While I agree with some, I thought it would be useful to analyze the few that I disagree with more:
1) E4E supports "an evenhanded performance-based pay structure to reward excellent teachers."
This sounds wonderful on paper: teachers put more effort in and change the way they do things, and so they will be compensated for it. The most important issues, however, are that this statement tacitly implies that teachers are somehow holding back, not putting all their effort in because they choose not to. Also, who will be the people deciding on the performance standards and gauging whether or not a teacher has met or exceeded them?
2) E4E supports "evaluating teachers through a holistic and equitable system that incorporates value-added student achievement data as one component of effectiveness."
While I am an outspoken skeptic of Value-Added Modeling (VAM) because of what I've read, I still find it interesting that more reports suggest it is a positive step in the evaluation movement. In fact, the reverse has been found true time and time again. The most recent example is from the American Educational Research Association, when they wrote in a recent statement on the use of VAM, "Existing VAM estimates have not been shown to isolate sufficiently the effectiveness of teachers, principals, or other nonteaching professional staff."
3) E4E supports "giving students and parents more opportunity to choose great schools."
Whenever I hear or read the something similar to the term "school choice" I think of the charter school movement and its deleterious effects it has had on traditional public schools. The recent example from Success Academy Charter Schools of the "Got to go list" is only one of the egregious uses of public funds. Why can a parent choose to support and change a public school that already exists? Why abandon that school completely and then leave the students that "cannot be helped" by the charter school to a fate with less funding, fewer supports, and more issues?
The meeting we had was a very good insight into the positions that E4E has traditionally had. Interestingly, the two representatives pushed back a lot on our questions to these principles, saying they were more of an "outline" of what the membership believes. In my opinion, if an organization has a declaration of principles including these three aspects, I am not going to sign on the dotted line, even to get a newsletter. I'm guessing those that read this and signed it either agree with some (but not all) or did not read it closely enough to make an informed decision.
There is one positive thing that came from the meeting, however: I read the New York branch's most recent policy paper on school climate, entitled, Climate change: Creating safe, supportive schools for all students. It discussed the increased use of Restorative Justice and increasing funding for mentorship, training, and implementation. The only snag, however, is that of the 15 authors of the report, I found that only 3 of them have more than five years of experience (when checking on LinkedIn and other sources).
If E4E is to truly be a diverse community of educators, it needs to have more folks involved at a variety of levels of experience - and they will likely only get that if they reform their Declaration of Principles.