National Writing Project

Teachers Voice Their Ideas in Meeting with Duncan

Date: May 25, 2010

Summary: Twelve teachers—including Writing Project teachers—from a Facebook Group called "Teachers' Letters to Obama," discussed their education concerns with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and blogged about the meeting afterward.


A group of 12 teachers from the Facebook Group called Teachers' Letters to Obama got a 30-minute meeting to discuss their concerns with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about the department's blueprint for revising the Elementary and Secondary Education Act .

The group wanted to offer the experiences of respected teachers who have a wealth of knowledge from teaching "every kind of student you can find in the country," wrote Anthony Cody, a teacher-consultant with the Bay Area Writing Project, in his blog Living in Dialogue on Teacher Magazine's website.

"We polled the 2,000 members of Teachers' Letters to Obama and got more than 270 teachers to take time to share their ideas of what we should say."

While the group appreciated the meeting, unfortunately only four of the teachers got time to speak, and those who did speak struggled with a poor phone connection, according to Cody.

Despite that, Cody reported, Mary Tedrow, co-director of the Northern Virginia Writing Project, "spoke eloquently for the need to invest in teachers' professional growth through rich programs such as the National Writing Project and National Board certification."

Tedrow said, "Both of these programs [the National Writing Project and National Board Certification], with proven, positive results for student achievement, were initiated, designed, and are currently sustained by classroom practitioners, all prior to endorsement by national programs. Given the latitude to design and implement reform, teachers can affect real change. Yet some of these same programs are slated for Federal funding cuts. This sends a very mixed message: our goal is continuous improvement of instruction, but we're unwilling to pay for it."

Next Steps: Reform That Must Involve Teachers

The group hopes that this call will open up further dialogue.

"I admit that I will be disappointed if this does not bloom into something other than this call," wrote Heather Wolpert-Gawron, a Writing Project fellow at the UC Irvine Writing Project, on her blog TweenTeacher . "After all, we are bringing them a platter of topics and possible solutions, but this is by no means a buffet of procedures. Sure we can list solutions, but for true change to take place, we must scaffold reform. Reform is a step-by-step process and one that teachers must be a part of."

Read Blog Coverage of the Meeting

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