The Teachers Edition

May 22, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

still from Ask Arne video

In an interview with Teaching Ambassador Fellow Emily Davis, Arne Duncan discusses teacher leadership, urging educators to break the unhealthy pattern "where the only way to do more, to make more money, is to become an administrator."


Teach to Lead logo

In the latest Ask Arne video, Arne Duncan discusses questions about teacher leadership and the new Teach to Lead initiative, recently launched in partnership with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

Duncan describes Teach to Lead as an effort to break the unfortunate "bifurcation between teaching and leadership that doesn't make sense." In the video, teacher Emily Davis talks about teacher leadership frankly with Duncan, posing some tough questions, such as, "How do we keep the integrity of this vision?"

Learn more about Teach to Lead. Follow the discussion on Twitter, @teachtolead, where educators can share their response to the Ask Arne video and answer the question of the week. Check out the Teach to Lead website to view snapshots of “Leadership in Action." Click “Take the Survey” on the homepage to sign up for updates as ED and the National Board prepare to fully launch the Teach to Lead effort.

2014 Fishman Prize Winners

Fishman Prize-winning teachers Laura StraitSteven Sanders, Kelly Zunkiewicz and Michael Towne are in a class by themselves. 


Four Teachers Win TNTP Honors for Superlative Classroom Practice

Four outstanding teachers who serve students in high-poverty public schools have just won TNTP’s Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, now in its third year. The winners will each receive $25,000 and participate in a summer residency with TNTP, during which they will reflect on their work in the classroom, author a paper on their teaching strategies, and meet with national education leaders. Check out the winners and their accomplishments.

Kelly Zunkiewicz, 9th-12th Grade Precalculus and AP Calculus at Earl J. Lennard High School in Ruskin, Fla.

Laura Strait, 4th-5th Grade at Aspire ERES Academy in Oakland, Calif.

Michael Towne, 10th-12th Grade Physics and Engineering at Citrus Hill High School in Perris, Calif.

Steven Sanders, 9th-12th Grade Band at UIC College Prep in Chicago, Ill.



A new initiative seeks to build awareness of the benefits and successes of "teacher-powered schools" nationwide and inspire other teachers and communities to create more of them. The Teacher-Powered Schools Initiative has been launched with the release of national survey data that reveal overwhelming public support and teacher interest in a professional partnership model of teacher leadership. 

Schools Worth Watching


No Limits

College signing day isn't just for athletes anymore, according to Aundrea Cline-Thomas's article about a metro Nashville school that doubled the number of students going to college. At a pep rally for students heading to college this fall, seniors at Glencliff High School like class President Kordell Young recount their stories of being the first in their generation to achieve the dream of higher education. Learn more (News Channel 5).

the new math

Separate, and not so Equal

 68 percent of black students—only two-thirds—attend a high school that offers calculus 
• 81 percent of white high school students have the option of taking calculus, as do 87 percent of Asian-American students

From information gleaned in ED's Civil Rights Data Collection. In a speech before the Education Writers Association this week, Duncan lamented data that show minority students are less likely to attend schools that offer AP classes, calculus, or physics.

ED staff person helping a student

 (Diana Schneider, an education program specialist in the Office of English Language Acquisition at ED, helps a student during her day shadowing a teacher. Once an English learner herself, Schneider later made connections between what she saw while visiting a Washington, D.C. school and her own early experiences in U.S. schools. )


What I Hope She Learned in my Class

In last week's Teachers Edition, the teachers at ED shared the experiences of ED staffers who participated in ED Goes Back to School, our annual shadowing event. In this ED blog, we hear from one of the teachers shadowed about the benefits and the outcomes of the experience. 

Flora Lerenman, an English as a Second Language teacher at H.D. Cooke Elementary School in Washington, D.C. reflects on shared experiences, policy and field collaboration, the critical insights, and the lasting connections that students, teachers, and policymakers have created.


60 Years after the Landmark Ruling

The Christian Science Monitor reports that sixty years after the Supreme Court ruled segregated schools were unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, “the gains in school integration that followed have largely been reversed,” with many schools being “racially isolated,” with high concentrations of black and Hispanic students.The article quotes Gary Orgield, co-director of the UCLA Civil Rights Project saying, “These schools are related to more limited opportunities and more limited results.” Read the article (Khadaroo).

In Huffington Post, Arne Duncan reflects on the anniversary of the  landmark decision. In remarks made to the Education Writers Association this week, he asks, "Where is the outrage" over the pernicious de facto segregation that still exists in our schools? 

Watch First Lady Michelle Obama speaking to high school seniors in Topeka, Kansas, home of the historic case. Read how Educators for Excellence are talking about the Brown v. Board ruling.

prom photo

Special education teacher Brett Bigham sent us this photo of a student attending his district's fifth annual prom for students with disabilities. (Photos by Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian)


Everybody Dances

girls at the prom

In Multnomah County, everyone gets to go to the prom. Since 2010, the Multnomah Education Service District has been puttin' on the Ritz in a special prom for students with disabilities. 

The idea for the unique prom was introduced by Oregon's 2014 Teacher of the Year Brett Bigham, whose classroom hosts the daytime prom so that young adults with special needs have the opportunity to experience what has become a rite of passage for teens.

"Many kids with severe disabilities end up in foster care and group homes or in alternative programs that are small," Bigham told the teachers at ED. "Those programs don't have proms, and the foster care system is not funded in such a way to provide staffing to take our students to night-time activities." Because Bigham has several students who can't go anywhere without a licensed nurse, the daytime prom means every student can dance.

Learn more (Chappell, NPR). View photos.

P Chat


Free Webinar on Summer Melt

Summer melt is the unwelcome phenomenon where college-enrolled high school graduates don’t show up to school the following fall, in effect “melting away” during the summer.

Nationally about 10 to 20 percent of college eligible students melt, and most of these are low-income minority students planning to enroll in community college. This month the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics will offer a free webinar describing the Administration’s efforts to improve college access and provide an overview of strategies to address summer melt.

Learn moreRegister to attend by emailing Participants must be registered in order to receive the presentation materials that will be reviewed during the webinar.


Opportunities for International Study

ED has announced two new grant competitions that support the professional development of K-12 teachers, pre-service teachers, doctoral students, and post-secondary faculty. Educators may study in a host country for four weeks or up to three months, depending on the type of project proposed. 

The Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program provides grants to colleges and universities to fund individual doctoral students who conduct research in other countries in modern foreign languages and area studies for periods of six to 12 months. The Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program provides grants to colleges and universities, state departments of education, and nonprofit educational organizations to support overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development in modern foreign languages and area studies. The due date for submitting applications for the DDRA and the GPA programs is June 24, 2014.

Lupita - teacher with her class


Rural Roots

Lupita Prado Machuca, once an English language learner, teaches students from the same community where she grew up and helps them to see the importance of an education that prepares them for college and the workforce. 

Lupita is the product of efforts in Kern County, Calif. to change the face of teacher preparation. California State University Bakersfield, with funding support from an ED Teacher Quality Partnerships grant, brings teachers into classrooms as a co-teachers and provides field experience from day one, increasing the teacher candidate's confidence and abilities when taking on their own classroom. The rural-based program provides access and incentives to new teachers to stay in the community. Watch the video

Students' Corner

Tools for Students

TYING UP LOOSE ENDS. Written by school counselor Cheryl Knudsonthis blog article features a number of useful tips for seniors about what to do before heading off to college. Read the tips.

ASK FAFSA. On Wednesday, May 28, the Federal Student Aid office will hold its #AskFAFSA Office Hours from 5-6 p.m., ET on Twitter. The topic is “Graduation: What’s next?” 

The live session on Twitter gives students and parents the opportunity to ask FSA’s experts questions related to federal financial aid. Students may submit questions and join the conversation using the hashtag #AskFAFSA and tune in during the live event for answers from our experts. Get more informationLive stream the program. View an archived transcript the following day.

FREE BOOK. This summer students in first-sixth grade can earn free books simply by reading any eight books and writing about their favorite part in the Barnes and Noble Imagination's Destination Summer Reading Program Reading Journal. When children take their completed journal to a Barnes & Noble bookstore, they get to choose a free book from the list. 

We have all followed the backlash against Donald Sterling's bigoted remarks. It's a backlash that was entirely fitting. But as outraged as we are by the words of one man, where is the outrage over our nation's achievement gaps and the fact that millions of our children still don't receive equal educational opportunity?” 

(Arne Duncan in remarks about the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education made to the Education Writers Association in Nashville, Tenn., this week.)

Quote to Note



For Eduwonks and Insomniacs

FIRST IN THE WORLD. ED announced a new $75 million grant competition called First in the World that will provide funding for innovative strategies and approaches to improve college attainment and make higher education more affordable for students and families. The competition is a response to President Obama's call to spur innovation, foster constructive competition, and remove barriers to empower college and universities in developing and testing new strategies to enroll and graduate more students. Learn more

WHOLE CHILD DATA. ASCD has released snapshots that gauge states on their attention to the whole child, including non-cognitive factors that affect learning. The state reports include a range of data points, including poverty and visits to the dentist and doctor. Learn more (Blad, EdWeek).

THE STATE OF PRESCHOOL. The National Institute for Early Education Research’s (NIEER) 2013 State Preschool Yearbook finds that while the number of four-year-olds enrolled in state-funded preschool programs declined, the per-child funding increased. Other findings:

 For the first time in the report’s history (since 2001), enrollment of four-year-olds in state-funded preschool decreased, by 9,160 students;

 State pre-K funding per child increased by $36 (inflation-adjusted) from the previous year, regaining less than 10% of last year’s cut of $442 per child;

 For the first time, every state-funded pre-K program has comprehensive early learning standards; and

 41% of  programs nationwide  met fewer than half of NIEER’s quality standards benchmarks.

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• WHO GETS TO GRADUATE? This interesting New York Times story, by Paul Tough, takes a closer look at the specific difficulties faced in college by high-achieving, but economically disadvantaged, students. Tough writes, "To put it in blunt terms: Rich kids graduate; poor and working-class kids don’t." His analysis about why may surprise readers. Read the article.

 THE "ART" OF TURNING SCHOOLS AROUNDCBS News reports on First Lady Michelle Obama’s celebration of schools that are using music, theater, and visual arts to teach core content with funds from the President's Turnaround Arts program that is now expanding to include 35 schools. Mrs. Obama invited students from the schools to perform in a talent show at the White House. In the report a sixth grader at the ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy (New Orleans, La.), Jarrod Gray, describes himself as a bad student who “got put out of class” before the arts woke him up and brought him back to life. View the report (Miller).

• VIDEO PLAYLISTS. The Teaching Channel has posted a couple of helpful video playlists for teachers on current topics. One features Relevant and Real Content to Engage Students and the other highlights Authentic Assessments.

• TEACHING TOLERANCE. Teaching Tolerance magazine has published a Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework to help teachers implement anti-bias education at every grade level and build classroom environments that encourage diversity, equity and justice.

• BIAS IN CLASSROOM OBSERVATIONS. Stephen Sawchuk reports on research released by the Brown Center on Educational Policy that finds principals often are not objective when they evaluate teachers' practice. Administrators "appear to give some teachers an unfair boost based on the students they’re assigned to teach, rather than judging them solely on their instructional savvy." What's more, the principals tend to rate most highly the teachers of students who traditionally perform well, penalizing teachers who work with struggling students. Read the article (EdWeek).

• CRITERIA FOR BLENDED LEARNING. At a time when there are hundreds of thousands of learning programs and apps to choose from, Tim Hudson, Senior Director of Curriculum Design for DreamBox Learning, Inc., has written a new white paper, "The Importance of Evaluating Digital Curricula." His paper provides a discussion of how to evaluate the digital curricula that will strengthen blended learning programs.

Emerging Research

NAEP SHOWS MAJORITY OF 12TH GRADERS NOT PREPARED FOR COLLEGE. An analysis of the most recent edition of the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that “less than 40 percent” of the nation’s 12th graders are “academically prepared for college.” The National Center for Education Statistics “for the first time” linked results of the NAEP “with academic preparedness for college” and the “results were sobering.” Only 39 percent of 12th graders “have the math skills needed for entry-level college course work, and 38 percent have the necessary reading skills.” Learn more (Paulson, Christian Science Monitor).

USING STANDARDS-BASED TEACHER EVALUATION. The Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania has issued a research report about using standards-based teacher evaluation as a foundation for both knowledge- and skill-based pay. The authors' research shows that moving toward standards-based evaluation should be more than a fine-tuning of the existing evaluation system. Learn more.

open book

Recommended Reading

• REFUSE TO BE A BORING TEACHER. Educator Jeffrey Benson contends that though, "It is good to know how to manage one’s boredom in life without losing one’s mind," boredom itself is not an effective teaching strategy. Instead, he offers teachers eight strategies to "avoid the boring part" in a lesson. Read his blog.

• ALL HANDS ON DECK. Tiffany Miller of the Center for American Progress reviews the latest research about extended learning and describes strategies to build community partnerships that close opportunity gaps. Read her report.

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

TEACH event in DC

Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "In grad school, we were taught how to teach reading, the theory behind it. But I didn't learn how to solve the teaching challenges that would arise when I got kids at all different levels in the same class. The new teachers coming in have these same deficits." (Teacher, Washington, D.C.)

4. "Of course, there will always be things that beginning teachers don't know, that they learn on the job. But at the same time, we shouldn't be throwing them in the deep end when they can only function in the classroom with minimal skills." (Teacher, Washington, D.C.)

3. “I teach kindergarten and know that early intervention is critical. We MUST start early and provide universal pre-K.” (Teacher, Miss.)

2. "I can't imagine ever growing tired of teaching To Kill a Mockingbird. And that's saying something." (Teacher, N.C.)

1. "I'm no longer an island." (Teacher, Denver, Colo.)