Jason Mangone and MacKenzie Moritz

From 1919 to 1953, November 11th was known as Armistice Day; so this week marks the sixtieth anniversary of what we now know as Veterans Day. When President Eisenhower issued a proclamation announcing the change to “Veterans Day” in October 1954, it was more than a nominal one: he called for a remembrance, but he also issued a challenge:

 “On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly....and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace...In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.”

So, Veterans Day is really about three things: it is about solemn remembrance for all of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines; it is about actively creating a world where peace might endure; and it is about common purpose as citizens.

Kevin Corrinet

When we practice behaviors which contribute to a healthy lifestyle, like exercising regularly and eating nutritious foods, we feel better. It isn’t rocket science – in fact, it’s pretty commonsensical.

From bringing a constructive mindset to a work meeting, to having more energy during family outings – being physically and mentally sound positively impacts multiple areas of our lives, and provides the foundation for achievement.

Unfortunately, too many of our students aren’t experiencing the benefits that come with being healthy in all aspects. Nearly one in three children in America is overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40 percent of children are overweight or obese. Low-income students are less likely to have recess and participate in organized sports, and are more likely to live in neighborhoods without physical activity resources like parks and bike paths – making them more vulnerable to be overweight or obese.

The classroom was in disarray. Sheets of paper overflowed from shelves. Spilled paint, glue, and glitter had conspired over the years to stain much of the carpet. The storage closet was in the worst condition of all: a  sea of art supplies littered the floor and walls, rendering it impossible to reach anything beyond arm’s length. Help was needed.

Pass The Chalk Editorial Team

As we honor the traditions and contributions of Native communities and leaders during Native Heritage Month, we encourage you to read a blog written by Teach For America’s Co-CEO, Matt Kramer. The blog discusses the continuing use of Native mascots and the way this practice undermines the heritage of thousands of American Indian students and the work of educators that promote academic success and cultural identity to ensure that all Native students have access to an excellent education.  Recently, the effort to eliminate these mascots started to gain fresh momentum, and it’s important that we stand together with others in calling for change.

Dr. Joseph Wilson and Kara DiGiacomo

Organizations from all sectors, teachers from all communities, and even politicians on both sides of the aisle agree that an excellent science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education opens doors of opportunity for all students. Great teachers give students the skills to be competitive in the STEM-sector jobs which will increase 17 percent in the next four years – but more importantly, they impart the passion to explore, discover, and create upon our next generation of leaders. The simple truth is that we need more great STEM teachers in our nation’s classrooms.

Teach For America and the Biogen Idec Foundation are committed to ensuring all students have access to high-quality STEM experiences. We are thrilled to announce a five-year collaboration to provide recruitment, training, and professional development opportunities to STEM corps members, as well as high-quality STEM educational opportunities for students in under-resourced communities.

I grew up in the early ’60s and was 6 years old when the Civil Rights Act was passed, opening up social and economic opportunities for persons of color. Despite this historic legislation, my parents, both enrolled members of the Oglala Lakota Nation, were born before American Indians were granted United States citizenship. My mom and dad each experienced the oppression, cruelty, and forced assimilation of government-run boarding schools, and this followed them well into the 1970s, when American Indians began to organize their collective voices as first Nations people.   

Today there was a piece in The Nation discussing an internal memo (you can see the full document here) about how we respond to factual inaccuracies in traditional and social media. Like most organizations we have a media response strategy, and in the interest of transparency, I want to share how we’re thinking about addressing the public feedback we get.

One strain of feedback comes from corps members, alumni, partners and critical friends who have ideas for how we can evolve and continue to get better. We know that listening to these voices will only result in a more effective program that better serves students both today and in the long run.  Based on their advice and what we’ve learned over time, we’re partnering more closely with communities and doing more to support corps members as they develop their conviction about all that’s possible for our public education system. These changes are described more fully in a recent letter that our co-CEOs sent to our alumni network, which you can read here.

A few years ago, well into my thirties, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. As we close out ADHD Awareness Month, I’ve been thinking a lot about this experience.

In some ways, this was not news. My memories of my own education primarily revolve around the ways I wasn't learning -- disrupting classes, skipping lectures, doing little homework and reading few books. I couldn't maintain focus on what a teacher was saying for more than a few minutes, and I couldn't read more than a few paragraphs at a time. Even the slightest distraction -- noise from a television a few rooms away -- would render me completely unable to concentrate.

Last week, we received a second letter from the group United Students Against Sweatshops via email. When the group reached out a few weeks ago to share concerns with our approach, we responded, including an invitation to meet for further discussion. Since these letters are being sent publicly, we’ve provided detailed corrections on the misinformation they include here, and wanted to share our latest email below.

Matt’s email response to USAS:

Dear Blake,

Thank you for your response to our letter. I am glad to hear that you’ll sit down with us. I would welcome you and your colleagues to our offices in New York if that would be convenient, but I am equally happy with another location if you’d prefer. While Elisa is out on maternity leave following the birth of her son, I’ll have to represent the both of us, and may bring a few of my colleagues who are directly involved in our work preparing and supporting teachers across the country, so that they can hear from you directly.  Some dates that could work in the next month are: 10/28, 10/29, 10/30, 11/11, 11/12, and 11/13. Given the role that Randi Weingarten and the AFT are playing in supporting your efforts, we’d also welcome her if you’d like to encourage her to join us. 

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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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