September 5, 2012


September 5, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

side view of 2012 bus

Back-to-School Bus Tour Revs Up

Arne Duncan's third annual Back-to-School Bus Tour begins Wednesday, Sept. 12 in California and traverses the country to land in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Sept. 21. This year Arne, members of his staff and Teaching Ambassador Fellows will visit with educators, community members and parents to highlight successes and talk about P-12 school reform, college affordability and the link between education and jobs. Their mantra:  Education Drives America.  Sign up to get daily updates and press clips from the bus tour. 
First Stop: Silicon Valley. In Redwood City, Calif., Arne will moderate a Digital Town Hall at Sequoia High School that will include FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Andrew Ng of Coursera, and Sal Khan of Khan Academy. From there, the Secretary and his staff head to Sacramento, Calif., and Reno, Nev. You can follow the tour virtually on the blog and on Twitter with hashtag #EDtour12.
bus tour map

"Dear Secretary Duncan..."

Teacher Reform Strategy Gets Some RESPECT

On August 27, 34 education organizations wrote to Secretary Duncan to convey “strong support for the Obama Administration’s teacher education reform strategy as described in ‘Our Future, Our Teachers.’” The letter urged the advancement of the policy through Executive action as quickly as possible.  Chiefs for Change, the National Council of La Raza, the Center for American Progress, Education Sector, and the Council of Great City Schools, were just several of the diverse organizations represented. The letter called on Duncan to take “deliberate and swift administrative action on Title II regulations” until Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act. It also argued for better data and reporting from states regarding their teacher preparation programs. Read the letter

Dan Brown

What Makes a Great Teacher?

Read Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow and D.C. English Teacher Dan Brown's perspective on what it takes to develop teachers who can handle the complex demands of leading a classroom. Brown describes his first teaching experience as a “failure” and offers insights into how he acquired the necessary skills to become a teacher who makes a difference. According to Brown, "It takes a village."

893 School Districts Intend to Apply for RTT Grants

The latest round of Race to the Top grants (RTT-D) allows districts to apply for federal funds to focus on personalizing learning for students. Districts are also able to join with other districts in their state in their application. Read the blog articleFind out which school districts in your state notified ED of their intent to apply for these 4-year grants that range from $5 million to $40 million. Applications are due by October 30.

The New Math

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently published Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study. The study offers new data to clarify the racial, gender and socio-economic gaps that persist in k-12 education. Data reflected in the chart below show that of all of the students who took the ACT exam in 2011, 44% of Asian males achieved scores consistent with being prepared for college in four subjects, while 35% of white males, 14% of Hispanic males, and 5% of African American males were prepared. For women, the numbers are even more troubling, with 37% of Asian females, 28% of white females, and 4 % of Latino and African American females prepared for college in four subjects.
Graph indicating percentage of students who were college ready, by subgroups.

Ask Arne screen

Duncan Answers Questions about the Rising Cost of College

"College is the best investment you can make in your future." (Arne Duncan). Watch his video response to Facebook readers' concerns that, because college costs have increased dramatically, students cannot afford a post-secondary education.

Teachers' Notes

Check out newly released back-to-school facts from National Center for Education Statistics. Among them: 
  • Public school systems will employ about 3.3 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers this fall, such that the number of pupils per FTE teacher—that is, the pupil/teacher ratio—will be 15.2. 
  • In fall 2012, over 49.8 million students will attend public elementary and secondary schools. Of these, 35.1 million will be in prekindergarten through 8th grade and 14.8 million will be in grades 9 through 12. An additional 5.3 million students are expected to attend private schools.
  • About 1.3 million children are expected to attend public prekindergarten this fall.

Additional facts on the previous school years can be found at the U.S. Census Bureau.

Arne Duncan speaking with an educator.

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

(Wisdom from teachers heard by ED)
5.  Reflecting on another teacher in her school: "It is impossible to be in her class and not learn." (La.)
4.  "Children are individuals…what works with one may not work for another." (from comments left by Margo on the blog).
3. Discussing the impact of poverty on teaching and learning:  "I’m sensitive to the needs of the students all over and I don’t want to minimize their challenges. I’m not pretending to be a miracle maker. I’m just sharing what works with me. I do realize all the struggles some kids (and teachers) have…trust me, I’m wishing for a solution. I just can’t accept that we need to wait for funding for everyone. Not true. We need to start in anyway." (from comments left by Paul on the blog)
2. "We think it's important to tell our students, 'All of you can succeed, and you will!' Why isn't it (also) equally important to tell our eager but unseasoned teachers, 'All of you can become great teachers, and with our help (you) will.'?" (Seattle, Wash.)
1. “We [teachers] need to have more of these conversations about improving the system. The five-class, 150-student workload has to end.” (Md.)

Arne Explains ED's Goals

In an interview with CNN's Christine Romans, Arne Duncan talks about the President's education priorities.  In the interview, Arne talked about the RESPECT Project "to collectively elevate and strengthen the (teaching) profession.” Duncan also stressed the importance of students and parents working in partnership with teachers so that students are well prepared to succeed in the international economy. “Rather than pointing fingers, all of us have to come to the table. We have to challenge students to take their own education very seriously. And we have to challenge parents to be a full and equal partner with their children’s teachers,” he said.
Arne Duncan and Christine Romans on CNN

Hope for Motor City Teachers in Danger of Foreclosure

Have you or an educator in your area had your income reduced? If so, the HOPE NOW Alliance and the United States Treasury will be in the Detroit area to assist families who need mortgage relief. This free outreach event is Tuesday, Sept. 8 from 1:00-8:00 p.m. at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center. Get free help putting your documents together by calling the hotline: 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).

Teaching Ambassadors Recommend Reading

From Maryann Woods-Murphy: Languages in a Global World, published in April of 2012 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The book examines the connections between living in a flat world and language learning. The resource is a compilation of the contributions of a variety of authors on topics like motivation, language and culture, identity and language learning, and teaching. This book is an interesting read for anyone who wants to understand language competencies and why they are valuable, especially today.