California: Laurie Stowell described a New Free App for California schools that shares school data with parents, students, and the community.
Florida: Margaret Gardineer examines Florida’s Request for Waivers from ESSA with regard to assessment and placement of ELL students. Margaret notes that Florida had sought a similar waiver in 2014, prompting Margaret to conclude, “Florida’s current waiver request appears to be part of a policy pattern to extend its flexibility in assessing and implementing entitlements for its significant ELL student population.”
Is there a better way to kick off the week than by spending time with pre-service teachers?The NCTE team (Jenna Fournel, Lu Ann McNabb and Felice Kaufmann) and I took a field trip to Capital City Public Charter School where Inspired Teaching hosts a summer program. Inspired Teaching is a “professional learning community of master teachers and teacher residents that ensures that a diverse group of students achieves their potential as accomplished learners, thoughtful citizens, and imaginative and inquisitive problem solvers through a demanding, inquiry-based curriculum.”
Seated in a circle, teachers were doing an exercise that examined the different roles that students tend to play in the classroom, e.g., mean girl, class clown, etc. After the discussion, teachers used chart paper to write down both positives and negatives of each of the roles. Then we divided into teams and brainstormed ways to break students of these roles.I loved the insightfulness of the group, one teacher remarked that students can “go invisible” in some roles. Another pointed out these roles teach students that they as a person are static, and not dynamic. When chatting with Mara Duquette, Senior Manager, Strategic Engagement, she talked about the importance of these experiences- by saying, “We teach them to discover who I am as a learner, because I need to know that before I can become a teacher.”
I had no idea that the US Department of Education had an International Affairs Office. Since I am a Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow (see P&O below for more details), I was eager to learn more. Maureen McLaughlin, who is a senior advisor to Secretary DeVos and the Director of International Affairs, was gracious enough to meet with me to talk global education. She shared with me the department’s strategy, created under Arne Duncan, to succeed globally through international education and engagement. They have three objectives: increase global competencies, learn from other countries, and engage in education diplomacy. Recently, Maureen was on a team that created a Framework for Developing Global and Cultural Competencies to Advance Equity, Excellence and Economic Competence. This is a great tool for those looking to start embedding global competencies in their curriculum.
Midweek I met with both of my California senators’ offices. Small world: Brett Rosenberg, the legislative aide in Senator Kamala Harris’s office, actually received an NCTE Achievement Award in Writing when she was in high school. I shared with Brett NCTE’s policy recommendations, and she shared with me the senator’s education passions (DACA, combating sexual assault on campus, gainful employment). At Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office I met with education legislative aide Crystal Martinez. She anticipates the Senate will preserve Title I funding at equal or increased levels, and that Title II and LEARN will be preserved in some fashion. That was good news! Check out last week’s post for a refresher on ESSA funding. Senator Feinstein’s interests are access to high-quality education for all students, ensuring California receives its due share of federal funding, and accountability and transparency for all schools.
I Really Love Global Education
Friday brought me to the Department of State for the Annual Global Teaching Dialogue to continue my learning on global education. As a Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow, it was exciting to hear all the phenomenal work that both the TGC and Fulbright Fellows are doing in their schools with global education. Mark Taplin, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, opened the dialogue, pointing out that investing in teachers is critical to our nation’s future. Andy Rabens, the special advisor for global youth issues, wrapped up the evening by talking about the three areas of focus for youth issues: youth and economic opportunity (jobs of the future), youth and the political process (getting them involved, young women especially) and youth and violent extremism (understanding how and why youth are vulnerable). There is a great video he did on the Global Youth Issues website which can tell you more about why young people matter. I think I’ll use this video in my classroom to kick off the year to show my kids why they are important.
P&O (People and Opportunities) There were a lot this week, so I’ll keep this list to stuff I didn’t mention above.
Celeste Rodriguez, Teacher Liaison, Department of Education: Lu Ann and I had lunch with Celeste. Taco truck lunch, sitting outside, chatting teacher leadership – what more can a gal ask for? Just because there has been a change in administration, it doesn’t mean the department isn’t listening. Celeste is working hard, continuing to incorporate teacher voice at all levels. Big shout out to her and all she does for teachers and students.
Felice Kaufmann, Publications Developer, NCTE: Felice, based at the NCTE office in Urbana, Illinois, was in DC this week. I was lucky enough to spend time with her and get to know her a bit. You can check out our membership magazine,The Council Chronicle, which Felice manages, and also follow her on Twitter.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, CHCI: I ran into this group while I was waiting in Senator Harris’s office. I encourage you to check out this program, which “places Latino youth on a new trajectory by inspiring high school and college completion, and then providing programs to explore public policy and leadership in our nation’s capital.” The group of kids I saw were giddy after meeting the senator, and I loved seeing students so inspired by our government.
Teachers for Global Classrooms: This is a great program for teachers to start or continue their global education journey. It consists of a graduate-level 10-week online course on global education, a symposium in DC, and it culminates in a 2-3 week study abroad. I am looking forward to doing my travel piece this spring!
This week kicked off with Senate meetings. We met with staffers from both Republican and Democratic offices to urge the Senate not to eliminate Title II funds (so you can still have access to professional development) and to protect the $189 million for LEARN (intervention support). Both sides were sympathetic to our concerns, but it’s clear that they are contending with budget cuts. There is a cap on non defense discretionary spending, and it has seen a significant drop. Staffers from both sides of the aisle said that if we want to protect these funds, then raising the cap is essential. What does that mean? At its essence, it is akin to giving me a budget of $20 to feed my family of four each month. It’s just not possible, and certainly not healthy. Food is a critical part of life. I need to raise the cap on my budget in order to prevent my kids from starving. The same goes for Title II and LEARN, two programs critical to quality education. We should not be forced to cut these necessary programs. NCTE issued a press release later in the week expressing deep concern about these proposed cuts in the House appropriations bill.
On Tuesday I went with NCTE’s Lu Ann McNabb to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on ESSA state plans. The Democrats were vocal about the lack of representation from the Department of Education, and wondered when Secretary DeVos would appear before the committee. The Republicans voiced concerns about the department’s recent feedback on state plans and felt it was overreaching. Chairwoman Foxx was clear in stating that the committee will watch to make sure DC “keeps its distance” in regards to ESSA implementation.
Wednesday I was invited by rock star teacher leader Anna Baldwin to attend the Convening on Systems of Support for Excellent Teaching and Leading at the US Department of Education. The Ambassador Fellows worked this year to create a framework that “allows states, districts, and schools to assess the alignment of their systems of support for teachers and leaders to a set of core principles.” Participants spent the day collaborating and providing feedback on the framework. Keep an eye out for the release of this tool. I know I am looking forward to sharing with my administration and strategizing ways we can improve our professional learning. Jason Botel, acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, offered closing remarks. He stated that he sees ESSA as an opportunity to tailor education programs to the students. He also recognized that the work is hard, and teaching is hard. I couldn’t agree more!
At the end of the week I was able to spend some time with my ASCDTeach to Lead team at L2L. This past year, Meghan Everette led a team which consisted of myself, Danielle Brown, Jason Flom, Kenny McKee and David Griffith to determine how educators view their role in advocacy and what can be done to better support potential advocates. The results of this research can be found at the Hurdles and Hopes website. The purpose of the L2L session was to engage with the results of the study. We discussed advocacy barriers and ideas for removing those barriers. I particularly enjoyed crowd-sourcing ideas for professional development modules around advocacy. The room was full of leaders who had strong ideas on how to improve educator advocacy.
P&O (People and Opportunities)
Meghan Everette: If only there were words. Meghan is a Hope Street Group alum, ASCD Influence Leader, co-creator of the #EdAdvBecause chat, and an ASCD Emerging Leader class of 2014. She is also a Scholastic blogger (so check that out) and all-around super mom and amazing human.
Jennifer Briones: I met Jen when she worked for Hope Street Group. Now she is a Policy and Advocacy Associate for Data Quality Campaign. She was kind enough to help me with my research project while I am here.
Angela Brizuela and the Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institutes: Teaching with Primary Sources: Angela is a STEM teacher at my school, El Rodeo Elementary. She was in town for the week at the Library of Congress for a teacher institute (check out the site, they have other options that cover all teachers.) This particular institute gathered a consortium of educational partners in an effort to develop curriculum using primary sources from the Library of Congress. Angela had high praise for the event: “I found the institute to be enriching in that I was able to develop science curriculum that was interdisciplinary and encourages critical thinking which is vital to developing responsible citizens.”
This post is written by the 2017 NCTE Kent Williamson Policy Fellow Lauren Stuart. This will be the first of a weekly series.
Greetings from Washington, DC.! I thought I would start by introducing myself. My name is Lauren Stuart and I teach 8th- (and soon 6th-) grade ELA for the Beverly Hills Unified School District.
I am honored to be this year’s Kent B. Williamson Fellow. What does that mean? As a way to honor Kent Williamson’s dedication to teacher leadership, NCTE established this fellowship, which allows a member to come to DC and be immersed in education policy. Each week during my stay, I will share my experiences with you. Also, you can follow me along daily on Twitter @laurenpstuart.
The week began with a training from the McKeon Group on both education policy and NCTE’s priorities. I was reminded that the actual policymaking process is nothing like the textbook version.
As a member, you should know that NCTE is asking Congress to support ESSA’s Title I, $190 million for LEARN, and student grant and loan programs. NCTE is also asking Congress not to eliminate Title II funds. If you would like to contact your representatives to discuss these priorities, let me know and I will help you make contact with them. You can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My second day brought me together with our esteemed Executive Director, Emily Kirkpatrick, as well. We traveled together to sit in on the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Summer Legislative Institute. NCSS and NCTE share the same concerns! Our colleagues have proven that social studies is relevant, needed, and wanted by our students, and yet they must constantly convince decision makers to fund their programs. Participants visited their legislators, and most had positive responses. If you know a social studies teacher who would like to get involved, encourage them to join NCSS and attend the NCSS annual convention this year.
I was also able to attend School Vouchers and Segregation, an event at the American Federation of Teachers headquarters. The Center for American Progress released a paper on this topic, and brought together a panel for discussion. Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) opened the session by stating that research shows that vouchers negatively affect student achievement. He urged the government to support public schools and not divert funds to private schools.
Justin Reid from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities told the story of Prince Edward County, and how their students came to be a part of the class action lawsuit that became Brown v. Board of Education. What I did not know was that because of the verdict, the Board of Supervisors decided to shut down the schools for five years instead of integrating. Kids went five years without an education. In addition, white students were given tuition grants to attend private schools, which led to segregated schools.
Also in attendance at this event was Catherine Lhamon, the Chair of the Commission on Civil Rights. She called for a promise from the federal government to ensure simple justice and civil rights for all students.
People and Opportunities to Watch
This section will highlight people I met while in town, as well as opportunities I come across.
Jill is a fellow Hope Street Group alum hailing from Colorado Springs. She was in town for the Bill of Rights Institute, Founder’s Fellowship. “It was a week of incredibly rich discussion based upon primary source documents in history. I rarely get professional development that is content based so the week with the BRI was so valuable to improving my instruction in US History.”
Doug is a science teacher from Maine who is here on a yearlong fellowship.
Luella is a fellow Californian, who was here for the NCSS SLI. I loved chatting with her about her interest in Native American studies and being a studio teacher.
Lauren Pfeffer Stuart is an 8th grade ELA teacher for the Beverly Hills Unified School District. She is a Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow and a Teach Plus California Fellow. She has two young boys and lives in Sherman Oaks.
Time and again, studies have shown evidence of increases in student achievement in classes taught by teachers who have made it through the rigorous National Board certification process when compared with non-certified peers. My personal experience with this process was that it was less about showcasing my existing teaching talent and more about becoming a much more reflective teacher. Working through the process of earning my National Board certificate made me more intentional about how I thought about my students as learners and how I planned and conducted lessons. As a result, my teaching became more engaging and student centered, and I saw positive results in student and parent feedback, grades, test scores, and Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) data.
To encourage teachers to achieve certification, North Carolina began awarding scholarships to pay for the process in the early 1990s. When I applied for a National Board certificate in 2006 as a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher, I was responsible for only the $65 registration fee–not the daunting $2,500 cost of certification. Many other teachers in North Carolina took advantage of this opportunity as well, pushing our state to number one in national rankings, where it remains today despite recent decreases.
The recent decline of National Board certification rates in our state came with the economic crash of 2008. To cut costs, the 2009 General Assembly converted the scholarship to a loan, effectively ending significant financial support for teachers pursuing certification. Around the same time, teacher salaries were frozen. As a consequence, the number of teachers earning National Board certificates fell 85 percent over the next three years. NBPTS has worked to better accommodate teachers by reducing the cost of certification to $1,900 and allowing teachers to work toward certification over three years rather than completing it in one year. (This new process began in school year 2014–2015, so it’s too early to say what the impact will be on long-term certification numbers. The National Board reports there are currently more than 13,000 candidates working through the new three-year process.)
The Every Student Succeeds Act–which passed last year–offers a glimmer of hope to North Carolina teachers who would like to earn their National Board certificate but simply cannot afford to do so. The law requires schools to “increase the number of teachers . . . who are effective in improving student academic achievement” and provides $2.5 billion in Title II funds to make that happen. Ninety-five percent of these funds are going to school districts, along with unprecedented flexibility in determining how to use those funds. National Board Director of Government Relations Seth Gerson says ESSA will allow states and districts to “invest in building a continuum of teaching excellence including support for teachers pursuing Board certification.”
This fall, local education agencies across our state are forming committees to collect feedback from all stakeholders on what changes they’d like to see made in North Carolina under ESSA. The timeline requires states to present their completed plans to the Department of Education in February of 2017. Teachers who are interested in speaking their minds on how National Board certification is supported in their districts have a very narrow window in which to do so.
ESSA presents a unique opportunity for teachers’ voices to be heard on the future of professional development. If a portion of Title II funds at the district level were invested in making National Board certification more viable for our teachers, the disturbing trend away from teachers engaging in this valuable process could begin to change.
Justin Parmenter began his teaching career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Albania, later teaching in Istanbul Turkey and on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in eastern Arizona. He currently teaches 7th grade Language Arts at Waddell Language Academy in Charlotte, NC and is a North Carolina Teacher Voice Network Fellow with the Hope Street Group. You can reach him on Twitter at @justinparmenter