representatives during a mini benefits fair on May 8, 2024.
Erin Sintos for Education Week
Teaching Profession Opinion How Two Teachers Helped Me Weave a Dream
A journalist and debut book author dedicates her novel to two of her high school English teachers.
Anne Shaw Heinrich
3 min read
Image of nurturing the craft of writing.
Francis Sheehan for Education Week with N. Kurbatova / iStock / Getty