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About the Initiative
The Teacher-Powered Schools Initiative was launched in May 2014 with the goals of highlighting the successes of the more than 120 teacher-powered schools across the country, and inspiring other teacher teams to either take charge in their schools or design and run new schools.
While the initiative recognizes the many other important efforts focused on teacher leadership and professionalism—for example, offering pathways for advancement without leaving the classroom, amplifying teachers' voices, and fostering PLCs—our explicit focus is on supporting teacher teams in securing collective autonomy to design and run schools.
Importantly, the initiative is not in opposition to principals. All teacher-powered schools have leaders and many do in fact have a principal. The difference is, in a teacher-powered school, final decision-making authority lies with the collective group of teachers. Teachers identify students' needs and design schools to directly meet those needs. Administrators, who are selected by teachers, work to support teacher teams' decisions—not the other way around. This is essentially the "professional partnership" organizational form, that is so common in other sectors, applied to public education.
The teacher-powered arrangement, applied en masse, can have critical impact at the district and state levels. As schools demonstrate success, they can influence district and state leaders to rethink their decision making in support of teachers' work.
Concretely speaking, the initiative is a collaborative effort of teacher leaders and organizations that support its ideals. This group works to:
- Build awareness among teachers that they have the option of coming together to design and run teacher-powered schools, should they choose. We do this through newsletters, blog posts, social media, traditional media, and more.
- Support teachers in designing, launching, and sustaining teacher-powered schools. We do this by facilitating networks, hosting conferences and other events, developing resources and guides, and providing professional development and direct technical assistance to teachers.
- Advocate for teacher-powered schools among administrators, unions, associations, and policymakers. We do this by educating them on the staggering levels of public support for the idea, and by documenting the ways in which teachers use policy to secure collective autonomy.
The Teacher-Powered Schools Initiative is laser-focused on improving student learning and improving the teaching profession. Not from the top-down, but from the ground up. Teachers, administrators, union/association leaders, parents, and policymakers should explore the untapped potential of teacher-powered schools for their community.