No More 'No Child Left Behind'? - THE TEACHERS EDITION - December 3, 2015

The Teachers Edition

December 3, 2015  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 


In This Issue

Changes in Legislation

No More 'No Child Left Behind'?

On Wednesday, the House approved the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces the No Child Left Behind law. Encouraged that the bill will codify his vision to give a fair shot at a great education to every child in America – regardless of zip code, Secretary Duncan said, “Our nation deserves a law that prioritizes both excellence and equity for our students and supports great educators. We are pleased the House has voted in strong bipartisan fashion in favor of a bill that does that, and we look forward to the Senate moving quickly to do the same.” The bill rejects the overuse of standardized tests and one-size-fits-all mandates on our schools, ensures that our education system will prepare every child to graduate from high school ready for college and careers, and provides more children access to high-quality state preschool programs.

sped teacher

'These Children Deserve to be Loved, Heard, Appreciated'

Florida special education teacher Chris Ulmer has gotten lots of attention for a video that went viral last month featuring his morning ritual of complimenting his students. His blog might be even better. He highlights the stories of people with disabilities, urging Facebookers to show love and acceptance for his students. On one post, he writes: "He is not Down Syndrome. He is not autism. He is Joshua and he is my treasure." 

inventor girl image

Video Worth Watching 

Teen Inventor Inspires Young Innovators

Alexis Smith, a 15-year-old from Chapel Hill (N.C.), already holds one patent and has another one pending. She hopes to pass on the invention bug and bring her middle school elective, Inventing 101, to students across the country. Watch her demonstrate her first patent, a wheeled travois—a triangular load-carrying device that she designed to serve Somali refugees, who need to transport their children many miles to camps and hospitals. Her patent-pending emergency mask pod is a canister that firefighters and first responders can throw through a window of a smoke-filled building to those trapped inside (

Teacher Leadership


More Evidence that Teachers Don't Get Paid Enough

A San Francisco teacher describes how she juggles four jobs to make ends meet in a video by the Teacher Salary Project that is bookended by insights from Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman: "Our society says that teachers are nearly 270 times less valuable than one corporate CEO at one of the top 300 firms." Meanwhile, a recently released report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development compares teacher salaries to those of other similarly educated individuals and warns that "uncompetitive salaries will make it much harder to attract the best candidates to the teaching profession" (Edwards, 

Teach to Lead

Teach to Lead update

Submit Your Application for the Next Summit. It's not too late to get your application in. December 13 is the deadline to submit your teacher leadership idea to join other teacher leaders in Baltimore in February.

Everybody Wants In. Teach to Lead has an alphabet soup of new supporting organizations: NAEYCAMLE; FCCLA; ASCA; NBCDI; NAECS-SDE; NIEER; NU-CGCSTEACH Early Childhood National Center; and Skills USA have signed on as supporters. And the race is on to reach 100 - stay tuned to our next edition to see the results. 

map of most read books

Not Like When We Were Kids

Most Read Books by State

There are a few familiar titles on the list of most read books by high school seniors -- Animal Farm, Frankenstein, Macbeth -- but there are also a few newcomers. The survey isn't the most scientific, but it's still fun to see what kids are reading in your state. Chances are it's John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (O'Keeffe, Speaking of books, check out what's on incoming acting Secretary John King's reading list

P Chat

Principal Corner

How the Principalship Should Look. As more principals step away due to the pressures involved in the role, Gregory Mullenholz (2011 Washington TAF) reflects on the need for a residency approach to developing new principals, in line of what he calls the "paradoxical role of the principalship" that requires leaders to both multitask and focus deeply on all they do. 

Support Your Team. Administrators can use teacher leaders as leverage to carry out the school’s vision. Check out "Five Tips to Give Your Teacher Leaders the Support They Need" (Windwehen, Education Post). 

The Teaching Profession

How One White Teacher Built a Multicultural Classroom

Award-winning elementary school teacher Emily Smith writes: "Roughly 80 percent of teachers in the United States today are white. Yet the population of our students is a palette. That means America’s children of color will, for the majority of their school years, not have a teacher who is a reflection of their own image." When she realized that, she took steps to change her curriculum: "You may agree that black and brown lives matter, but how often do you explore what matters to those lives in your classroom?" (Washington Post).

TAF and PAF news

The Department of Ed wants your voice!

Teachers and principals are needed for the next class of Teaching and Principal Ambassador Fellows. Lend your expertise to ED in a full- or part-time role during the next school year. 

Applications are due December 14. Read Patrick Kelly's (Richland County School District Two, Columbia, S.C.) blog about what being a fellow has meant to him. 

Sharon Contreras   

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.

African American educator

Sharon Contreras is the Superintendent of Schools of the Syracuse City School District (Syracuse, NY). She was also the Chief Academic Office of the Providence, Rhode Island school district from 2007 to 2011. In addition, Contreras has worked to expand CTE and STEM fields programs by partnering with area universities and local education institutions.

 Why and how did you decide upon a career in education? My parents nurtured the love for education in me at a very early age. By the time I was five years old, I knew that I was going to be a teacher. My siblings were the first enrolled students in my “Saturday School” before I expanded my classroom to include the neighborhood children.

 What is the one thing you most celebrate about your students? Our students are bright, creative, beautiful and full of so much potential; however, the one thing that I most celebrate is their resilience. With consistent love, high expectations, and great teaching we can help them to develop their unique gifts and grow into successful, productive members of society. 

In what ways do you encourage parents, family members, and other caring adults to support the learning and development of African American students? The opportunity gap facing African American students has reached crisis proportions. These students are being disproportionately disciplined, suspended and expelled, propelling them into the school-to-prison pipeline. As superintendent of a school district that has been disproportionately overusing suspensions for decades, I empower families by reinforcing the message that a quality education is a civil and human right. 

Educational Equity

Spotty Electricity Leaves Smartboards Off at Indian Schools

President Obama was deeply moved when he spoke with six students at a school on an Indian reservation last year; administration officials said it was the most emotional they've seen him during his presidency. Politico checks in on the state of Indian education and finds that although some teachers now have computers and smartboards, turning them on could mean tripping outdated circuit breakers.

Recommended Reading

books image

It's Harder to Be a Poor Boy around Richer Neighbors than Poorer Ones An interesting study out of Penn State University found that low-income boys who live near more affluent neighborhoods are more likely to get into trouble than boys who are surrounded by poverty

(Goldstein, The Marshall Project). 

What Does it Mean for Children to Grow up in a World with Terrorism? The new special issue of Social Policy Report explores the impact of growing up in a world with terrorism on children and youth. It considers both the direct traumatic effects of being a victim and the indirect effects of living in societies in which the threat of terrorism is on the minds of children, but perhaps more importantly, of adults -- parents and policy makers in particular (Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute).

Education Policy

Against Edu-Speak

PARCC. STEM. NCLB. ESEA. NAEP. And for that matter: authentic, rigorous, standards-based, and student-centered. If we got rid of all the jargon in education, what would we be left with? Liz Willen of the Hechinger Report urges journalists to eschew these somewhat empty terms and just say what we mean. Those of us who sit through faculty meetings can relate. 

How Does Your State Rank in Developing Young Readers?

crawling to Walking Report

Currently, only about one-third of all children attending school in the United States can read proficiently by fourth grade, and for the most vulnerable students, the numbers are worse. A new report from New America’s Education Policy Program measures states on a broad set of policy indicators that can help ensure children are on track to read on grade level by the end of third grade. The report says some states are tackling pieces necessary for early literacy, but they must fit them together.

Teachers Notes

sticky notepad

• Power Inspired Teaching. ASCD myTeachSource is a brand new online professional learning platform organized around classroom-focused topics, designed to help teachers find quick solutions to issues that interest them. It is accessible from computers or mobile devices, and enables personalized professional learning.

• Being Our Own Heroes. When school leaders understand how to structure and support professional learning to encourage teacher agency and authentic collaboration great things can happen. Find out what educator agency is all about (Calvert, 

• Lend Your Voice. America Achieves is looking for top teachers in Tennessee to participate in their Educator Voice Fellowship

Tools for Students

poetry slam contestant

Poetry Slam. Watch the Slam as teen poets compete in a high-spirited competition reciting new poems celebrating books & literature at the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Department of Energy wants to help high school teachers integrate bioenergy into the classroom. Check out their webinar next Thursday (December 10) at 4 p.m. and their infographic competition.

Top 5 Quotes

Tampa teachers listening

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "Our principal did a great job of recruiting. The people in our classrooms love those kids and give everything they have. That's equity." (Teacher, Illinois)

4. "I love the Common Core because it means my students will be held accountable to the same standards as rural and suburban kids. It levels the expectation playing field" (Teacher, Colorado)

3. "When teachers are empowered, they inspire their students to do amazing things" (Teacher, Maine)

2. "I'm burnt out every year. I don't know why I do this, but I keep comping back because I'm committed to helping these students." (Teacher, Illinois) 

1. "In order for education policy to work, we must turn to the experts in its creation." (Teacher, Massachusetts)