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TEACHING IN AMERICA – PART 1: An Introduction to the U.S. Educational System STARTALK Guest Teacher Summer Institute July 24-25, 2012


Ryan Wertz • Current World Languages Educational Consultant at the Ohio Department of Education (6 years) • Former Elementary, Middle and High School Spanish Teacher in Urban and Suburban Districts (10 years) • Former Volunteer Teacher in The Philippines, Panama and Costa Rica (7 years) • Visiting International Teacher Trainer (6 years)


Part 1 Objectives 1. Activate prior knowledge of the U.S. educational system. 2. Gain general understanding of the U.S. educational system through comparison with the Chinese system. 3. Gain specific understanding about the major components of the U.S. educational system. 4. Understand what is meant by the term “local control� in relation to education in the U.S. 5. Learn about the role of parents in the U.S. educational context.


KWL Small Group Brainstorming Activity “What do I know about the Education System and Schools in the United States?” KWL Chart Topic: Education in the United States of America K What I Know

W What I Want to Learn

L What I Have Learned


The Chinese Educational System National Government (Ministry of Education) Provincial & Autonomous Region Governments (Ministry of Education) Local Government (Schools)


The U.S. Educational System Federal Government (U.S. Department of Education)

State Government (State Departments of Education)

Local Government (Local Boards of Education)


Federal Government U.S. Department of Education (US ED) • There is no centralized, governmental control of education in the U.S. • The U.S. Constitution doesn’t mention education, which gives the responsibility for public education to the states. • The majority of the states have given responsibility to local education governing boards. Thus, the U.S. has many school systems differing widely in organization, financial resources, and effectiveness. • Mission of the U.S. ED: To promote educational excellence for all Americans. • The U.S. ED creates programs which channel limited federal funding to various educational initiatives.


Federal Government Elementary and Secondary Education Act • Federal education policy first enacted April 11, 1965, and currently up for renewal. • Called “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) during Bush presidency. • Funds primary and secondary education initiatives. • Addresses the achievement gap between different socio-economic groups. • Provides funds for – – – – – –

Increased focus on reading; flexibility in school choice; professional development; instructional materials; resources to support educational programs; and promoting the involvement of parents.


Race to the Top (RttT) Program • A $4.35 billion US ED grant supported by President Obama. • Designed to support reforms in K-12 education such as: – performance-based standards; – performance reviews for teachers and principals based on student academic growth and other measures; – measures that close achievement gaps; – improved high school graduation rates; and – increased college enrollment rates. • Ten states received 3-year federal RttT grants to enact reforms: • DE, DC, FL, GA, HI, MD, MA, NY, NC, OH, RI, TN


State Government •

State government has a much greater role in overseeing education than the federal government – but a lesser role than local government entities. State government involvement in PreK-12 education is divided between three entities: 1. State Legislatures 2. State Boards of Education (SBOE) 3. State Education Agencies (SEA)


State Government 1. Legislature • The legislature considers and passes education laws that are promoted by the governor or by legislators via the education committees of the House of Representatives and/or the Senate. • The laws together are called Revised Code or Education Law, depending on the state. • Recently, the ability of state governors to influence education legislation has greatly expanded.


State Government 2. State Boards of Education • State Boards of Education determine education policies for public elementary and secondary (PreK-12) education. • The policies of the State Board ensure that educational laws passed by the state legislatures are carried out. • The State Board studies the educational needs of the state and adopts plans for the improvement of the PreK-12 school system that are responsive to the needs of voters. • Members of the State Board of Education are elected by the public and/or appointed by the governor of the state.


The State Board of Education of the State of West Virginia


State Government State Board of Education Members of Ohio

Tess Elshoff New Knoxville At-large

Ann E. Jacobs Lima District 1

Kathleen A. McGervey Avon District 2

Bryan C. Williams Fairlawn District 7

Deborah Cain Uniontown District 8

Joseph L. Farmer Baltimore At-large

Dannie Greene Gallipolis At-large

Jeffrey J. Mims, Jr. Dayton District 3

Debe Terhar Cincinnati District 4 (President)

Robin C. Hovis Millersburg District 5

Michael L. Collins Westerville District 9

Jeff Hardin Milford District 10

Mary Rose Oakar Cleveland District 11

Thomas W. Gunlock Centerville At-large (Vice President)

C. Todd Jones New Albany At-large

Dennis Reardon Pickerington At-large

Kristen E. McKinley Columbus District 6

Angela Thi Bennett East Cleveland At-large

Dennis Shelton Delaware At-large


State Government 2. State Departments of Education • Establish academic content standards in the different subjects that are taught which set expectations for what all students should know & be able to do. • Make sure through licensure and other means that educators have the skills, knowledge, and resources to help students reach higher levels of achievement. • Measure and publicize student academic results on standardized state-wide assessments and hold all educators and students responsible for them.

• Establish and enforce the criteria that students must meet to graduate from high school.


Local Government

Local School District Boards of Education • Most states are divided into local public school districts. For example, the highly populated state of Ohio has 614 public school districts; the less populated state of Utah has 41 public school districts. • Public school districts are usually composed of elementary, middle and high schools. • Most public school districts are administered at the local level by a Local Board of Education made up of elected members of the community who are generally not educators. School boards: – Set local educational policies within the limits of state and federal law and determine the curriculum; – Adopt a budget and authorize operating and capital expenses; – Are responsible for meeting federal guidelines in their schools; & – Approve the hiring of teachers and other employees.


Local Government Local School District Board of Education Meeting


Local Government Local School District Board of Education Meeting


Parent Participation in U.S. Schools Parents actively participate in their kids’ education by: • • • • • •

• • • • •

volunteering in the classroom, school office or other area; voting on school board candidates in periodic local elections; attending school board meetings & voicing their opinions; running for and serving on the local school board; calling or writing elected officials to express their opinions; calling, writing or meeting with the school principal or their kids’ teachers to express their opinions and concerns; attending periodic parent-teacher conferences; participating on the school PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) or PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization); serving on school committees; volunteering on the local “booster” organization (athletic, band or other extracurricular activity); and/or helping to oversee students’ homework, projects & research.


It’s Your Turn! 1. Form groups of five people. 2. Take 10 minutes to brainstorm as many reasons as you can about why having strong local control rather than government control over education might be positive. 3. Record your group’s ideas on paper. 4. Be prepared to quickly share an idea that no other group has shared.


BREAK! Please return promptly in 15 minutes. Xie xie!


Teaching in America - Part 1_Wertz