Welcome to the 2021 International Summit on the Teaching Profession. I am honored to host on behalf of the United States, together with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Education International.
It's great to be joined by my colleagues Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers; Becky Pringle, President of the National Education Association; and Carissa Moffat Miller, CEO of the Council of Chief State School Officers.
I also want to express my appreciation to our counterparts from around the world. I am grateful that technology allows 14 high-performing countries in Asia, Europe, and the Western Hemisphere to come together with us. Welcome.
Across our countries, the work we do to improve teaching and learning and support all students is essential. If the pandemic taught us anything, it's that we are all interconnected.
There is nothing more important than supporting teachers and students as we safely reopen schools for in-person learning, recover from the pandemic, and reimagine the future of education.
The International Summit on the Teaching Profession is different than most international meetings. When the summit launched 10 years ago, it was the first time that ministers and secretaries of education from around the world sat at the table with their representatives from the teaching profession.
Imagine that?! But luckily, it wasn't the last time. ISTP is still going strong, and the United States is looking forward to being back after a four-year hiatus. We are ready to tackle our shared challenges and work collaboratively with you.
As we planned to reengage, my team looked back at previous summits and reflected on what we learned. In 2012, members of the U.S. delegation said that their most powerful learning was the "need to build a coherent, systemic, thoughtful process of engaging all actors in comprehensive, large-scale change". This seems just as relevant now, maybe even more so, as we aim to build back better from the pandemic.
The overarching theme of this summit is timely because of this essential question: how can governments, teacher organizations, and schools—as centers of their communities—collaborate around the future of education and the whole child to provide an excellent education to all?
I saw promise in one school district I recently visited — Delran Township School District in New Jersey. Delran developed collaborative labor-management practices that they used before and throughout the pandemic. These efforts resulted in greater student success, increased educator engagement, and positive school cultures. Real collaboration among states, districts, management, and union leaders improves public schools and advances equity.
As an educator, I understand the challenges we face, but also the incredible rewards of working to help students grow and thrive.
To do that, we need to invest in teachers. We need to address teacher shortages by improving teacher preparation, strengthening pipelines for underrepresented teachers—including educators of color—and supporting current teachers.
We need to focus on the whole child and provide what every child needs to succeed. That means accelerating learning and building school communities where all students feel they belong. We need to leverage preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and communities so that students' academic, social-emotional, physical, and mental health needs are met.
I'm proud that today, the U.S. Department of Education released a suite of resources to help educators support their students' social and emotional wellbeing and mental health. These resources cover supports for students across early childhood, elementary and secondary schools, and higher education settings. Especially as we just observed World Mental Health Day, I'm proud that the Biden administration is sharing important resources and providing support for a wide range of programs to holistically support children and families.
I look forward to working with you. We need your ideas and experience about the best ways to elevate and enhance the teaching profession to improve instruction for all students.
Let us learn from the past while looking to the future to provide excellence and equity for all.