THE TEACHERS EDITION - December 11, 2014

The Teachers Edition

December 11, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

student art exhibit

P.S. 177 Technology Band member Jeremiah Estick checks out the work of artists from Singapore and the United States. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)


The Art of Celebration

The entrance halls and ground floor of ED are filled year-round with color, creativity, and powerful ideas, thanks to the talents of young artists from the United States and around the world. 

In November, ED conducted a host of special activities celebrating the 15th anniversary of International Education Week, including an opening reception and ribbon-cutting for the 2014 VSA international children’s art exhibit Yo soy…Je Suis…I am…My Neighborhoodpresented by the Office of Very Special Arts (VSA) & Accessibility and the Department’s Student Art Exhibit Program. Learn more.

"We must give our babies the best start possible to set them on a path for success the rest of their lives." Arne Duncan


Strong Start, Bright Future

High-quality early education shouldn’t just be a privilege for some children, but an opportunity for all. The foundation of a thriving middle class is access to a strong education for every child beginning in the first few years of life. But right now, the U.S. ranks 28th in the world in preschool access for four-year-old children.

This week Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced that 18 states have been awarded new funding, totaling more than $226 million, under the Preschool Development Grants program.

These grants will reach 33,000 children across the U.S. In the first year of the program alone, more than 18,000 additional children will be served in high-quality preschool. Preschool Development Grants will help the 18 winning states to build or enhance their state early learning infrastructure and expand high-quality preschool programs in high-need communities. Learn more. Check out resources. Learn where the Preschool Development Grants are headed. Learn about what Shakira and Duncan said in a Twitter chat about early education.


What Teachers Make

What teachers are paid matters. For many educators, compensation heavily influences the decision to stay in the profession and when to leave. A new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) reveals what teachers are paid in each state. Read Smart Money: What Teachers Make, How Long it Takes Them and What it Buys Them. See an interactive map of lifetime earnings in 113 districts.

Meanwhile, a recent news report out of St. Paul, Minn., reports that while the "starting salary isn't eye-popping...a teacher who spends a full career with St. Paul Public Schools can take home more money than almost anywhere in the country." Read the story (Verges, Pioneer-Press).

teacher field trip


Lessons Learned

The Teaching American History grant has provided elementary and secondary history teachers throughout the country with hands-on experiences, historical immersions, and rich understanding of historical content. 

Two educators - Lissa Bollettino and Kerry Dunne - spent four years administering the grant in eastern Massachusetts to over 500 teachers. In this blog, they share their lessons learned for how to provide the most meaningful professional development possible. Their advice is actionable and easily transfers to other content areas. Two of our favorites: if you are going to teach pedagogy to a teacher, use a teacher, and take the teachers to the content. Read more. Check out these resources and historical organizations to help support professional development to history teachers.

Emily Davis and Arne Duncan talk about testing and accountability


Can We Find a Middle Ground?

Recently Teaching Ambassador Fellow Emily Davis sat down with Arne Duncan to talk about concerns she is hearing from teachers and principals about testing and accountability. Listen to their conversation

Teach to Lead update

LUCKY IN KENTUCKY. Teacher leaders and supporting organizations from all over the country convened at the first Teach to Lead Regional Teacher Leader Summit in Louisville, Kentucky, last weekend. The purpose of the summit was for teacher leaders to work on teams to create a plan to move forward teacher leadership in their school, district or state. They also gained knowledge and skills to help them achieve their goals. Read the Storify. Chicago, Ill., teacher Allan Fluharty came to the Summit to work on an educational equity issue that he first wrote about in July for VIVA Teachers. 

HOPE CONTINUES THE SUMMIT CONVERSATION. Hope Street Group's Teacher Fellows are hosting a Twitter chat to discuss the major takeaways from the Summit, the impact of the Summit on Teacher Leadership across the profession, and what they are hoping to see and looking forward to as the next Summit in Denver approaches. Join them in #HSGedchat Monday, December 15 at 8:30 p.m. EDT.

A SCHOOL LEADERSHIP MODEL. Opportunity Culture has published a multi-classroom leadership model to extend the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within budget. Nashville’s pioneering Opportunity Culture schools are now in their second year of using the model.

P Chat

Principal Chat

THE PRINCIPALSHIP: "NOBLE ATTEMPT, DAFFY MODEL." Check out this interesting blog from former principal Mike Lee (Stories from School AZ). His message about the unmanageable volume of expectations placed on principals, supported primarily by "trainings and binders" has caused the profession to be untenable. Lee calls on principals to "rethink their position." 

Common Core Connections

COMMON CORE MEETS "THE NEW COLOSSUS." Teachers at ED are loving this authentic video of teachers in Washoe County, Nev., describing how they moved from skepticism and frustration about the new state standards toward understanding, acceptance and support.

On the video, educators speak candidly about their doubts that their students would be motivated and able to engage with complex texts required by the Common Core. They experienced a total transformation, however, through their experience working collaboratively with the Washoe Core Task Project

One teacher describes her early anxiety that her fifth graders would be uninterested in and unable to examine rhyme scheme in Emma Lazarus' difficult poem "The New Colossus." Afterward, she characterizes herself as "humbled at what these kids can do if we get out of the way." Another teacher agreed. "It's a civil rights issue to withhold instruction because we feel they can't do it." Learn more (Morones, EdWeek). 

COLLABORATING ON THE CORE. Learn about a unique district-charter partnership in Washington, D.C. that is bringing together more than 200 teachers from diverse schools to inspire and learn from one another to increase student engagement and achievement. Read the story (Progress). Watch an interesting video about their work.


If Common Core fails, education reform will regress and American students' flat or falling test results in learning will continue. It must be noted that many of Common Core's critics still lack a persuasive alternative or any alternative at all.” 

Former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett, in op-ed (CNN).

Quote to Note

TAF and PAF news

AARON BREDENKAMP (2012 Classroom Fellow ): Check out this interview with the new PDK Emerging Leader and Dean of Students at Westside High School (Omaha, Neb.).

News Flash


Look for applications for ED's Teaching Ambassador Fellowship and Principal Ambassador Fellowship to be posted Friday. Information will also be included in next week's newsletter. Subscribe to the Teachers Edition.

visiting a center for incarcerated youth

Eric Holder and Arne Duncan visit with incarcerated youth at a juvenile detention center to announce new guidance.


Painting a Different Picture of Education 

Secretary Duncan and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced a Correctional Education Guidance Package aimed at helping states and local agencies strengthen the quality of education services provided to America’s estimated 60,000 young people in confinement every day.

This guidance package builds on recommendations in the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force report released in May to “reform the juvenile and criminal justice systems to reduce unnecessary interactions for youth and to enforce the rights of incarcerated youth to a quality education.” Today’s guidance package is a roadmap that states and local agencies can use to improve the quality of educational services for confined youth. Learn more

Students' Corner

Tools for Students

EARN SOME GREEN FOR BEING GREEN! The Green Schools Initiative and the Green Schools National Network are launching the 2nd Annual Nature's Voices Student Story Contest to tell the stories of young people creating a sustainable future. 

Students in grades 6-12 are invited to submit 500-1,000 word essays about how their green schools and environmental education experiences have inspired them, changed their thinking, or transformed their lives. Students can win a cash prize and paid trip to share their story as a keynote speaker at the Green Schools National Conference and Student Summit in March 2015. Stories may also be published on the website. Submit stories by January 16, 2015. Learn more.

SUBMIT A VIDEO TO THE WHITE HOUSE FILM FESTIVAL. Through January 20, 2015, submissions are open for the second White House Student Film Festival. This year’s theme is “The Impact of Giving Back.” U.S. students, grades K-12, are asked to tell a story about paying it forward, community service, or what making a difference looks like in their eyes and through their lens. It can be a fictional story or a short documentary. And, it can be quite short. In fact, films cannot be more than three minutes. The official selections will be featured on the White House’s website and shared across the world on official social media accounts. If selected, students may also have a chance to attend the film festival at the White House.

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• MAKING HOMEWORK MEANINGFUL FOR STUDENTS AND MANAGEABLE FOR TEACHERS. In this Edutopia blog, author and educator Ben Johnson debunks homework myths and helps teachers develop meaningful, manageable assignments.  

• ON RATING TEACHER PREPARATION PROGRAMS. The editorial board of the Washington Post recently published an editorial supporting ED's recent proposal for states to review and rate their teacher preparation programs. 

• OPPORTUNITIES FOR NATIVE YOUTH. The President and Vice President hosted the White House Tribal Nations Conference, devoting a significant part of the event to protecting Native youth and helping them succeed. During the conference, the Administration released a report detailing barriers Native youth face in school and in life. The President also announced a new initiative -- Generation Indigenous -- to provide new opportunities for Native youth (see fact sheet and view the President’s remarks).

Emerging Research


The Good Behavior Game

The study published in Educational Research examines the effects of using a classroom game to reinforce good behavior. The study, sponsored by the American Educational Research Association, found an immediate impact on challenging behaviors when classes played the game. Read the study (Flower, McKenna, Bunuan, Muething, and Ramon).

open book

Recommended Reading

HOW RURAL SCHOOLS PAID FOR STUDENTS' HOME INTERNET. This interesting blog on Mind/Shift (Katrina Schwartz) explores how some rural districts have progressed in their thinking about how technology can be used to transform their students' learning. Students had devices, but no way to access the Internet. At first, the schools tried to help students overcome technology barriers by downloading documents at school and helping them find places with free Internet. Learn what they did to change their own expectations and improve student learning.

MAKING DUMB GROUPS SMARTER. This article from the Harvard Business Review discusses why some group processes may exacerbate problems instead of solving them and offers specific suggestions to improve the process of group decision-making (Sunstein and Hastie).

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

group of teachers gathered for Teach to Lead Summit

Left: Teachers and supporters from the Teach to Lead Regional Leadership Summit held last weekend in Louisville, Ky.

Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. Reflecting on the value of teacher leadership: “You’re more likely to get it right if you involve teachers. You cannot run a school by yourself.” (Principal, Ind.)

4. "We must provide practical relief for teachers to be able to step into leadership." (Teacher, Mont.)

3. “Teacher Leadership doesn't just empower, it spreads joy." (Teacher at the Teach to Lead Regional Leadership Summit, Louisville, Ky.)

2. "We are sitting here not complaining (about the profession) but making solutions." (Teacher at the Teach to Lead Regional Leadership Summit, Louisville, Ky.)

1. "Teaching is the only profession where we ask people to give up what they love in order to be promoted. We work to change that." (Tweeted at the Teach to Lead Summit in Kentucky.)