12 Feb Our Visit to the U.S. Department of Education
Dru Davison and I were invited to represent Hope Street Group to interview Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan about teacher evaluation. What an honor it was!
It was a whirlwind tour and in a matter of hours, we had met with Secretary Duncan, his chief of staff Joanne Weiss, and the Department’s Teacher Ambassador Fellows. I am still in a dream state about it. We first met with Joann Weiss and Sec. Arne Duncan where we spent an hour talking with them about the federal role in education. They talked to us about their experiences, answered our questions, and to our delight, listened to what we as teachers had to say about what we are seeing in our schools. We discussed the importance of including professional development as a vital component of a teacher’s evaluation and supporting the Arts as part of a well-rounded education. It was an experience that is truly memorable and inspirational.
To finish up our meeting at the Department, we met with the Washington DC Teacher Ambassador Fellows and learned what their daily work encompasses. Each fellow is assigned to work with a specific person and section within USDOE, such as communications, reading, technology, etc. The Teacher Ambassador Fellows are currently recruiting next year. This is where one can apply: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/teacherfellowship/applicant.html
Since my return to the real world, I have been able to speak to numerous people in my school district about the discussions we held. The most valuable part of this whole experience has been the ability to see firsthand that our policymakers care about what teachers have to say. They not only care about our input but they want our ideas and they want us involved in the implementation of new policies. Teachers as well as the administrators in Delaware have been so grateful to hear that their issues are being heard and that the federal government supports teachers in doing what they do best, helping their students achieve. I’m grateful that teacher voices are counted as important and essential in the policy process because as the professionals we are, we should have a place at that table.