A Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers

The work of teachers is crucial in the lives of learners, but the political environment typically fails to acknowledge teachers for their professional commitment and their professional competence.

A Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers expresses a set of beliefs and values and reflects the pledge teachers make to children and learning.

Our hope is that teachers everywhere will take to heart the message in the document. It deserves to be read aloud whenever teachers gather. Read it together. Listen to your colleagues. Let it guide your practice.

A Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers

by Kenneth S. Goodman

There is a time in the historic development of every human institution when it reaches a critical crossroad. Institutions, like people, cannot stand still; they must always change but the changes aren’t always for the better. Human institutions are composed of people. Sometimes the people within the institutions feel powerless to influence the directions of institutional change. They feel they are swept along by a force beyond anyone. Yet people within institutions can determine the directions of change if they examine their convictions and take a principled stand.

That’s what the founders of American democracy understood when they began the Declaration of Independence with “When, in the course of human events,…”
Education in the United States is at such a crossroad. At the same time that schools have rededicated themselves to equal educational opportunity for all, laws and policies are being imposed on schools that limit the ability of diligent teachers to use their professional judgment to further the personal development and welfare of their students.

There are strong pressures today to dehumanize, to depersonalize, to industrialize our schools. In the name of cost effectiveness, of efficiency, of system, of accountability, of minimal competency, of a return to the basics, schools are being turned into sterile, hostile institutions at war with the young people they are intended to serve.

As teachers we hereby declare ourselves to be in opposition to the industrialization of our schools. We pledge ourselves to become advocates on behalf of our students. We make the following declaration of professional conscience: [To Continue Reading the Pledge]