How Teachers Would Reform Public Schools

Published December 1, 1998

The following reforms are endorsed by teachers who signed the 15-point “Letter to the American People” developed at the National Summit of Teachers for Education Reform:

  • Restore proven traditional curricula and shared civic values;
  • End interference with a teacher’s right to a disciplined and scholarly atmosphere in class;
  • Transform teacher labor unions back into professional associations;
  • End the monopoly in schooling that stifles innovation, resists change, and ignores parents.


  • High school graduates should be culturally literate, employable, and able to function as autonomous, productive, and trustworthy individuals and citizens;
  • Re-emphasize phonics, American heritage texts, direct instruction in grammar, regular writing assignments, plus memorization and mastery of basic mathematics.


  • Selection of curricula, methods, and schools by local leaders, educators, and parents;
  • Broad range of school choice;
  • School operation without bureaucratic restrictions.


  • Ongoing teacher training;
  • Preference for local training and recruitment of teachers;
  • Teachers accept accountability for their part in student learning;
  • Eliminate monopoly bargaining, exclusive representation, and compulsory unionism;
  • End state-sanctioned special privileges for teacher unions.

Teachers also should be more knowledgeable in the subjects they teach; teacher colleges should adopt a more rigorous curriculum; high school students should be ready for high school-level work, thus ending social promotions; and all schools should expect more from our children. Finally, “good character” should be restored to its historical place as a central desirable outcome of the public school enterprise.