Saturday, February 28, 2004

Just Going Through My Inbox...

Got an extra $5000 lying around? Already thinking about next year's tax breaks?

You could sponsor a Teach For America teacher. (Or you could send the money directly to me, but there won't be any tax breaks... sorry).

Here is a description of how the program blossomed in NYC this year, straight from the TFA Newsletter:

As part of the campaign, sponsors contribute $5,000 toward the cost of recruiting, training, and providing ongoing support for one Teach For America corps member teaching in New York City. In addition, sponsors are invited to develop relationships with sponsored corps members, and to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing students in some of our city's most under-resourced schools.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors, Teach For America was able to place close to 350 new teachers in New York City public schools this year, bringing the total number of corps members here to nearly 500. As a result, Teach For America corps members are now teaching in 120 of the city's hardest-to-staff schools across the Bronx, Harlem, and Washington Heights (up from 80 the year prior), reaching more than 45,000 students.

Corps members have offered sponsors a glimpse into their worlds, including both the challenges facing their students, and the tremendous potential their students have demonstrated. Sponsors have provided corps members a family away from home, home-cooked meals, and badly needed classroom resources.

And here's an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer describing some of the pros & cons of Teach For America.


Teachers Count(!) is, well, here's how they describe themselves:

TeachersCount is a national, independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization for educators. Our goal is to recognize and reward the people who use their skills to motivate and empower our children. TeachersCount seeks to improve the quality of life for our teachers and to repay them for their dedication.

To achieve this goal, we offer teachers services that are tailored to the teaching profession, including a website and a discount purchase program through our subsidiary TeachersDisCount, which offers membership at no cost for teachers.

In addition, TeachersCount has partnered with Time Inc., to create an initiative that raises national awareness about the teaching profession, leading to improvements in retention, recruitment and compensation of teachers.

They seem to have lots of good links; I will be exploring their grant listings. And they are putting together a discount program for teachers to save money at stores from Barnes and Noble to Kinkos and more.


This one's for you, Chett!

The National Center for Educational Accountability and bring you the Best Practices of High-Performing School Systems. Too bad their interface is so... complicated. It seems that they have links to studies at the national and state level of best practices, a series of quizzes you can take to assess where your classroom, school, or district stands in regard to best practices, and, probably, more. (Maybe someone can help me figure out how to get to the meat of this website?).


More than Super Tuesday...

March 2nd is also Read Across America Day, scheduled to coincide with what would be the 100th birthday of much-beloved Dr. Seuss. Brought to you by everyone's favorite terrorist organization.


Pros & Cons of NCLB "Success"

Time Magazine wrote what I see as a fairly balanced article on one school's success in raising test scores high enough to get off the "failing schools" list. Clearly, Garfield/Franklin Elementary (in Iowa) had some serious problems that were not getting addressed before NCLB served a wake-up call:
  • a widespread attitude of accepting poor performance, especially from Hispanic children and children from low-income families

  • a math curriculum with a lot of gaps which no one had noticed

  • a lack of attention to the art & science of teaching reading effectively

  • a lack of attention to absences and no-shows

Finding themselves on the NCLB list of failing schools, Garfield/Franklin came together to address these issues, and made immense progress.

While proud of their accomplishments, teachers at Garfield/Franklin feel they - and their students - have lost other important things:
  • time in the curriculum for creative writing (resulting in a decline in writing skills overall)

  • social studies, including geography and civics

  • teacher autonomy

  • field trips

  • two recesses per day (don't dismiss the importance of giving children time for play and for everything they've learned to consolidate)

I hope that the sense of teamwork, attention to detail, and pride that this school (seems to have) gained can be used to address the problems that teachers have identified. Garfield/Franklin would be an example for us all if they could find ways to maintain their gains while bringing back the things they miss.


"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself."
--Henry Ward Beecher


Chattanooga Experiments with Incentives

Here's the website of the Community Education Alliance, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, which offers a variety of incentives for teachers identified as "high-performing" to transfer to high-need schools. Incentives include $5000 bonuses, $10,000 home loans, help paying for a master's degree, and much more.


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