TEACHING MATTERS--September 19, 2012


September 19, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

Arne Duncan at bus tour event in California

Arne Across America

Secretary Arne Duncan kicked off the "Education Drives America" back-to-school bus tour at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, Calif. last Wednesday by hosting a panel discussion on education technology with Khan Academy founder Sal Khan. During the event attended by enthusiastic students and teachers, student-created video, "We Are the Future," brought down the house. The video was made in conjunction with the John Lennon Educational Bus and the Black-Eyed Peas and it included clips of Arne autotuned. Watch the entire event here. Read these related blog posts by Sequoia High students Edward Mei and Addie McNamara.

The bus tour continues through Friday, so be sure to visit ed.gov/bustour to read all of the bus tour blog posts and stay up-to-date on the latest bus tour happenings:

Adult Educators Connect Online

The Department of Education launched an online professional community specifically for adult educators: “Literacy Information and Communication System” (LINCS). The site provides adult educators with access to resources; on-demand, Web-based professional development opportunities, including online courses and targeted face-to-face trainings; and a connected network of practitioners, called a “community of practice.” LINCS also offers specialized tools, including the ability for educators across the country to engage in real-time discussions. Read the press release. To join a LINCS community group, visit http://lincs.ed.gov.

Brian Williams at moderating town hall

Set Your VCR/DVR for the Ed. Nation Live Teacher Town Hall

Brian Williams will once again moderate the annual Teacher Town Hall during Education Nation this week. The event will air live on MSNBC from the New York Public Library on Sunday, Sept 23rd. News about education will be covered the week of September 23 on NBC and MSNBC.


Kindergarten Teacher Steven Hicks Brings Experience to Office of Early Learning

Meet Steven Hicks, an educator from California who uses his experience as a teacher in his work as a Special Assistant in the Office of Early Learning. 
Steven Hicks with students during ED Goes Back to School

The New Math

A new study published in Educational Leadership (May 2012) shows that teachers who receive less pedagogical training are more likely to leave teaching. Furthermore, math and science teachers, specifically, are more likely to leave the profession early on: 14.5% of math teachers and 18.2% of science teachers quit teaching after the first year, compared with 12.3% of teachers who leave from all other subjects.

Percent of First-Year Teachers Who Leave the Profession


question mark

Did you know?

The job of “Education Program Specialist” at the U.S. Department of Education is one of ten designated as Mission Critical. To be considered for the position, applicants must have teaching experience and/or teacher training. Education Program Specialists establish and lead the education program, policies, and activities for which the Department of Education is responsible under law, and the Department recognizes that teaching experience is critical to the programs’ success. Check out this current opening for an Education Program Specialist to work in the Office of Early Learning at ED. Search for other job openings at the U.S. Department of Education here.

DC Public Schools LIFTS Teachers

Too often teachers find that the only way to advance in their careers is to leave work they love in the classroom. To change this paradigm, Washington D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) is giving teachers a LIFT, a  Leadership Initiative For Teachers. In addition to providing educators with a five-stage career ladder, highly effective teachers are offered opportunities for advancement inside the classroom, additional responsibility, and increased recognition and compensation. In other words, they are being respected as professionals! Find out more. 

Congratulations, 2012 Blue Ribbon Schools!

On September 7, Secretary Duncan announced the 2012 Blue Ribbon Schools at Arlington Traditional Elementary School, one of the 269 schools selected this year. “Great schools don’t happen by chance. Great schools happen by design,” he said. Read more.
Arne at Blue Ribbon Event getting a high-five

More States Request NCLB Flexibility

Seven more states (Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia), Puerto Rico, and the Bureau of Indian Education submitted requests for flexibility from No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Each is applying to exchange flexibility with their state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and careers, to channel aid to the neediest students, and to support effective teaching and leadership. These latest requests bring the total number of states that have either requested waivers or have already been approved to implement next-generation education reforms that go far beyond No Child Left Behind’s rigid, top-down prescriptions to 44. Read the press release. Find out if your state has been granted flexibility from NCLB and read state-specific requests. For more information about flexibility, check out the ESEA flexibility website.

Teachers' Notes

  • StoryCorps offers a free curriculum for high schools that helps students to prepare for college. Called StoryCorpU, the program provides interactive, standards-based lessons that include interviewing techniques to enhance studentsʼ skills speaking, listening, and thinking critically, while also fostering their self-awareness and social responsibility. View a video introduction to StoryCorpsU.
  • Everyone at the Table is an organization that seeks to engage teachers in education reform by offering resources to promote teacher dialogue and to build support. From their home page: "Too often, teachers' voices are left out when new teacher evaluation systems are designed and implemented. Everyone at the Table provides materials to genuinely engage teachers and stimulate candid and respectful dialogue that gets to the heart of their perspectives on teacher evaluation." The site includes a number of videos, discussion guides, and other resources for teacher leaders.
  • Share these simple back-to-school tips from the U.S. Department of Education with your students' parents so that you can help parents help you set students up for success.

Top 5 Educator Tweets from the Bus Tour

(Wisdom from teachers heard by ED)

5.   "Technology won't save education. Great teachers with great tools will save education." (Santa Rosa, Calif.) #edtour12

4.  "As a student teacher I am in the classroom for a full year. This is more than most teacher preparation programs, and yet, I wonder if it’s still enough.” (Stanford, Calif.)

early stop on the bus tour
3."If students are cheating on homework, then you've created the wrong kind of homework. You can't duplicate critical thinking!" (Tweet from the bus tour)

2. On all of the "overtime" teachers put in to spend time with their students: "We should be able to claim (it) on our taxes!" (Salt Lake City, Utah)

1. Rethinking teacher prep: Students should be telling others that they are "not pre-med, but pre-ED!" (East Palo Alto, Calif.)

Hispanic Educators Honored as "Champions of Change"

The White House and the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics honored ten educators who have devoted their time and efforts to working in communities, inspiring their students to excel and promoting the teaching profession by setting a strong example in the classroom. These educators have focused on improving student outcomes and closing the academic achievement gap for their students – most of whom are Hispanic and English Language Learners. “America’s future is inseparable from the Hispanic community’s future – and by strengthening the academic success of Latino students, we strengthen our nation’s long-term economic prosperity,” said U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “These leaders have shown an absolute dedication to helping their students succeed and are examples of the profound impact that educators can have not only in their classrooms, but in their communities.” View their profiles.

Secretary Arne Duncan's Statement in Response to Events in Chicago:

“I hope that the parties will come together to settle this quickly and get our kids back in the classroom. I’m confident that both sides have the best interests of the students at heart, and that they can collaborate at the bargaining table – as teachers and school districts have done all over the country – to reach a solution that puts kids first.”

Recommended Reading

  • Two terrific articles written by Teach Plus Policy Fellows as a follow-up to The Irreplaceables:  In "How schools can keep their best teachers" (published in the Washington Post), special education teacher Allison Frieze (Washington, D.C.) describes why she left a school where she had been identified as "highly effective" for two years. Frieze joined another school in the same area because she longed for a leader who nurtures and values great teaching. In "You’re a teacher. What’s next?," science teacher Erin Dukeshire (Mass.) explains how teacher leadership organizations such as Teach Plus and America Achieves have helped her to stay in the profession by cultivating her talents and expanding her horizons. Her article was first published in the Hechinger Report.
  • Fordham Policy Fellow Peter Meyer makes a convincing argument for educators to be concerned about preparing all students for college, regardless of whether or not they attend. According to Meyer, "it’s an education policy issue that, played out in the trenches, is very much a social justice issue, if not a moral one—and, I would argue, very much a national security issue." Read "The Best Education for All," published in Huffington Post and appearing originally in the Fordham Institute's Board's Eye View blog.
  • The Calder Institute recently published its second CALDER Conversation, this one about "Test Based Meansures of Teacher Effectiveness." The document provides a discussion among Calder researchers Tim Sass, Eric Hanushek, Cory Kodel, and Dan Goldhaber, who attempt to describe "value added measures and to answer questions such as these: How much are the differences in teacher effectiveness suggested by value-added estimates? and How good are these measures in distinguishing among high and low performing teachers and predicting the future performance of teachers?