This week, an anonymous blog post inaccurately classified our program and collaboration with Teach For America. While the educational research field benefits from reasonable disagreement on issues of policy and practice, no one benefits from inaccurate information and mischaracterizations. So, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the scope and rigor of our innovative programming.

Teach For America

In the worlds's biggest thank you card for teachers, our community comes together to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week by sharing their best moments and memories. See it below:

Students at PACE Early Childhood Education – Christian Fellowship site.

When we talk about improving outcomes for low-income and underrepresented students, we too often leave out the stories of our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities.

The truth is that many AAPI students live with the challenges of poverty, but are left out of conversations around educational equity because of the “model minority” stereotype driving the perception of universal success among AAPI students.

We’ve all heard it before: that all Asians are good at math, that they all go to college, even that they’re not really a minority. Any stereotype or assumption about a population is a problem, and this one in particular results in many students being overlooked and underserved. It ignores the unique challenges and assets of the various groups that make up this incredibly heterogeneous population, and effectively renders their needs invisible.

Teach For America is a committed partner in the broader movement to improve life outcomes for all students. I’m honored to announce the launch of our Asian American & Pacific Islander Initiative, which will build awareness of the academic and socioeconomic circumstances facing many AAPI students, highlight the community assets that can be leveraged to meet their needs, and strengthen the field of AAPI teachers serving as powerful role models.

Students at a Brazilian school are perfecting their English language skills with the help on an unlikely source: American grandparents. The successful language learning pilot program connects Brazilian students who are learning English with American elderly citizens for online chatting sessions.

For many, the road to the American Dream is paved with thousands of dollars of unforgiveable student loan debt. Renowned financial expert Suze Orman believes American banks engage in questionable student loan practices, which inherently undermine the value of a college education.

Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva Beard

Today, we’re reaching out with our gratitude to all teachers. Whether you’re in the corps, an alumnus, a colleague, or a friend, we’re honoring you this week. While we wish it didn’t take a designated week to remind the world to celebrate teachers, we’re nevertheless glad it’s happening!

We know there are days when it’s overwhelming—we know there are days when you leave school emotionally drained, intellectually spent, and physically exhausted. But we’ve also heard from so many of you about the days when you know you’re in the right field: the days when you know you’re making a difference, when you feel the great privilege of knowing the future leaders of this country.

Trevor Sprague

Sports were almost a rite of passage as I grew up. As a high school athlete, I learned skills like teamwork, time management, and how to handle failure. It never crossed my mind that other students might not have access to the same opportunities.

So you can imagine my surprise when I became a teacher and found out my school didn’t offer athletics. I felt my students were missing a key educational opportunity and I wanted to do something about it.

That’s when the robots came in.

After doing some research, I learned about FIRST Robotics, a program that brings thousands of high school students together from across the world to test their engineering, programming, and critical-thinking skills. The more I researched, the more I realized FIRST—with its rule of gracious professionalism—combined all the benefits of athletics while giving students skills to succeed in an increasingly technological society.

So with the help of two other members of our school’s science department and grants from JCPenny and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, Team 4780 was created with 12 student members.

Blair Mishleau portrait

So often, my students view poetry as something removed from their lives. It’s for old people in dusty books. As one of my students put it, “Mr. Mishleau, I’m not a poetry kind of guy.”

What they (and I) didn’t realize, was that some of the best poetry is in them, waiting to come out. Perhaps not in the traditional prose of the old, dead white people Language Arts curriculum tends to emphasize, but in a relevant, modern and uniquely sophisticated style all their own.

Earlier this year, I took a group of five kiddos from my middle school in Minneapolis to Chicago for three full days of writing and educational workshops, regional and national performances and opportunities to network and collaborate with students from across the nation.

Louder Than A Bomb, the youth spoken word competition, offers a unique space for students to cultivate and present their own stories.

(Photo: flickr)

I started a countdown.

One month, thirteen days, fourteen hours, 56 minutes, and 43 seconds until the last bell rings on the last day of school. Don’t judge me just yet. I started this countdown for a number of reasons:

To keep tabs on how long I have before my cash flow dries up (July and August are not fun when you are on that 10-month pay schedule!)

To find a summer internship or a permanent job (in case I decide to make year two my last in the classroom).

To assuage my frustration when I feel like my students and I are not on the same page, and, of course, to cherish their last months as high school juniors.

To be conscious of how much time I have to spend with my folks in the 2012 Miami-Dade corps before we go our separate ways.

Even this close to the end of the school year, I am still wavering about what to do next fall.

Annie O’Brien (Los Angeles ’09)

I’ve been around the education world – working as a teacher, a teacher mentor, and most recently, as a principal at Oak Park Preparatory Academy in Sacramento, California. No matter my school or title, I’ve seen one thing remain constant: teachers do not get the recognition they deserve. This needs to change, and the time is now.

Let’s join together this Teacher Appreciation Week (May 5-9, 2014) to celebrate all the incredible, hard-working teachers shaping our kids’ futures and preparing the next great minds to change the world. Wonderful teachers exist everywhere. From a dad teaching his son to tie his shoes, to a biology teacher setting up the day’s lab, to a weekend karate coach reviewing board breaking –take a moment to thank your #besteacherever.

Shout out your favorite educators using the hashtag #bestteacherever on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or this dedicated site. Teach For America will compile your messages to form the world’s biggest thank-you card to teachers.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight the hardworking and dedicated Oak Park staff, whom I have the honor and privilege to work alongside every day. You all touch many more lives than just the students you teach – you impact families and our community, and it goes without saying that I couldn’t do my job without you.

This graduation season, our nation celebrates a special milestone: more Americans are completing high school than ever before! The high school graduation rate has risen to 80% and is expected to reach 90% in the next five years. Experts say this increase is a result of gains among the nation's African American and Hispanic populations.

The rapid expansion of charter schools has led to increased tension between charter school supporters and opponents. Because some charter schools are housed in the same buildings as state public schools, opponents argue that charter schools unfairly impinge on the already limited resources and space of traditional schools.


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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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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. 

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