SEATTLE — One of the most remarkable things about today's news is how many important people are gathering at the Sheraton hotel here to listen to it. Last night, a crowd sharing drinks at the hotel bar included Chancellor Joel Klein, Chicago Superintendent Arne Duncan, Green Dot founder Steve Barr, and Obama education adviser Jon Schnur. The two often-mentioned choices to be Obama's education secretary, Klein and Duncan, sat next to each other. Schnur was a few bodies away, and across from them was Education Sector codirector Andrew Rotherham, who has been mentioned as a possible appointee to an Obama Education Department. Below the jump is a run-down of people I've spotted in Seattle since I got here last night. I'm putting stars (*) next to people who have been named as possible Obama education appointees, and please help me add to the list.
Bill Gates SEATTLE — The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is announcing a five-year plan to invest billions more dollars in a new set of educational programs that will substantially broaden the foundation’s efforts to improve American schools. The foundation had for the last eight years invested in building successful new high school models across the country, including a set of small schools in New York City. Now, the foundation is announcing that it will broaden its efforts to include active lobbying for policies such as national standards; massive investments in building data systems and research on K-12 education; and another set of investments to lure more high school students into attending college. Bill and Melinda Gates announced their new direction this morning to an audience of America’s top education officials gathered right now in Seattle, including at least four people short-listed to be the next Secretary of Education; at least three advisers to President-elect Barack Obama, and the current Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings.
Last week, we got a glimpse of Harlem students' reactions to Barack Obama's election, courtesy of a staffer at the school who dutifully wrote down what they said. Today, we can look inside a Bronx middle school, CIS 339, where 98% of students are black or Latino and 83% qualify for free and reduced lunch, via the students' own blogs. (Why do they have blogs? Read my Village Voice article on the school.) The students appear to have been asked to say which issue they hope Obama will focus on as president. Many answer education: "I think that he should really change the educations and schools of the kids and work really on making us wanna go to college," Carlos wrote. "Obama election means to me that he will build better school for us and put better teachers to teach us well," Alexis wrote, adding: "The issues i care about is education because i want a good education and i want a better job and a better collage." More excerpts from their blogs are after the jump. You can read their principal Jason Levy's description of post-election day at the school here.
Ms. T. will be guest-blogging every other week here at GothamSchools, sharing her experience of working in a Collaborative Team Teaching classroom. This is a year of firsts for me: my first year teaching in New York City, my first year in a Collaborative Team Teaching 5th grade classroom, my first year working to meet the New York State standards, my first year with so many major behavior issues in one classroom. I come from the Midwest with one year of 5th grade teaching experience under my belt. My experience with team teaching hasn’t always been the most pleasant and took place under the supervision of college professors during teacher interning semesters. Coming into the CTT classroom, I was a bit nervous to share my class with another teacher, whom I’d met only momentarily before we were hired for the job and with whom I only spent a couple days preparing for the start of the school year. Turns out, Ms. B, my team teaching partner, and I are a perfect match for a CTT room. We share similar theories for teaching and have similar views and feelings on our classroom environment and student learning. We also work especially hard to work together as a team, which means planning together and teaching together, something not as common in other CTT rooms in our school. Our class consists of nine general education students, with a wide variety of academic levels (some as low as our students with IEPs), and ten students with IEPs (some of whom we’re not even sure why they have IEPs, because we’ve yet to receive all their paperwork). Anyone who knows the intended mix of a CTT classroom will see that the ratio is a bit off.
Hundreds of New York City parents are writing directly to President-elect Obama with their opposition to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein as a Secretary of Education pick. Organized by the Public School Parent Advocacy Committee, the parents are hoping to balance out the spate of positive media attention the chancellor has enjoyed in recent days. Today, for example, the New York Times noted as the only downside of Klein's prospective participation on Obama's "new team" his bitter relationship with Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers. PSPAC, a consortium of PTA political advocacy committees, plans to deliver a letter to the Obama's transition team that calls on the president-elect to choose an education secretary who has "deep practical experience in teaching and learning." As a businessman, Klein has "disastrously neglected the fundamental needs of children," the letter says. Ann Kjellberg, a leading PSPAC member, told me she's gotten about 100 signatures since Friday, when she first released the letter. Other parents are now circulating the letter by e-mail as well, she said. "I do seem to be getting some people new to this," Kjellberg said. "A few have told me their stories of frustrations with the DOE that drive them to question a Klein nomination." PSPAC's entire letter is after the jump.