Growth in Funding U.S. Prisons Far Exceeds That of Schools -- THE TEACHERS EDITION - July 14, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

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

summer slide

National Summer Learning Day

To raise awareness about the importance of opportunities for youth over the summer months, including providing access to learning activities, jobs, and meals, leaders from ED and the Administration will participate in Summer Learning Day today. Events are being held around the country to get the word out to teachers, community leaders, parents, and students about how critical summer learning is in reducing violence and closing the achievement gap. ED has launched a Summer Learning Portal with access to additional resources and tools to help design and implement effective summer learning programs, as well as a video with great six tips on Facebook and Twitter to help avoid the #SummerSlide. 

tawana Bostic higher achievement


As the center director at Higher Achievement, an afterschool and summer academic program in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., Tawana Bostic helps middle school students avoid the summer slide. In her own words on our Homeroom blog, find out more about how her students at the six-week summer academy get ahead of the curve -- taking classes with curriculum aligned for the year ahead, not the year behind, and experience the joy of learning without prepping for tests and focusing on grades.

ED Encourages Striking Balance with Better, Fewer Tests


Secretary John King spoke with teachers last week about restoring the balance on testing in America's classrooms. The federal testing schedule requires only 17 tests total, yet on average, students take some 112 tests between pre-K and 12th grade. ED released new proposed regulations that seek to ensure fairer and better tests and allow a small set of states to pilot new approaches to assessment. The regulations seek to limit the number of tests states and districts require -- beyond those that are federally mandated -- and allow states to rethink the way they administer standardized tests. 

Secretary King Speaks Out on Recent Tragedies

Secretary John King spoke out about the tragedies in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Minneapolis last week. He said, "All of our hearts break for the loss of life over the last few days around the country. We mourn the loss of life of police officers [Thursday], mourn the loss of life of folks in interactions with police [last] week, mourn for our country and the pain and division that we are experiencing." Speaking to a group of educators, he invited them to "reflect on the role that educators will play in trying to explain the unexplainable to young people all across the country." 

Coming of Age in a City That's Coming Apart


In a timely and moving story, Washington Post reporter Theresa Vargas goes inside one Baltimore school where the principal realized that her trauma-affected students needed more than academics. "These kids don't look like kids," she told her staff. "They look like vets coming home from foreign wars. At any given moment, something can trigger them." Three of the school's students were murdered this year, yet there are also tremendous success stories in progress, like 18-year-old Khalil Bridges, who visited the White House and spoke at a conference in New Mexico this year despite previously selling drugs because he says he "didn't have a choice." 

German School Seeks to 'Turn Teaching Upside Down'

There are no grades until kids turn age 15, no timetables, and no lecture-style instructions. Classes are titled "responsibility" and "challenge." In the challenge course, students are given 150 British pounds (approximately $200) and told to take a self-driven adventure. At the Evangelical School Berlin Centre, the model is driven by a desire to instill in students the ability to motivate themselves, a skill the headmaster says is particularly needed in our changing society. There's a long waiting list and kids who previously struggled in school are finding success (Oltermann, The Guardian). 

Growth in Funding U.S. Prisons Far Exceeds That of Schools

prison spending

Between 1979 and 2012, state and local government expenditures on schools grew by 107 percent, while spending on prisons and jails grew by 324 percent, a U.S. Department of Education report found. Seven states increased their prison spending five times as fast as they did their education spending, while only two states -- New Hampshire and Massachusetts -- did not experience corrections spending growing at a rate higher than school spending (KellyReuters). 

How This Teacher Will Never Forget Her Memorable Class


Oklahoma first grade teacher Sha-Ree' Castlebury wanted to find a way to remember her class this year. So she had her entire class draw all over a white dress that she'd use as a keepsake. Since she posted the dress on Facebook at the end of the school year, it has received more than 66,000 shares. "I am so happy for my kids and their artwork," Castlebury says (WanshelHuffington Post). 

Why We Should Train Teachers Like We Train Doctors

Teaching candidates need more of an upfront investment, so say administrators from the Bank Street College of Education in a New York Times op-ed. The writers share the benefits of yearlong co-teaching residencies, where candidates work alongside accomplished teachers while studying child development and teaching methods. They suggest that much of the money to sustain these programs could come from reallocating existing funding from professional development, substitute teachers, and teaching assessments. 

student at computer

Glue for the Future

Who knows what some of the jobs of the future will be, but most American parents - 9 in 10 - want thier kids to study computer science in school. Lisette Partelow, a contributor to U.S. News and World Report, argues that computer science expertise will be crucial to our children's futures. While there is some disagreement about expanding computer science education in K-12 schools, gaining a basic understanding of how computer systems work will be an asset for most students.

New Guidance Encourages Well-Rounded Education 

Yesterday, ED released a new resource for state and local district officials and educators, highlighting the ways in which federal funds can be used to better support humanities-based educational strategies in the coming school year.  The Dear Colleague Letter defines humanities education to include, among other subjects, social studies—including history, civics, government, economics and geography—literature, art, music, and philosophy, as well as other non-STEM subjects that are not generally covered by an English language arts curriculum. The new resource details ways that states and districts can use federal funds to expand access for students to a rich, rigorous and more well-rounded education. 

What to Know, What to Read, and How to Create Change

ASCD's flagship magazine, Educational Leadership, tackles the topic of “How to Be a Change Agent” in its summer issue and features contributions from educators including 2015 National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples and Maddie Fennell, ED's Teacher Leader in Residence. The contributors look at the complex situations our schools and the teaching profession face and ask, “What must be changed?” and “How can we improve on what we do?” ASCD also has a summer reading list for educators, with recommendations on books for all different needs, including redefining student success, and teaching and learning

Resources to Use

What We Heard from Educators This Week


5. "Our schools should never set up classrooms to be great testing environments. Focus should always be on the learners" (Teacher, Texas).

4. "Good classroom design is about empathy. Learning environments must reflect heartbeat of students" (Administrator, New Jersey).

3. "Technology will never replace the value of a great teacher. It will, however, shape how we define great teaching" (Administrator, Missouri).

2. "If you have been made a leader, you have to pay that forward" (Administrator, New York).

1. "We integrated our schools, but we forgot to integrate our curriculum" (Teacher, Washington D.C.).