He Made $1,000 an Hour Tutoring and 'Created a Monster' - THE TEACHERS EDITION - January 14, 2016

The Teachers Edition

January 14, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 


In This Issue

Education Cited in Obama's SOTU Speech

In his final State of the Union Address, President Obama focused on his education achievements during his tenure – passing the new ESSA law, lifting high school graduation rates and boosting graduates in fields like engineering. Citing "the teacher who comes in early, maybe with some extra supplies that she bought, because she knows that that young girl might someday cure a disease," he named top priorities as making college more affordable, providing “pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids.” 

King at Joann Lelek elementary school

Acting Secretary John King wonders what snowmen do at night with students enthralled by the story. 

Acting Secretary Visits 

King Visits Schools, Hears From Educators

Acting Secretary John King spent time during his first days in charge meeting with teachers and principals about his top priorities. Watch the video as he toured JoAnn Leleck Elementary School (Silver Spring, Md.), where he was impressed by high-quality classroom instruction and the school's commitment to early education. John also appeared on CBS This Week, saying "we've gotta ask every [presidential] candidate... 'What are they going to do to raise graduation rates? What are they going to do to make sure more students graduate from college?'" John also met with a group of accomplished principals this Wednesday, telling them that "I was a middle school principal in Boston so I can relate." 

body cam

First There Were Police Body-Cams, Now Texas is Exploring Teacher-Cams

Texas passed a law in June that made it the first in the nation to make it mandatory for schools to videotape interactions between teachers and special-needs students, if they are asked to do so by a parent or teacher, for example. There are some restrictions, but some advocacy groups say that other states are watching how this plays out in the state to see if cameras might have a place in your classroom someday (Schuette, NPR.org).

What School Segregation Looks Like


James Ford grew up in an integrated school and later became North Carolina's teacher of the year. He writes in Charlotte Magazine of the candid conversation he has with his students at the beginning of each year: how "people didn't expect much from their population, because of where they live and what they look like." After that stirring speech, he'd tell them "the purpose of my presence: That I knew what it was like to be doubted and mistreated. That I was on a mission to make sure they broke out of this destructive system. That I needed their trust before I could teach them." Read what else he said and how his students responded.

Calif. Union Faces Supreme Court This Week

The California Teachers Association is appearing in front of the Supreme Court this week in a lawsuit that asks for a change in the requirement that workers in 23 states who decline to join a union pay fees anyway. The case could have major impact for the nation's teacher unions. One of the California teachers involved in the lawsuit writes in the Wall Street Journal that he "realized that my dues—about $1,000 a year—went toward ideas and issues that ran counter to my beliefs." Veteran teacher and Education Week commentator Walt Gardner says if the teacher gets his way, then "he should immediately return to his school district all the raises he received over his entire career, and refuse to accept in the future the increases in salary that his union negotiates." 

He Made $1,000 an Hour Tutoring and 'Created a Monster'

Anthony-James Green has been referred to as "America's top SAT tutor." After charging as much as $1,000 per hour for his services, he "realized that as a nation, we've created a monster: a generation of disempowered, directionless, and overburdened students who work harder every year, yet continue to see their SAT scores decline. And I was becoming a key part of the problem." He stopped tutoring, realizing that students he tutored one-on-one actually did worse than students to whom he merely sent his study materials: read his explanation (Vox Media).

Schools Add  Not Drop  Recess to Improve Learning

Some schools have cut recess, claiming that there just isn't enough time with the increased rigor of academic demands. But in response to research saying that "kids with regular recess behave better, are physically healthier and exhibit stronger social and emotional development," other schools are adding more recess -- even having as many as four recess periods per day. Teachers say kids are less distracted and are even ahead of schedule with curriculum (Connelly, NPR.org). 

New Education Tech Plan Sets Future Vision

The nation's recently released 2016 National Education Technology Plan articulates a vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible. Included are numerous stories from the field, such as how the Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana expanded access to technology and how a small district decided to create and use openly licensed content instead of purchasing textbooks. Key recommendations include:

  • Redesigning teacher preparation programs to more thoughtfully integrate technology.
  • Ensure equitable access to technology and connectivity inside and outside of school.
  • Adopt openly licensed educational materials in place of staid, proprietary textbooks.
  • Implement universal design principles across all educational institutions and in teacher preparation.

How ESSA Creates Opportunities for Teacher Leadership

For the first time, ESSA, the new law replacing No Child Left Behind, makes numerous references to teacher leadership. U.S. Department of Education Teacher Leader in Residence Maddie Fennell shares three new access points to teachers courtesy of ESSA. She writes that, "For many educators, NCLB was an attack on our schools and our profession ... ESSA offers us a truce and an opportunity to learn from past mistakes." (Education Week Teacher). 

The Teaching Profession


Alton L. Frailey

Celebrating African American Educators

Alton L. Frailey is the Superintendent of the Katy Independent School District (Katy, TX). Frailey is also a member of the AASA, the School Superintendents Association.

Why and how did you decide upon a career in education? Working with children comes naturally to me. It is work I enjoy. Education was a game changer for me and being immersed in working with students allows me to help change the world for them.

In what ways do you encourage parents, family members, and other caring adults to support the learning and development of African American students? The role of the parent and community is critical for the growth and development of any student. For the African American student this is even more critical. I encourage all to balance the actions of helping the student feel “special” with a strong sense of belonging.

 What do you want to see change within education to better support the learning and development of African American students? I want to see leaders in more of our schools reflect the students in our schools. I want the achievements and contributions of African American leaders better highlighted and integrated into the overall story of the development of our country. I want our students prepared to be fully and effectively functional, socially literate and positive contributors to our society. 

Celebrating African American Educators will be on hiatus next week. We look forward to sharing more profiles soon

Higher Expectations

Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?

The conclusion of a report from the University of Virginia found that kindergarten, in terms of teacher expectations and how classroom time is spent, has “become startlingly like first grade.” Researchers used data from an early childhood longitudinal study in 1998 and 2011 to compare kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2010. Critics argue that focusing heavily on academic content is not developmentally appropriate and can crowd out other important types of learning experiences that help develop social skills or foster physical and mental health. The study emphasizes the need for high quality early childhood education prior to kindergarten (Camera, U.S. News & World Reports). 


New Math

Peer-to-peer online sexual harassment affects about 1 in 4 children. The findings are based on a survey of 439 middle- and high-school students. 

Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice (Michigan State University), 

Too Much Screen Time

Overexposing Young Kids to Screens Might Lead to ADHD

Seattle doctor Dimitri Christakis says that overexposing kids younger than three-years-old to screens increases the risk of attentional deficits at school age. The typical preschool child watches four hours of television per day -- about 30 percent of their waking hours -- but kids who spent time reading, singing, and playing with children decrease their risk of attentional deficits later on. Christakis suggests that ADHD might be being overdiagnosed and instead that we should focus on helping students along a continuum of attentional capacity (KamenetzNPR). 

Resources for Educators

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• ESSA Public Comments. ED is accepting written comments concerning issues related to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to help clarify statutory ambiguities or to provide appropriate flexibility, through January 21 -- see the Federal Register notice for instructions. The Department will decide whether to proceed with negotiated rulemaking after considering the feedback received via the public hearings and online. 

• Celebrate MLK Day. The Corporation for National and Community Service is asking Americans to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy on January 18 by making the holiday a day ON -- versus a day off.  A dedicated web site offers up a toolkit to plan for the day of service, enables organizers to register projects nationwide, and provides free lesson plans on Dr. King’s legacy of service.

• Apply Science Strategies. Stanford University is launching a new free MOOC for K-12 science teachers who want to help their students better understand scientific texts that will be available on the NovoEd platform. The course titled “Reading To Learn in Science” will be taught by Professor Jonathan Osborne (Schaffhauser, The Journal).

• Ready to be Counted. A wide array of high-quality research combines to show that intrapersonal and interpersonal noncognitive skills, such as self-control and social competence, are well-established predictors of success in academics, career, and well-being. A new report makes a powerful case for social and emotional learning based on a wide body of research.  

Students' Corner

Tools for Students

Money for Students. ED wants to help students get access to billion in grants, loans, and work-study funds. To make sure that students do not leave money on the table, check out these resources: 7 Things You Need Before You Fill Out the FAFSA7 Steps to Filling Out the FAFSA; and 11 Common FAFSA Mistakes

Top 5 Quotes

King at Tea with Teachers

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "When you put teachers together in the same room, that’s P.D" (Teacher, New Mexico). 

4. "Teachers are broken. If we help them put their hearts back together, then they can do that for their broken students" (Teacher, Georgia).

3. "I see myself as a change agent, an equity lever for  my students" (Teacher, New York).

2. "Teachers need the opportunity to pay forward some of their talents" (Teacher, Washington DC).

1. "We need to treat teachers as the solution to the problems in education, rather than the cause of the problems in education" (Teacher, New Mexico).