Archive > November 2012

November 30, 2012

Five links that made us think this week:

Finland does it again. According to a new global report by Pearson,  Finland and South Korea are the leaders in education among developed countries. The U.S. ranked 17th, which doesn’t come as a surprise to education researchers, who claim “the study's findings echo years of rankings that show foreign students outpacing their American peers academically.” According to the report, countries like Chile, Latvia, Portugal and Germany are improving their education systems twice and three times faster than the U.S. 

Photo by Estormiz via WikiCommons

Stacey Mitchell
November 30, 2012

Stacey Mitchell is the Managing Director of Staff Diversity and Inclusiveness at Teach For America.

This month, Teach For America staff members gathered in Tulsa, Oklahoma to think more deeply about the role we can play to advance the agenda Native communities have set for themselves. Since that retreat, a quote from Jacob Tsotigh III, Program Administrator, University of Oklahoma Outreach, keeps ringing in my head: "We live in poverty, but we are not poor."

In 2010, Teach For America launched the Native Achievement Initiative to expand educational opportunities for Native children. To learn more, watch this video.

Mark Osborne
November 29, 2012

Mark Osborne taught in the 2009 D.C. corps.

Since I started on staff in 2009, by-in-large my identity has been that of a white gay male from a low-income background. As such, that was largely the perspective that was often solicited from me. However in my personal life, when I am asked to define myself I generally first, very proudly, identify as a Puerto Rican or as my cousins would jokingly call me, “ a blanquito Puerto Rican.”







Elisa Hoffman
November 28, 2012

Elisa taught in the 1996 Mississippi Delta corps.

When I pulled up to Fairview German School, parents who had been camping out front for over a week had just finished their morning routine of taking down their tents before the students arrived. In Cincinnati if your neighborhood school is failing—and many are—getting into a magnet school is largely on a first-come, first-served basis. That means parents camp out in the cold for days to try to secure for their kids one of a small number of spots in a more successful school.

Photo by Shannon Sherrard

Christina Torres
November 27, 2012

Christina Torres taught in the 2009 Los Angeles corps.

A recent study establishing a positive correlation between students who are popular in high school and the amount of money they make later in life feels like salt in a long-standing wound.  Aren’t we quiet warriors, the ones who occasionally preferred to spend Friday night with a book rather than at a party, supposed to be the ones who get the last laugh?

Susan Cain, in her TED talk “The Power of Introverts,” notes that throughout the 20th century, “we entered a new culture that historians call the culture of personality…we had evolved [from] an agricultural economy to a world of big business… so, quite understandably, qualities like magnetism and charisma suddenly come to seem really important.”

Photo by Pbcbible via WikiCommons

Michael Tipton
November 27, 2012

It pays to be popular. Literally.

In a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers found that a student’s popularity correlates to how much he or she makes later in life.

According to Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Derby, “Quantifying something that is as ephemeral as popularity is a tricky proposition for the researchers.”  Rather than measuring what a person may have thought about their popularity, the role of family income or other influencing factors, the study measures popularity by looking at social connections and the ability to form friendships.

Photo by Tulane Public Relations via WikiCommons

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge
November 26, 2012

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge is the Co-Founder & COO of Tioki and we’ve reblogged her reflection on her latest charge in full with her permission.

It’s been exactly one year since I dropped out of my UCLA Urban Schooling Doctoral Program to pursue my passion to build an edtech company that I hoped would both empower educators to showcase their unique skills and talents, as well as enable schools to find the best educators possible for their students.

I firmly believed that every single child deserves to have a great teacher, that every great teacher deserves the chance to exercise their passion of educating students, and that my team and I had the desire, talent, and drive to create the tool that would turn these beliefs into reality.

As my team and I have expanded our platform to include connectivity, knowledge-sharing, and discovery, I’ve often times received questions as to “Why?” Mandela, why are you doing this? Why are you going in this direction? Is this the right thing to do?

Photo courtesy of Mandela Schumacher-Hodge

Pass The Chalk Editors
November 21, 2012

Earlier this month, we asked our fellow Teach For America staff members to share some of the things for which they are most thankful this year (spoiler alert: A LOT). Here is what they said, presented from A to Z:

All people who believe that kids deserve an excellent education. Whether you’re inside or outside the Teach For America community, we’re thankful for your commitment to helping kids succeed. —Pass The Chalk Editors 

Best Friends. For encouraging us to always be our best selves, and loving and supporting us through the moments we fall short of that. —Kenie Huber, Video 

Board Members. We have one the BEST regional boards.  We would not be at the place we are today without their commitment and sacrifice on behalf of our kids in Milwaukee. #kidswin —Mitzi Keel, Milwaukee

Collaboration. I am thankful for the entire DFW regional team for constantly supporting each other and working together. Daily we push each other to be better and better. —Dakota Rubin, Dallas-Fort Worth

Community. My local Greenville, MS community; my regional Delta team; my TLD cohort; my national and alumni community. They all support, develop, and ground me. —Samantha Hoare, Greater Mississippi and Arkansas Delta

Challenges. Nothing that is worth having comes easily. —Melissa Curiale Galloway, Recruitment

Michael Metzger
November 21, 2012

Mike Metzger taught in the 2010 Phoenix corps.

Jon and I didn’t get off to a great start my first year at Agua Fria High School, just outside of Phoenix. When I asked students to share their career ambitions, Jon—then a junior—said “street pharmacist.” When the principal stepped in to observe me, Jon stood up and said, “This guy sucks. I can’t understand anything he’s talking about.” He called me Michelle, he stole my supplies, and at one point he convinced the entire class to walk out.

Each day, Jon seemed to defy Newton’s Law: For each of my actions, he shot back with a far more powerful reaction. I was tempted to let him work in the hallway every day.

Photo courtesy of Michael Metzger

Leila Graham
November 20, 2012

Today’s Pass The Chalk post features reflections on family from father and daughter corps members Leila (San Antonio '10) and Scott Graham (San Antonio '11) in honor of National Family Week.

Every three years or so, I find myself longing for a change of scenery. I’m certain this is due to all of the moves I made while growing up as a military brat.  My father served 25+ years in the Air Force which taught me the importance of service before self.  It also allowed me to live and travel all around the world. I cherish my experiences in all the places we lived and believe that they provided the absolute best environment for a child to learn.

Every time we relocated, my father would research the surrounding area to determine which school would provide the best education for me and my siblings. Sometimes my father would relocate us an hour away from his job, just so we could attend a quality school. The education I received allowed me to attend the college of my choice, which in turn gave me the opportunity to discover my love of teaching and learning.

Photo courtesy of Leila Graham. 


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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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