Annis Stubbs is the Executive Director of TFA-Detroit, site of the First Annual Alumni Awards and Educators Conference taking place on July 18, 2013 at Detroit’s famed Cobo Hall.The conference gathers alumni teachers, school leaders and school systems leaders from across the country for a day of networking and professional development. Travel stipends are available. Alumni educators: register today.
I love Detroit. No really—I mean LOVE this city in the way that one would a family member, a dear friend, a classroom of students. . .
The great deal of Detroit pride I have isn’t dampened by statistics (we’ll get to those in a second). I've never been discouraged by the "Dateline NBC" specials or national headlines that cast my hometown as a bastion of desolation with no hope. Instead, when I think about the Motor City I clearly see the beauty, the rich history, and the grit and determination of our people. It’s that grit that is coasting us to success, despite the challenges.
According to the recently released Diplomas Countspecial report, high school graduation rates have increased by more than 7% over the past decade—that’s good news.
But when you disaggregate the data to look at statewide trends the story is a lot murkier.
All students have the potential to be great students. I learned this firsthand when I was a corps member in the South Bronx teaching a classroom of 7th and 8th grade students that everybody had given up on. They were on 3rd and 4th grade reading levels and my job was to get them to pass a high-stakes test at the end of the year that determined whether or not they could go on to high school. My students and I set the goal at the beginning of the year that everyone was going to get there. . .and we did it.
Classrooms of intelligent, focused, hands-raised students can be made when people believe that they can really do it. Fueled by the recent reorganization of the state’s lowest performing schools, innovation in Detroit public schools, and a growing charter movement, change is coming to Detroit.
So there’s no more fitting place than my hometown to convene Teach For America’s alumni teachers, school leaders and school systems leaders for an inspiring day of sharing best practices, creating professional learning communities, and truly celebrating one another in this work.
Melissa Moritz is the managing director of Teach For America’s STEM Initiative. After graduating from MIT with a B.S. in Biology, Melissa joined the Teach For America corps as a middle school science teacher at MS 321 in New York City.
This week I’ll be travelling to Austin for US News’s 2013 STEM Solutions Summit. And I’ll be in great company. More than 2,000 leaders in education, policymaking, nonprofits, and the private sector are expected to gather to advance the most critical issues facing STEM in our country. From developing after-school science clubs to the fueling the tech workforce pipeline, everything will be discussed. I’ll have my ears perked for opportunities to engage others in meaningful dialogue around improving STEM education.
The issues of STEM education aren’t contained to individual schools or districts. They affect the entire country. When one corner of the US doesn’t offer excellent courses in science, math, engineering, and technology, an entire populace grows up without the skills necessary to fill high-tech jobs.
NASA's AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) satellite in clean room from Wikimedia Commons.
What does a laid-off teacher look like? Last Friday the School District of Philadelphia let go 3,783 employees including teachers, librarians, counselors, assistant principals and other staff. On May 31 the district's School Reform Commissions adopted a legally-required balanced budget that fell $304 million short of needed funding, hitting teachers and staff hard. The layoffs take effect on July 1, but students, parents and district employees are fighting an uphill battle to restore funding.
John Choi (Los Angeles ‘12) is one of four corps members sponsored by TFA Board Member John Legend and his Show Me Campaign. This post is the second in a series introducing these corps members.
John Choi teaches AP Biology to 9-12th grade students at Manual Arts High School. Everyone at the school—principal, administrators and students alike—talk about how special his approach to teaching is.
As the lead editor of Pass The Chalk’s editorial team, I’m personally very excited to share some news with you: We’re officially enabling comments on the blog, starting today.
We heard from many of you that you wanted the opportunity to add your voice. And as a blog that seeks to join the online conversation about education and spur dialogue about the issues of the day, we wanted to give all of our readers the chance to chime in with their thoughts, opinions, and ideas.
The purpose of this blog is to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on education issues and the broader social justice issues that impact our work as educators.
We encourage your comments; your ideas and concerns are important to ensure that more individuals are active and informed participants in the discussion about education inequity in America and across the world.
We observe the following ground rules when it comes to comments on the blog:
I’m sometimes puzzled when I hear policy-makers talk in broad terms about what it takes to build successful schools.
They cite factors like creating a culture of excellence, establishing high expectations, and holding teachers and students accountable. I don’t disagree; I have found all of these elements to be critical to successful learning environments. But in my relatively brief teaching career, I also have discovered that these abstract concepts alone do not produce strong schools. I find that good intentions get lost in the translation to good results when schools fail to effectively operationalize abstract concepts like excellence, high expectations, and accountability at the teacher-student level.
Below are a few excerpts from an impressive collection of college dreams, hopes, and plans that a group of kindergarteners shared with their teacher, Chelsea Massoud (Dallas-Ft. Worth Corps ’12). As the admissions officers at UCLA, Brown, Texas Tech, University of Southern California, Texas Christian University, Yale, and UC Berkeley will surely agree, it’s never too early to start writing your college essay.
“College is important to me because I want to be a scientist. I can be a hero when I am a scientist by saving the world from danger! I will learn to make the world a better place in college! I want to go to Yale because I want to be a scientist. Yale is one of the best colleges in the United States. I also like Yale because it looks like a castle. At Yale I will learn how to mix chemicals to make medicine for people and animals to keep them healthy.”—C.W.
How did you learn to read? For me, it was the combo of a serious Sesame Street addiction and a mother who tucked me in with a book every night (thanks, mom and Big Bird!). We each have different learning styles, but—as any Kid President will tell you—early childhood is a critical time to build the foundations of that learning. Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly, if you agree with the New York Times’Gail Collins), the U.S. hasn’t yet been able to make preschool available to every child.
We believe education is the most pressing issue facing our nation. On Pass the Chalk, we'll share our takes on the issues of the day, join the online conversation about education, and tell stories from classrooms, schools, and communities around the nation.
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The thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed on Pass the Chalk are the responsibility of individual bloggers. Unless explicitly stated, blog posts do not represent the views of Teach For America as an organization.