Category Archives: Teachers

California Throws Education Under the Bus

Written by: BlueDog89

California Gov. Jerry Brown recently proposed to cut more than $1 billion from higher education. Photo courtesy Associated Press.

Student activists and teachers unions in California are organizing statewide protests in opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to cut $1.4 billion from public colleges and universities.

Protesters at a demonstration at Modesto Junior College. Photo courtesy Turlock Journal.

California’s public education system is racked by threats of spending cuts due to the state’s fiscal crises, which include a deficit that has ballooned to more than $25 billion.

The California State University System is facing possible budget cuts of $500 million. The University of California would also face a $500 million cut under Brown’s budget proposal.

Brown has proposed cutting $400 million from the state’s community colleges, and raising tuition by 38 percent.

Modesto Junior College (MJC) administrators recently informed faculty members that jobs may be cut as the college attempts to shed $8 million from its budget.

MJC President Gaither Loewenstein answered questions about the budget cuts in a Q&A forum with students last week. He confirmed that the entire communications department, including majors in journalism, television and radio, would be cut in his budget reduction proposal.

Modesto Junior College President Gaither Loewensteinaddresses concerns over $8 million budget cut proposal. Photo courtesy Turlock Journal.

Other programs to end are culinary arts, communication graphics, architecture, engineering, industrial technology, dental assisting and all foreign languages, except Spanish and sign language.

The MJC West Campus library would close and be used as a learning resource center. Coach stipends would end, but competitive sports would continue.

Additional faculty and management employees would lose their jobs under Loewenstein’s budget proposal. Those layoffs would be effective June 30.
Reductions in salary or benefits for employees are not included in the proposal, which have yet to be negotiated.

Many students fear losing their favorite instructors, like anthropology professor James Todd. According to anthropology major and campus President of the Anthropology Club Priscilla Peralta, the department will be crippled with the layoff of Professor Todd. “Anthropology is a much needed discipline and should continue to be offered to the fullest extent,” said Peralta.

Loewenstein said that the decision to target specific programs rather than split the cuts across the board was intended to leave the college with fewer strong programs instead of making the entire college mediocre.

Californians need to step up, get involved with their schools, and reach out to school administrators and congressional representatives about this issue.

Ms. Peralta urges those who support her cause to send a personal message to Modesto Junior College President Gaither Loewenstein via email at loewensteing@mjc.edu.

In addition to getting personally involved with the schools in your community, education advocates encourage citizens to express their concerns to Gov. Brown. He may be reached via phone at 916.445.2841 or log on to his website to post a comment http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php.

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Behind the Scenes Video from the White House Science Fair

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Katelyn Sabochik

Last week, President Obama hosted the first ever White House Science Fair, bringing together middle school and high school students from around the country and their award winning science, engineering and technology projects.  The White House Science Fair was a part of the President’s Educate to Innovate initiative to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade.

Check out this behind the scenes video from the White House Science Fair, including Bill Nye the Science Guy and hosts of the show Mythbusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage.

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President Obama Meets With Students From the Documentary, “Waiting for Superman

Posted by: Audiegrl

Watch a behind-the-scenes video with President Obama and students from the film Waiting for Superman. Yesterday, the children, their families and others that worked on the movie met with President Obama in the Oval Office and watched him depart in helicopter Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks at the 2010 George Washington University Commencement

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

“Keep going. Keep giving. Keep engaging.”

First Lady Michelle Obama greets GWU graduate Zoe Petkanas, who won the school's student speaker competition, prior to giving the George Washington University commencement address on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. May 16, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

In the fall, the First Lady issued a challenge to George Washington University students, faculty, staff and trustees to perform 100,000 hours of community service, promising she’d speak at their graduation if they rose to it. They did and, as a woman of her word, Mrs. Obama delivered the commencement address to the Class of 2010 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

From digging neighbors out after “Snowmageddon” to restoring a local high school to running a clinic for those in need of medical aid to a host of global service projects – Mrs. Obama was impressed by what the George Washington University community did, but more, so how they did it. She asked that the graduates take on one more challenge:

So today, graduates, I have one more request to make of you, one more challenge, and that is: Keep going. Keep giving. Keep engaging.

I’m asking you to take what you’ve learned here and embrace the full responsibilities that a degree from an institution like GW gives you. I’m asking your generation to be America’s face to the world. It will make the world safer, it will make America stronger, and it will make you more competitive.

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The First Lady continued, encouraging global engagement through the story of a young woman that she met during her visit to Mexico last month who traveled to Vietnam to volunteer with children on a whim:

She described her days there as very “unfair” and “difficult.” She said there were days there “that [made] us feel meaningless.” But she also said there were days “…where I felt I could change the world.” And that trip made her realize she wanted to be a doctor. And when she returned to Mexico, she enrolled in medical school. But her journey led her to an important pivot point in her life. She said, and these are her words, “I realized that this is my country. This is where I belong and this is my culture, where I need to help.”

You see, that young woman, she went halfway around the world before she found her way home. And I suspect that something has — like that has happened to many of you.

And through Davina Durgana’s story, a young woman graduating that day, whose simple mission trip to El Salvador inspired her to take up the cause of human trafficking when she came back:

She found an internship that allowed her to work on an anti-human trafficking campaign, and she’s going to pursue graduate studies in human rights next year at the Sorbonne.

And by the way, Davina, she also serves as a Big Sister to a young girl in Anacostia; she volunteers with wounded warriors at Walter Reed; she helped run a Girl Scouts troop where she encouraged underprivileged girls to get involved; she volunteers as an EMT at the busiest fire department in the D.C. area, and convinced other classmates to join her –- and, somehow, she found time to graduate!

In closing, The First Lady touched on the historical significance of the commencement location as a landmark of change in this country:

In the end, the simple act of opening your mind and engaging abroad –- whether it’s in the heart of campus or in the most remote villages -– can change your definition of what’s possible.

And more importantly, you can change ours. See, after all, it’s your generation that always has –- often from the very Mall where we’re sitting right now. I mean, just look around you. It was on this Mall where young people marched for women’s rights. It was on this Mall where young people marched for civil rights. It was on this Mall where young people marched for peace, for equality, for awareness.

Decade after decade, young Americans who loved their country; and loved its ideals; who knew that it stood for something larger in the world; came here to this spot to wade into the rushing currents of history because they believed that they could change its course.

And on a cold January morning last year, many of you came here to wade in yourselves. It was the day my husband took the oath of office as President of the United States. And that day, he pledged to seek a new era of American engagement, and he asked each of us to embrace anew our duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world.

Now, I’m not a President. I’m just a citizen. But as a citizen, I’m asking you, as graduates of this global institution, to seize those responsibilities gladly. I’m asking you to fully embrace your role in the next vital chapter of our history. I’m asking you to play your part.

And from what I’ve seen from your class, I have no doubt that you will. Look, we believe in you so deeply. So, your new challenge begins now –- and it’s one that doesn’t end after 100,000 hours.

Students from George Washington University celebrate during their commencement ceremony on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., May 16, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Sadly, as hopeful a day as it was for the thousands of George Washington students, the commencement began with a moment of silence for student Taylor Hubbard who died tragically the day before.  Read George Washington University President Steven Knapp’s statement at the University website.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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President Obama Speaks at Hampton University Commencement

AP~President Barack Obama, addressing graduates at historically black Hampton University on Sunday, said that it is the responsibility of all Americans to offer every child the type of education that will make them competitive in an economy in which just a high school diploma is no longer enough.

Obama told the nearly 1,100 graduates assembled in the university’s sun-splashed Armstrong Stadium that they have the added responsibility of being role models and mentors in their communities.

Clad in a blue gown, Obama recalled the university’s humble beginning in September 1861 as a school for escaped slaves who sought asylum after fleeing nearby plantations in the Confederate South. Obama said the founders recognized that, with the right education, such barriers as inequality would not persist for long.

“They recognized, as Frederick Douglass once put it, that ‘education means emancipation.’ They recognized that education is how America and its people might fulfill our promise,” said Obama, the first black U.S. president.

Drawing parallels to current challenges, Obama noted that Hampton’s graduates are leaving school as the economy rebounds from its worst downturn since the 1930s, and with the U.S. at war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Obama said education can help them manage the uncertainties of a 21st century economy.

For much of the last century, a high school diploma “was a ticket to a solid middle-class life,” he said. But no more, as jobs today often require at least a bachelor’s degree – or higher. To that end, Obama is pouring tens of billions of dollars into K-12 and higher education with an eye on raising standards and building the future workforce.

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First Lady Michelle Obama to Speak at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 2010 Commencement

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama will be the keynote speaker for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s (UAPB) 2010 Spring Commencement exercise on Saturday, May 8 at 3 p.m. The university announced today that the event will be broadcast live on UAPB Channel 24 and streamed online via www.uapb.edu.

History of the University

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is a historically Black university located in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Founded in 1873, it is the oldest HBCU and the second oldest public institution in the state in Arkansas (after the University of Arkansas).

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, was founded in 1873 as the Branch Normal College; it was nominally part of the “normal” (education) department of Arkansas Industrial University, later the University of Arkansas, but was operated separately due to segregation. It later became a land-grant college under the 1890 amendments to Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, which required states which did not open their land-grant university to all races to establish a separate land-grant university for each race. The school severed its ties with the University of Arkansas and became Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal (AM&N) College in 1927; it moved to its current campus location in 1929. The school re-joined what is now the University of Arkansas System in 1972, this time as a full-fledged campus, gaining its current name and university status in the process.

Since 1988, the university has gained recognition as a leading research institution in aquaculture studies, offering the state’s only comprehensive program in this field, and supporting a growing regional industry throughout the Mid-South (according to the school, aquaculture is a $167 million industry in Arkansas alone and approximately $1.2 billion in the Mississippi Delta region).

The Examiner notes that,  this month, President Obama, the First Lady, and officials from throughout the Administration will deliver commencement addresses to Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the nation.  In total, eleven HBCUs will receive commencement addresses from Obama Administration officials this year.

Other officials participating in graduation ceremonies include Secretary Robert Gates, Department of Defense (Morehouse College)Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education (Xavier University), Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA (Huston-Tillotson University), Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President (Morgan State University)Melody Barnes, Director, White House Domestic Policy Council (Virginia Union University), and Ambassador Susan Rice, United Nations (Spellman College). In addition, John Wilson, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is scheduled to speak to Wilberforce University, Wiley College, and Harris-Stowe State University.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts the 20th Annual National Science Bowl

Posted by: Audiegrl
Posted by Secretary Steven Chu

New Faces, New Solutions

First Lady Michelle Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu with the winning teams, North Carolina School of Science and Mathmatics, left, and Albuquerque Academy, right, at the 20th Annual National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C. May 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama and I have the distinct pleasure of lending a hand at the National Science Bowl – an impressive display of the scientific talents of our young people.  Over the past few days, students from sixty-eight high school teams and thirty-seven middle school teams have competed for the championship titles by answering questions in a range of scientific disciplines, including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics and astronomy, and math.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu ask the championship round bonus point questions at the Department’s 20th Annual National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C. May 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

I have been going to Science Bowls for many years, and I always come away hopeful for America’s future.  I know the First Lady would agree that the knowledge and dedication of these students is inspiring. Read the First Lady’s remarks here.

Competitions like this one are important because America’s leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today.  We need a bold new generation of scientists and engineers to make America competitive in this century.  Only by having our best and brightest young people pursue careers in science and engineering can America compete for the high-wage, high-tech jobs of the 21st century.  We also face an unprecedented challenge to our very way of life from a changing climate, and we need this generation to help find new solutions to the energy and climate problem. In fact, all of the great challenges we will face in this century will require science and innovation to meet them.

Steven Chu is the Secretary of Energy

Students from Across the Country Prepare
for Regional Science Competitions


Students, coaches and parents takes photos of First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Science in Washington, D.C. May 3, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Arizona Ethnic Studies Classes Banned, Teachers With Accents Can No Longer Teach English…WTF?

Posted by: BuellBoy

HP~Arizona’s new immigration law is just about crime, its supporters say, but given that the state’s new education policy equates ethnic studies programs with high treason, they may not be using the commonly accepted definition of “crime.”

Under the ban, sent to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer by the state legislature Thursday, schools will lose state funding if they offer any courses that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

As ThinkProgress notes, the Tucson Unified School District’s popular Mexican-American studies department is the target here. The state superintendent charges that the program exhibits “ethnic chauvinism.”

Meanwhile, in a move that was more covert until the Wall Street Journal uncovered it, the Arizona Department of Education has told schools that teachers with “heavy” or “ungrammatical” accents are no longer allowed to teach English classes.

As outlined by the Journal, Arizona’s recent pattern of discriminatory education policies is ironic — and is likely a function of No Child Left Behind funding requirements — given that the state spent a decade recruiting teachers for whom English was a second language.

In the 1990s, Arizona hired hundreds of teachers whose first language was Spanish as part of a broad bilingual-education program. Many were recruited from Latin America.

Then in 2000, voters passed a ballot measure stipulating that instruction be offered only in English. Bilingual teachers who had been instructing in Spanish switched to English.

Teachers who don’t meet the new fluency standards have the option of taking classes to improve their English, the Journal reports, but if they fail to reach the state’s targets would be fired or reassigned.

Arizona Expands Its Discrimination: Teachers With Heavy Accents Can’t Teach English, Ethnic Studies Are Banned

ThinkProgress~Adding insult to injury, the Arizona legislature passed a bill yesterday outlawing ethnic studies programs:

HB 2281 would make it illegal for a school district to have any courses or classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity “instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

It also would ban classes that “promote resentment toward a race or class of people.”

The measure is directed at the Tuscon Unified School District’s popular Mexican-American studies department, which school officials say provides only “historical information” — not “ethnic chauvanism” as the state school superintendent has alleged. One state lawmaker tried to show how ridiculous the legislation is by proposing that schools be barred from teaching about 9/11 because it would result in hatred toward Arab-Americans; the measure failed.

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First Lady Michelle Obama to Host 20th Annual National Science Bowl

Posted by: Audiegrl

Students from Across the Country Prepare
for Regional Science Competitions


First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Department of Energy for the National Science Bowl competition in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

On May 4, 2010 First Lady Michelle Obama will join Energy Secretary Steven Chu for the Department’s 20th Annual National Science Bowl where she will ask the championship round bonus point questions. The First Lady and Secretary Chu will also address the more than 500 high school and middle school students and the 100 teachers and coaches attending the competition. Last November, Mrs. Obama visited the Department and joined Secretary Chu for a practice session for young people competing in the Science Bowl.

In the days prior to the championship, 105 regional high school and middle school championship teams from 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will participate in round robin and double elimination rounds in which they will be quizzed on math and all science disciplines, including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics and astronomy.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Science Bowl® is a nationwide academic competition that tests students’ knowledge in all areas of science. High school and middle school students are quizzed in a fast paced question-and-answer format similar to Jeopardy. Competing teams from diverse backgrounds are comprised of four students, one alternate, and a teacher who serves as an advisor and coach.

The Paul Dorman High School team at 2009 National Science Bowl

A featured event at the National Finals for middle school students, the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model Car Challenge invites students to design, build, and race model cars. This competition tests the creative engineering skills of many of the brightest math and science students in the nation as they gain hands-on experience in the automotive design process and with hydrogen fuel cell technology.

DOE launched its National Science Bowl competition in 1991 to encourage high school students to excel in science and math and to pursue careers in those fields. “This year we anticipate 6,000 middle school and 15,000 high school students will compete in regional competitions” said Sue Ellen Walbridge, DOE Office of Science program manager for the National Science Bowl®. “From this number, we anticipate 40 middle school and 69 high school teams will participate in the finals held in May.”

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The National Science Bowl is the only science competition in the United States sponsored by a federal agency.

For more information, please visit the DOE National Science Bowl® Press Room

First Lady Michelle Obama listens as Energy Secretary Steven Chu asks questions during the National Science Bowl competition at the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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President Obama Honors 2010 National Teacher of the Year

Posted by: WillieBeyond
Written by Sarah Brown Wessling

Is this where I pinch myself?

2010 National Teacher of the Year award recipient Sarah Brown Wessling (C) of Johnson Community School District in Iowa speaks as President Barack Obama (R), and Education Secretary Arne Duncan (L) listen during a Rose Garden ceremony April 29, 2010 at the White House in Washington, DC. Presenting the award has been a presidential tradition since Harry Truman. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)

Earlier today, I was honored to join President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and Dr. Biden in the Rose Garden of the White House to accept the National Teacher of the Year award.

I couldn’t be more overwhelmed and humbled by this honor. I was joined by the most remarkable assemblages of teachers – the 2010 State Teachers of the Year – I have known. Each is gifted and passionate about the work he or she does; yet, together we are galvanized in our shared vision of what teaching and learning can be. My family, my administrators, some of my own teachers and former students, along with many representatives from the State of Iowa were also in attendance. In front of us all is the collective responsibility to create hope and opportunity for every child in this country.

I think there is a misconception about this honor, that its purpose is to differentiates one teacher from another. Rather, this honor is about our similarities, about what unites us. It’s the deliberateness I share with Daniel, the design I share with Kate, the attention to students I share with Melissa, the pursuit of ideas I share with Ed – all of these teachers here and from home. It is about the purpose I share with each educator standing here today.

If you were to come into my classroom, the first thing you would notice is that my desk is in the back corner, despite the building design to make it otherwise. This placement is but an outward sign of an implicit philosophy, that teaching must be learner-centered.

“The desk in the back of the room” displaces hierarchies, creates an environment where a teacher becomes a lead learner, and evolves into a web of interdependence where the classroom walls become boundless. When we embrace this open-model of learning, the consumers of our curriculum will become designers of their own learning.

It is in these moments of learning that I fondly think of my students. I am here because my students couldn’t be. When we listen to them, their message is clear: Labria would say she deserves worthy learning experiences; Robert would want to be seen as an individual, not as a number or the score on an exam; Meredith would clamor for innovative curriculum; Jasmina would say she deserves passionate teachers. They all would say we need 21st century teachers, not just adults teaching in the 21st century.

Our dream for our students is the same dream we have for our own children, to be recognized for their strengths, to learn from their weaknesses and to be seen as a person of infinite potential.

We are facing tough times in education when it may be difficult to find what to hold onto, but each learner is a story. I see the world in stories and I believe it is these stories that will sustain and teach us. They will challenge and sometimes confuse us. But in the same way that I believe in the transformative power of language to unite us, I am certain that the stories of our students will sustain us.

The 2010 Teachers of the Year are here because our students couldn’t be, because their stories compel us to be here, because we couldn’t be anywhere else.

Sarah Brown Wessling is a high school English teacher at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa, and the recipient of this year’s National Teacher of the Year Award.

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