Due to changing demographics in Portland Public Schools, teachers have begun teaching their colleagues. The shift in the student enrollment is due to a steady increase in refugees and immigrants over the past 20 plus years. Nearly half of the students now are nonwhite and they represent speakers of more than 60 languages.
Teachers, who have successfully grappled with community-base issues, such as equity, poverty, bias, and racism and have gained expertise, are conducting courses for other teachers in their district. They design their courses to identify problems and develop strategies, while sharing knowledge gained and information learned, i.e. their own expertise.
As a professional organization, NCTE has long advocated for teacher expertise as well as promoted the concept of teachers learning from one another. For example, nearly thirty years ago, NCTE passed a resolution commending the National Writing Project, where teachers teach teachers to teach writing.
While there is evidence of actual change in some classrooms and there is more choice around teacher learning, the new approach in Portland is limited. Administrators talk of a systemwide expansion of the professional development program, but critics say that even more must be done. Topping the list is hiring more teachers who share the cultural and racial backgrounds of the students.