The Teachers Edition

May 28, 2015  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

teacher at state summit

High school math teacher Trey Ferguson works with state leaders on a logic model to pilot teacher leadership in ten districts in North Carolina. Not shown, but also on the North Carolina team, were Amy Holcombe from Guilford County Schools, Mark Jewell of NCAE, and Robert Sox and Thomas Tomberlin of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. 


The States of Teacher Leadership

At the Teach to Lead State Summit on Teacher Leadership, educators from seven states met last week to engage in critical conversations with district and state leaders that will expand and support teacher leadership statewide.

The seven - North Carolina, New York, Maine, Connecticut, Arizona, Kentucky, Washington - worked with union officials, supporting organizations, and critical friends from other states to reflect on the state of teacher leadership and develop plans to expand teacher leadership to solve their toughest educational challenges. Every individual left the summit with an action commitment to help move the state forward in their plan.

If there was a theme to the event, it would be this: Teachers are the professional experts in education, an untapped resource for innovation and improvement. Tennessee Assistant State Education Commissioner Paul Fleming characterized his experience with teacher leadership as something that has been seriously transformative in Tennessee, much more than than "mere window dressing." 

View pictures from the State Summit. Educators may submit an idea for participation in the Washington D.C. Teach to Lead Summit on July 23-24 through 11:59 PM ET June 5.

50 Great Teachers


What Makes 

a Great Teacher?

Teachers at ED are loving the stories of great teachers featured in National Public Radio’s (NPR) year-long series: 50 Great Teachers

The first story looks at the magic AP American government teacher MaryAnn Wolfe makes with Socratic seminars in her class at Oakland (Ca.) Technical High School. Other stories are equally compelling: a young Oklahoma teacher with a passion for math; the principal and teacher who was one of the first black women in the country to earn a Ph.D. and teach at the first public high school for black students; the blunt, loud and pushy Los Angeles Boy Scout leader who steers kids clear of gangs; the energetic teacher in Kabul who set up a school amidst rubble and violence; and more.

The series celebrates teachers past and present and shares stories about how teachers can change the lives of just one student -- or many. According to NPR, they will use the project “as an opportunity to do some reporting on what makes a great teacher, and how teaching can and should be taught. And, take a hard look at the big question of what, exactly, is great teaching?” Read and listen to all the stories and follow along during the coming year.

Did you know?


The Federal Role in Education 

The federal government has had a role in education since the founding of the nation. 

The Northwest Ordinance in 1787, which created the first states beyond the original 13, required that every township set aside land to support education in that community.

(The Progress of Education Reform: The Shaping of Education Policy over Time, Christopher T. Cross, Education Commission of the States, Volume 16, #2.)

AAPI month


Asian-Pacific-American Culture

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM). First recognized in 1978, APAHM was established to honor the contributions, heritage, and traditions of Asian Americans and Pacific islanders, who are the fastest growing racial group in the nation.

Teachers and students can learn about the APAHM culture through these FREE website activities.  

Common Core Connections

MUTUAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR GETTING TESTING RIGHT. Bellwether's cofounder Andy Rotherham penned this piece for U.S. News, arguing that schools and parents are as responsible for the "standardized testing circus" as public officials and testing companies. 

PARCC VOTES ARE INLearn more about the changes that the PARCC governing board voted on. The changes will decrease test time and simplify test administration, without diminishing the goal of the assessment to ensure every student in every school is being taught what they need to know order to be successful in the next school year and, ultimately, in college or career. 

P Chat


Apply for a Grant 

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) is seeking innovative schools, libraries and community organizations to join the Toyota Family Learning movement. They are looking for applications for a three-year, $175,000 grant that will fund family learning programs that feature service learning and family mentoring. Five selected organizations will also receive a wide range of NCFL training, communication and technical support, learning items and materials. 

Organizations can fill out an initial brief application (less than 5 pages) through June 11. Programs chosen to join the initiative will engage families in learning activities that help them reach their full potential and serve their communities at the same time. Please visit


"Teacher leadership is an approach, not a program."

(Tennessee Assistant State Education Commissioner Paul Fleming, at the Teach to Lead State Leadership Summit May 20. Fleming explained, "Teacher leadership must be embedded in the DNA of the school and the district.")

Quote to Note


Editor's note: The following is part of a series reporting on excellent African American educators. Educators were selected by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.


Celebrating African American Educators

Juandalynn Ja Cinta Jones-Hunt is an Elementary Visual Arts Educator at Parkview Village Elementary School in High Point, North Carolina.

 What is the one thing you most celebrate about your students?  

I have a passion to teach, but the fact that my students seem to connect with me, the subject, and the purpose of the instruction moves me. When they produce original artwork from concepts developed through exploration of a topic that can be connected to real life experiences and tasks, I find joy in the steps it takes to achieve a final piece. We then celebrate both the process and the competition of work that they are ready to place before the general public.

 In what ways do you encourage parents, family members, and other caring adults to support the learning and development of African American students? 

We are truly the nucleus of the foundation of our children. From us, they will learn to develop into the adults they want to become. We will have failed our future, as a great people, should we miss any opportunity to uplift, direct, encourage, remind, or instill hope in our beautiful children.

Teach to Lead logo


Submit an Idea for DC Teacher Leadership Summit

It is not too late for educators to submit an idea to participate in the Teach to Lead Regional Teacher Leadership Summit July 23-24 in Washington, DC.  

At the Teach to Lead Regional Leadership Summit, teachers from around the country will work to advance their own teacher leadership ideas in their district and state. They will also network with supporter organizations (now 75 and growing) and gain important skills and feedback on their work.

Click here to submit your idea. (Link opens a Survey Monkey form.) Idea submissions are accepted through 11:59 PM ET June 5.



New Stats on Safety and Discipline Incidents

Results from a Fast Response Survey System survey, which collected information on specific safety and discipline plans and practices, found that 88 percent of public schools had a written plan of procedures in case of shootings or active shooters in the school, and 70 percent of all public schools had drilled students on the use of this plan during the 2013–14 school year. Seventy-two percent of public schools had a written plan of procedures for suicide threats or incidents.

Find out more about responses to the survey, which was mailed to approximately1,600 regular public schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, in Public School Safety and Discipline: 2013–14 from the Institute of Education Science, National Center for Education Statistics.

open book

Recommended Reading

WHAT IT TAKES. EdWeek education writer Marc Tucker penned this interesting opinion piece about the two things nations with the best-performing education systems have in common. According to Tucker, who takes a look at educational transformations in Japan and China, dramatic improvement in education has very little to do with policy. 

Keep Calm and Always Return all My Pencils

Teachers' Notes

• SOBERING FACTS ABOUT CHILD SUICIDE. Suicide ranks as the 11th leading cause of death in children aged 5 to 11 years, and a new study reveals that among black elementary school-aged boys, the rate is much higher than it was in the 1990s. Read more ("Suicide Trends Among Elementary School–Aged Children in the United States From 1993 to 2012," JAMA Pediatrics). 

• THE TEACHER PERCEPTION GAP. "When I first entered the field of education, I never would have guessed that the teacher leader role would take on a mind of its own," sixth grade teacher Amanda Morick (Marshall Middle School, Marshall, Mich.) recalls. Her blog, Things I Never Would Have Guessed About Teaching, traces her journey from reluctant learner to system-changing teacher leader. 

• STRIKING A CHORD. The NAMM Foundation has published an interesting study about the public's hopes and beliefs for K-12 music education in the United States. The study indicates that large majorities of teachers and parents consider access to music education vital for children, and they believe they support it more strongly than their school districts do. The report includes recommendations for teachers, parents and policymakers. 

Questions or comments about The Teachers Edition? Send them to ED's Teacher Liaison, Laurie Calvert:

Symposium for Male Educators of Color

Left: A breakout session from the May Symposium for male educators of color

Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. The other American Soldier: "I am the other American soldier, standing daily in front of my troops, carefully laying out the marching orders for my students to prepare them for the battle which lies ahead of them, that is to be equipped and ready to sustain a living in a country with so many growing problems. I do not take my rank and post lightly and fully understand the importance of my job to the National Security of my Country." (Teacher, in an email message to Arne Duncan)

4. "Don't show me another urban model. Just because it worked in Los Angeles, doesn't mean it will work in Hazzard, Kentucky." (Teacher, Kentucky)

3. On why students opting out of testing can hurt a school or a teacher's record: "When parents opt out, often their kids would have done well because they are from homes with high parental involvement and support." (Teacher, Michigan)

2. "There is a misconception that Common Core dictates what we teach in the classroom." (Teacher, Arizona)

1. A Tweet from last week's Teach to Lead Summit: "The challenge w/#teacherleadership isn't being dressed up with no place to go, it's having someplace to STAY, to lead w/o leaving #TTLSummit."