THE TEACHERS EDITION -- October 8, 2015

The Teachers Edition

October 8, 2015  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 


In This Issue

graph of education vs prison costs

This CNN infographic lays out how much 40 states spend per year to educate a K-12 student compared to the cost of keeping an inmate imprisoned. Secretary Duncan called for reform last week. 

Secretary Duncan Says

Raise Teacher Pay by Diverting Prison Spending

In what was his last public speech prior to announcing his resignation effective December, Secretary Arne Duncan called on state and local governments to shift funding from incarceration to education. He suggested that by finding alternatives to prison for half of those convicted of non-violent crimes, upwards of $15 billion a year would be saved, which he suggested should be used to pay educators more. Among the possibilities: increasing teacher salaries by 50 percent at the highest-need schools and creating more teacher-leader positions to mentor colleagues. "It's about setting a different direction as a society, a different priority —one that says we believe in great teaching early in our kids' lives, rather than courts, jails and prisons later," Duncan said.

King at barbershop reading event


Meet the Next Secretary

Meet Dr. John King, who will take over as Acting Secretary of Education in December. 

King, a former social studies teacher, school founder, and state commissioner of education, says, "The teachers at [New York City's] P.S. 276 and Mark Twain Junior High literally saved my life" after his parents, both teachers, died when he was young. 

Since January, King has served as Duncan's deputy secretary. Read more about the lifelong teacher (Peiser, Hechinger Report). 

At a White House press conference, President Obama expressed confidence in King and reflected on Arne's extraordinary accomplishments 

field trip viewfinders

Virtual Field Trips

Take Your Class to Mars

Forget reading about the Red Planet in a textbook: Google recently released new tools for teachers to take their students on virtual field trips to places like Mars, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Great Wall of China. The virtual-reality viewers — composed of cardboard and a cellphone — are just the beginning of Google's effort to help students "see different things that you otherwise wouldn’t," says Jennifer Holland, program manager for Google Apps for Education. (Singer,

Compete with the Boys 

Empowering Girls

let girls learn campaign image

First Lady Michelle Obama is publicizing her "Let Girls Learn" campaign to expand girls' access to education in developing countries and to encourage American girls to take advantage of their opportunities. “If we want to end global poverty, if we want to improve the plight of our country, educating girls is the key to all of that,” she said at a recent event in Harlem, N.Y.

To raise awareness about the 62 Million Girls who are locked out of brighter futures because they cannot get the education they deserve, the First Lady is asking girls and women to Tweet or Instagram a black-and-white portrait and share what they learned in school with the following message:

“In school, I learned ____. #62MillionGirls don’t have that chance.” 

rositas supports

Staying in School

Support Networks Keep Potential Dropouts in School

While the nation’s graduation rate has reached a record high, nearly half a million young people will leave high school this year without graduating. A new report by America’s Promise Alliance offers new insights – from the perspectives of young people themselves – into how support from adults and peers can help close the remaining gap between those who graduate from high school on time and those who don’t. Last Saturday, Michelle Obama, Shaquille O'Neill, and former President George W. Bush joined many other leaders for nationally televised American Graduate Day to bring awareness to students' needs.

Teacher Leadership

Emotional Health 

The Seven Habits of Highly Affective Teachers

Borrowing and modifying the premise from Stephen Covey (1989), author/educator Rick Wormeli urges teachers to make emotional health a habit. He explores ways to use mindfulness and constructive practices with students in “The Seven Habits of Highly Affective Teachers” (Marshall Memo). The seven habits he suggests include:

  • Find joy in others' success. 
  • Cultivate perspective and reframe.
  • Ditch the easy caricature.
  • Explore the ethics of teaching.
  • Embrace humility.
  • Value intellect.
  • Maintain passion and playfulness.

Read more for the bonus habit at the end (Educational Leadership). 

P Chat

Principal Corner

Stay or Quit? Nearly 30 percent of principals who lead troubled schools quit every year. By their third year, more than half of all principals leave their jobs. New principal Krystal Hardy (Sylvanie Williams College Prep Elementary, New Orleans) shares what is expected of her and how to do it better. She finds that much of her job requires soft skills to communicate effectively with staff and students, and that she has to work longer hours due to expanded expectations (Tyre, Hechinger Report).

#ThankAPrincipal. Principals are among the hardest working, yet often least recognized individuals in education. That's part of the reason why a group of organizations came together to christen October National Principals Month. Check out some ideas for how to celebrate.

The Teaching Profession

TAF and PAF news

Each year, the Department of Education selects a corps of practicing teachers and principals to provide insights from the field on the state of our schools. Read recent interviews with Josalyn in Memphis, Joe in Baltimore, Aman from California, Christopher in Washington and Matt in Connecticut. Click the links to learn more about the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship or the Principal Ambassador Fellowship.

Question mark


Did You Know

Nearly one in four students in our nation’s public elementary and secondary schools is Hispanic. Yet, less than one in 10 teachers—or roughly just 8 percent of America’s teaching force—is Hispanic.

Watch this video with Dr. Jill Biden and Erica Castro, both educators, who engage in a conversation about growing the teaching profession, especially with those who are Hispanic and understand the Latino culture. As we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, take a look at these bright spots in Hispanic education and these profiles of Latino educators to demonstrate that there are dedicated professionals in schools who are educating young people and serving as role models through their careers.

Arthur Everett

Celebrating African American Educators

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.

Everett African American educator

Arthur Everett is a Special Educator and Social Studies Teacher at both the middle and high school levels serving Title I populations in Brooklyn. He was a New York City Department of Education Common Core Fellow, as well as a speaker and presenter for the National Council of History Educators. He is a 2014-2015 New York Educator Voice Fellow.

 Why and how did you decide upon a career in education?

Although I come from a family of educators, my attraction to teaching as a career began in 2002 in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.Traumatized, unemployed, and questioning my existence, I felt nonetheless alive and bursting with a desire to make a difference somehow. In particular, I wanted to do something for the kids: to somehow manufacture my masteries, mistakes and musings into goods to magnify the next generation.

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

I most celebrate the “aha’ moments that follow productive struggle. I love when a student says “I don’t know,” because for me that is the beginning of the conversation. Helping students achieve understanding through questioning and discussion and watching their self-confidence develop as they “figure it out” is the highlight of teaching.

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

I believe that it is important to not label my students. I refuse to handicap them with my own personal prejudices and biases, and I encourage others to create spaces in which African American students feel safe and valued. I emphasize strengths rather than focus on weakness. 

Teach to Lead

Teach to Lead update

One More in the Mix - Up to 86. EdCamp Foundation has joined Teach to Lead as the 86th official supporter. All of the supporting organizations can be found here

Dear President Obama

"I've Never Written a President Before ... But I Can't Let My Kids Down"

A powerful letter by Brian Suits, Georgia's Middle School Principal of the Year, made its way to the desk of President Obama -- and even got a reply. Suits wrote, "Our kids are underestimated at every turn, but they have so, so much to teach us. We just need to value their voices, and listen." Obama agreed in his reply, citing the students' stories by name and telling of how he felt moved to learn about the success they're having at Dalton Middle School. (

stop bullying image

Get Involved

Stop Bullying 

Find out more about the myths, the medical aspects, the social concerns and the Emotion Revolution in our nation's schools. 

Find out what you and your students can do to Stop Bullying

Quote to Note

A Teacher to Remember

"People don't show up 20 and 30 years later to pay tribute to teachers who helped them do better on standardized tests. We are here because Alan Kaplan did what all great teachers do. He clarified, he inspired, he awakened, he worked in ways that are unquantifiable."

(Teacher Barry Smolin, speaking at former Los Angeles teacher Kaplan's funeral, which was attended by hundreds of students and colleagues.)

Education Policy

Policy Briefs

Improving Teacher Education. Good teaching is not only the product of natural talent, but requires excellent teacher training. It's an idea that Arne spoke about last year. Educators and policy makers are calling for changes that will lead to better teacher effectiveness. Read more about some teacher education approaches being called for and some guiding principles that will help coordinate everyone's ideas (WillinghamNew York Times). 

States Supporting Principals. A new Wallace-commissioned report, Developing Excellent School Principals to Advance Teaching and Learning: Considerations for State Policy, offers ideas that can help guide state policy makers interested in better training and supporting principals. 

Resources for Educators

Tool Kit with EL Resources 

In this ED blog, Aman Dhanda and JoLisa Hoover (2015 Teaching Ambassador Fellows) unveil features of the English Learner Tool Kit, a new resource companion to the English Learner Guidance. Written for practitioners, the EL Tool Kit will help teachers find resources and answers about how to best serve English learner students.

Arne reading to kids

Expanding Literacy

The Power of Reading

The Library of Congress promotes reading and literacy nationally and internationally through a variety of programs and events. This article offers information about their online resources, literacy partnerships, braille and “talking-book” materials, literacy awards and more (Gavin, Library of Congress Magazine). 

Arne joined Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, Chef Pati Jinich and NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon for the final ‘Let’s Read! Let’s Move!’ event last summer at the Library of Congress.

Teachers Notes

sticky notepad

 • Digital Citizens. Read about the nine essential elements of digital citizenship from Mike Ribble in this blog by Dennis Pierce (eSchool News). 

• Target to End School Donation Program. Retail giant Target announced that it is ending its giving program that has gifted millions of dollars to schools over two decades. In May, Target will shift its focus from education to health and wellness.

• Solve Problems Peacefully. Conflict Resolution Day is the third Thursday of October. This year it is October 15. Help your students learn more about it, encourage them to enter a poetry contest, or get ideas on how to set up activities at your school

• Looking to Move? WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 13 key metrics coming up with The 2015 Best and Worst States for Teachers (Bernardo, 

Everyone's Talking About Coding

Students' Corner

A 'Champion' Coder. Last month, 15-year-old Swetha Prabakaran was honored at the White House as one of 11 young women named “champions of change,” for her work as the founder of Everybody Code Now! The nonprofit operates in 12 states and has partnerships in India and Ghana to help elementary school students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, learn how to code. (Shapiro,

Future Champions. Meanwhile, in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all of the city's public schools will be required to offer computer science courses to all students in order to ensure that every child can learn the skills required to work in New York City’s fast-growing technology sector. (

Not A Silver Bullet. Technology in the classroom doesn’t always lead to better student performance, according to a new study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. While student performance improves when they use technology in moderation, overexposure to computers and the Internet actually causes educational outcomes to drop. (Kesling,

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Top 5 Quotes

King listening to educators

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "When you treat teachers as merely deliverers of instruction and take away their opportunity to develop the knowledge necessary for success, it disempowers and demotivates teachers." (Teacher, Colorado)

4. "If you don't get involved in the policy work then someone that doesn't have your values will." (Teacher, Washington)

3. "I learn more and more every day about how race, socioeconomic status, and segregation have led to the predicament we are in." (Teacher, Missouri)

2. "I student-taught at an affluent school, but my first job was at an inner-city school. It would have been better for me to have had been exposed to both kinds of schools before I started teaching." (Middle School Teacher, Texas)

1. "My school as a learning organization has vastly improved with the implementation of teacher leadership in my building." (Principal, Iowa)