|Vol. 17, No. 16||Jan. 8, 1998|
The Holmes Partnership joined with the National Commission on Teaching for America's Future at Teachers College and the National Center for Teacher Learning at Michigan State University, to form the National Partnership for Excellence and Accountability in Teaching (NPEAT). To be headquartered in Washington, D.C., NPEAT recently received a $23 million, five-year contract from the U.S. Department of Education, to carry out initiatives in educational reform.
The origin of the contract began, Murray said, when the National Commission on Teaching for America's Future issued What Matters Most?, a study of teachers across the country, some of whom were unlicensed, non-accredited or teaching out of their fields. The report was a wake-up call for caring, competent and qualified teachers for all of America's children. It also became the cornerstone of Clinton's educational policy, Murray said.
A nationwide competition was announced for a partnership to carry out the commission's findings and mandate, and NPEAT was selected as the organization of choice.
Under the contract, NPEAT is responsible for 30 educational projects, and the Holmes Partnership will carry out nine of them.
Among the NPEAT/Holmes projects is the creation of an interdisciplinary academic major for elementary school teachers, with Murray as principle investigator. The project's goal is to develop curriculum frameworks in the core subject areas of mathematics, science, social studies/history and language arts.
Murray also is involved studying and improving NPEAT as a vehicle for comprehensive reform at all levels of education policy and practice and evaluating the organization when the five-year grant ends.
Another project will focus on preparing teachers for urban areas. Educational opportunities to enable teachers to meet the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards for certification is another initiative.
Under the umbrella of NPEAT, the Holmes Partnership also will be involved in identifying and solving problems in the field of education, Murray said.
"For example, it is generally recognized that university faculty who are heavily involved in the public schools are not rewarded in terms of current promotion and tenure standards for their contributions. The problem can be fixed; it's doable, but requires us to develop criteria for excellent faculty work in schools. We don't have these criteria now," Murray said.
In conjunction with this concept, Murray said the Holmes Partnership is advancing the concept of professional development schools. "These are regular public schools that would serve teacher education the way teaching hospitals serve medical education. Students and faculty would work and learn there as well as carry out research, getting first-hand, grass roots experience," Murray said.
A multilevel organization, the Holmes Partnership is composed of seven national partners, such as the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the National Policy Board for Education Administration, and 75 local partnerships in all 50 states involving universities that are linked with local school districts and educational organizations. For example, the Delaware Partnership involves UD, several school districts, the Delaware State Education Association, the Delaware Association of School Administrators and other groups.
The national partnership also has issued three influential publications that are blueprints for the future of education: Tomorrow's Teachers, Tomorrow's Schools and Tomorrow's Schools of Education.
"The combination of national, state and local levels positions the Holmes Partnership to focus on different educational issues from many perspectives," Murray said.
"No one organization can solve the complex problems facing education today," Murray said, "but with contributions from teachers and other educators, by working with professional organizations and with funding to carry out research and initiatives, we can finally get down to improving America's educational system, instead of just talking about it."
-Sue Swyers Moncure
Photo by Robert Cohen