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By Cheryl S. Williams, executive director of the Learning First Alliance

This first Education Week post for the Learning First Alliance (LFA) introduces you to the overarching goal that we individually and collectively have for ensuring that every child in our nation has access to an excellent public school that prepares all its students for success in the global community. We all recognize that there's much work to be done to ensure that all students, regardless of their family or economic situation, experience the opportunity to learn in a rich academic environment that is both safe and challenging. As acknowledged with the name chosen by the original members of our Alliance, we believe that we have to put learning first in discussions about how this work will be achieved.

Every member of LFA has focused the work of the organization and its members on transforming learning in ways that incorporate the research that informs practice and takes advantage of innovations in technology. We work collectively to recognize excellence in teaching, instructional leadership, community involvement, and school governance so strategies that work can be shared more broadly. In the weeks ahead, member organizations will share what they've accomplished, learned, and are advocating for in support of strong public schools for students across the nation.

Joining the roster of Education Week blogs assists LFA member organizations in addressing a major challenge that national K-12 education organizations experience: public education in the United States is locally funded and governed, so national leaders must incorporate a variety of approaches to reach school leaders in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 14,000 local school districts. Sharing knowledge among and between state, local and national leaders and committed citizens and policymakers that result in better practice and improved student learning is the business we're in.

In the weeks ahead, you'll meet LFA members and get to know—

  • What the country's best school counselors do to keep students engaged in learning and how their profession is changing to meet the demands of today's students and economy
  • How local school public relations professionals keep communities informed and connected to their students and schools
  • Strategies that teachers unions advocate to support good teaching, improved working conditions, and collaboration with local school leaders
  • A new vision for teacher preparation programs that result in the highest student achievement, based on ongoing research
  • Characteristics of some of the nation's best principals and strategies they use to turnaround low performing schools
  • Standards for professional learning embedded in the work day that build communities of learners among educators and the students they serve
  • Tactics for early identification of high quality candidates for teacher preparation programs that begin in high school
  • How school boards work in high performing districts and states to support and maintain high academic standards and achievement
  • What we know about the unique needs of middle grade learners and how we can best address those needs
  • How engaged parents can advocate for the schools in their community and support their children's academic success
  • The role that school personnel administrators play in supporting effective teaching and learning
  • How district administrators provide leadership that results in high performing students and garners community support for school improvements
  • The important role that technology can play in addressing individual student learning styles and providing timely information to teachers on student progress

And much, much more.

Finally, while we know we don't have all the solutions for the challenges we face in transforming the education system to best serve all our nation's children, we do know that the individual and collective experience, dedication, and leadership we represent can provide valuable insights and constructive contributions to the ongoing dialogue around school improvement initiatives. We look forward to the year ahead and the opportunity to share our knowledge and vision and to participate in the exchange as we work together to transform learning for all our students.

Views expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the endorsement of the Learning First Alliance or any of its members.

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