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Activist’s Cookbook Our best ideas and advice for being an effective political activist. S E E PAG E 3 7

It’s not for you,

it’s for him.

September is

NEA Life Insurance Awareness


What would happen to your family if something happened to you? With adequate life insurance coverage, they could maintain a secure and stable home. Yet, 86% of NEA members are underinsured, and many are unaware of it. So during September, NEA Members Insurance Trust is offering a wealth of online resources to help. We’ve also lowered term rates an average of 14%. So check out your savings with our Instant Rate Calculator and learn more about how you can protect your family’s financial future.

Visit to learn more and take the fun Insurance IQ Quiz by 10/15/10 — you could win a $1,000 gift card!

You may also contact us at 1-800-637-4636, Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (or Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) ET. *Promotion conducted between 9/1/10 and 10/15/10. Sponsor, Operator is NEA Members Insurance Trust. Offer open only to NEA members. For details and official rules, visit Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries submitted. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

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neatoday features

> V O LU M E 2 9 > N U M B E R 2 > O C TO B E R / N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 0


The Activist’s Cookbook COVER STORY What’s the missing ingredient in this year’s recipe for electing pro-public education candidates? You. 38


Sizing Up the Obesity Crisis Move it, kids. NEA members are getting serious about student health. 27


They’re Number One 38 44

How does Finland turn out the best educated students in the world? More importantly, why can’t we do the same? 30



The New ParentTeacher Conference What’s the secret to getting parents to 44 your parent-teacher conferences? Their kids, for one. For others, read on...



last 13 WHY I’M A MEMBER




23 ESP



43 HELP!








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SCEA News Watch for the launch of SCEA’s exciting new website in the fall.



At the site, you may Register Your Access Card • Update Your Account • Learn About Member Benefits • Student Rebate Form • Attorney Referral Program • Comp. Life Insurance • Insurance Programs • Liability Insurance, and more.

Find out how NEA members are transforming the lives of tens of thousands of students by significantly raising academic achievement. >>

10 Free Things

Get Answers

We’ve got a list of free resources you can use this month and more free stuff for the whole year. >>

Get answers on NEA’s online, interactive, classroom management advice column. Read a sample on page 43, and find the full forum online: >>


the SCEA Member Advocacy Center. Click on the link at >>


ESEA How can we shape the reauthorizaion of ESEA? For one, get rid of the overreliance on test scores to evaluate teachers. You can help shape the law! Find out more. >>

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Get moving

Have you ever hosted a house party for a political candidate or issue and wondered what to serve? Find great political party recipes and share your own. >>


Find out how you can help get your students moving and eating right. >>

Just a click away



SCHOOL GARDENS We’re collecting images of school gardens for a spring feature. Check them out or add your own. >>

We’ve got hundreds of searchable lesson plans, just a click away. >>


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Bright Ideas

NEA NEWS LEARN MORE about National Education Association activism on key issues facing our 3.2 million members, and read what those members have to say about current events that affect them.

Enter to win the C.L.E.A.N. Awards! The National C.L.E.A.N.® Awards program recognizes the contributions custodians make to student health. They make our schools cleaner, greener, and safer for all of us. Apply or nominate your custodian by December 1, 2010. Learn more at


to share your story, and read about actions you can take to make sure your voice is heard on the issues that matter to educators.




GRANTS AND AWARDS There are all kinds of opportunities for educators, students, schools, and communities, and we’ve got the list! Browse all grants and awards, or search by keyword. >>


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Everyone Who Wants More

Engaged Students Please Raise Your Hand!

Online: Call: 800-233-9936 Fax: 800-417-2466

For tips on how to engage students, see our teacherfriendly resources authored by master educators. Inspire your classroom with kinesthetic teaching methods and braincompatible strategies that motivate, challenge and celebrate your students!



Off when you order by December 31 Use Priority Code D10A32

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The SCEA: We Speak Up for Children & Public Education


recently learned that some professional associations actually brag that they do not recommend or support political candidates. They’re the same folks who stand by silently as teacher jobs are lost and salaries cut. How shocking! The SCEA believes we have a duty to speak up for children and public education. We are proud to support candidates in

both parties who support public education. Our skilled and caring advocacy at all levels has made us the largest and oldest educational Association in the state. And in August, working with our national affiliate, we succeeded in passing the education jobs bill that is saving 3,200 teaching jobs in South Carolina. My heartfelt thanks to the many thousands of The SCEA members who have

been hard at work since August 21, helping to elect Republican and Democratic candidates who are recommended by The SCEA. Find information about these candidates on pages 46–47. Members are also invited to meet the candidates at The SCEA Representative Assembly from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on October 23 at headquarters.




Doug Walker


Mary Ellen Flannery Alain Jehlen Amanda Litvinov John Rosales Tim Walker

Amy Buffenbarger Sheala Durant Bonnie Gardner Joe Hammond Kevin Hart Zachary Kolsky Rebecca Logan Cindy Long Will Potter Karen Zauber



Earline Spence A D M I N I S T R AT I O N

Tammy Funderburk Nikole Pinkney John Young



Paula Chavez-Talley PRODUCTION

Marsha Blackburn Christian Lopez Alice Trued




Groff Creative Inc.

Michelle Chovan




Ken Potter

Cynthia McCabe


Collin Berglund A D V E RT I S I N G S A L E S

Carson Helsper (301) 527-2195

We are interested in hearing your feedback: MAIL:

NEA Today, 1201 16th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036 FA X :

(202) 822-7206



(202) 822-7207




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Maintaining a Proud Legacy of Dedicated Educators


t is important to me to acknowledge the history of The SCEA and the sacrifices of those who came before me. I understand that I am standing on the shoulders of a group of determined individuals who left a proud legacy of professionalism, who stood up and declared that teaching is more than a profession for the

meek. It is a profession of people committed to educating the next gener-ation to assume powerful positions in the global community. We are committed to ensuring that educators of today and tomorrow receive professional compensation and have their voices heard on all educational issues, including an adequate funding system for the public schools of South Carolina and this nation.


Better Than Ever!


ust as members of The SCEA strive for continuous improvement as educational professionals, so too does their Association. The SCEA moved into high gear in July and August preparing an historic membership campaign, including television, radio, and web advertising that are

now underway. The campaign’s theme—The SCEA, We Speak Up for Children and Public Education—reflects the advocacy mission of the Association. Equally important, this year The SCEA hired additional staff members in almost all regions of the state to ensure that the Association continues to provide the kind of caring, professional advocacy and member benefits that our members expect.


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Right Here, Right Now


’ve often said that elections matter. But it’s too easy to look at that statement in the abstract, in terms of inside-the-Beltway political maneuvering and media spin. That makes it too easy to forget that the outcome of elections can affect the daily lives—and the livelihoods—of educators across the country. Case in point: For a year, NEA fought for a jobs bill on Capitol Hill. We brought our members and state affiliate leaders to Washington to confront their members of Congress and insist that lawmakers do what common decency demands: keep teachers and education support professionals in their jobs. Their visits were supplemented with tens of thousands of postcards, emails, and personal calls from our members to their representatives in Congress. We used our collective voice to forcefully argue that the education jobs bill was good for America’s students and smart economics. In August, the bill passed the House and Senate and was signed by President Obama, providing $10 billion in federal aid to states to avert layoffs of educators. This tremendous victory for America’s students and public schools wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and support of members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and leaders of the House and the Senate. That’s

why elections are so important. And this year is no exception. Eight years of testing mania since Congress passed No Child Left Behind is long enough. Congress needs to fix this law, and the November elections could have a huge impact on what happens in the upcoming ESEA renewal. There are very competitive races for governor and U.S. senator across the country, and we can’t afford to sit these out. Also, this is the year of the Census, and the state legislators and governors elected in November will determine the Congressional districts for the next 10 years. So this election will have an impact for at least a decade. We have an opportunity—right now—to influence the next iteration of ESEA. We have an opportunity—right now—to help determine the course of public education in our country for the next generation. But in order to have a voice in the policy discussion, we must be involved in politics. Elections have consequences. We must seize this opportunity—right now—while it is within our grasp.


“We have an opportunity–right now–to determine the course of public education in our country for the next generation.” NEW ONLINE TOOLS FOR POLITICAL ACTIVISM The NEA Fund’s online fundraising website allows you to create your personal fundraising page and raise grassroots donations from fellow NEA members and supporters. It’s an excit-

ing new way to help strengthen the NEA Fund—the voice of public education in Washington, D.C. To sign up, visit It’s easy. And it’s quick.

ON THE WEB We’ve accomplished incredible things through Speak Up for Education and Kids and Education Votes. For grassroots engagement and action, there’s no better place to stay informed. FACEBOOK.COM/SPEAKUPFORKIDS EDUCATIONVOTES.NEA.ORG



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The SCEA Headquarters | 421 Zimalcrest Dr. | Columbia, SC PRESENTERS: • Dr. Lienne F. Medford, middle school MAT coordinator, Clemson University • Matthew Owens, math teacher, Spring Valley High School • Willie Bryant, math professor, Williamsburg Technical College FRIDAY Praxis I 1:00 pm: Reading 3:15 pm: Writing

SESSIONS: October 8–9, 2010

SATURDAY 9:00 am – 4:00 pm: Praxis I Math 9:00 am – 4:00 pm: Praxis II Middle or Sec. Math 9:00 am – Noon: Praxis II Early Childhood, Elementary Ed., PLT 1:00 pm: Middle School/High Social Studies/History or English/Language Arts (depends on the number of registrations) Fe b r u a r y 1 1 – 1 2 , 2 0 1 1

WHAT WILL IT COST? MEMBERS: • $20 for EACH workshop

NON-MEMBERS: • STUDENTS: $40 (For first workshop) May join for this amount. Each additional workshop is $20. • SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES: $200 (For first workshop) Each additional workshop is $20.

Please register by returning the form below. For more information, please contact The SCEA at 803.551.4145 or 1.800.422.7232, ext. 4145. Please mail with payment to The SCEA Praxis Workshop: 421 Zimalcrest Dr. Columbia, SC 29210. Name _________________________________________________ SSN __________________________ Address _____________________________________________________________________________ Phone ( _______ )_______________________________________ E-mail __ ______________________ College/University/School __________________________ Year in School (if applicable) ____________ School District (if applicable) ____________________________________________________________ ❑ Member ❑ Non-Member

❑ Registration Fee Enclosed: $ ________________________________

❑ Praxis I: ❑ Math ❑ Reading ❑ Writing Praxis II: (Indicate Session) ______________________________________________________________ Please submit at least one week before the date of the session.

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National Board Certification Support Sessions December 13, 2010 Certification Renewal — Advanced Candidacy

February 5, 2011 Portfolios 1–3

March 5, 2011 The Assessment Center Completing the Process

All sessions 10 am – 4 pm The SCEA Headquarters Columbia, SC

Contact: The SCEA at 1-800-422-7232 Or visit our webpage



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Your wallet will thank you. A valuable benefit of being a member is exclusive access to special savings year-round — all in one place. Save on groceries, school supplies, apparel, travel, electronics, cars and so much more. Visit your benefits Web Site and see how easy saving money can be.

Save time and money

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5 things you should know



NCLB: It’s Time To Act How much do you hate this law? Its test-and-punish approach isn’t working for educators or students— and sadly, the Obama Blueprint for Reform doesn’t offer anything better. But NEA’s Positive Agenda for ESEA Reauthorization certainly does. Its solutions include multiple measures of student and school performance over time and support for research-based turnaround strategies in low-achieving schools. It needs your support. Learn more about pending legislation and what you can do to help at



Some say No Child Left Behind is closing achievement gaps—yet only about 47 percent of Black males graduate, says the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Near St. Petersburg, Florida, the rate is as low as 21 percent. It’s a question of opportunities, Schott suggests: “Does your community provide… opportunities to be locked up or opportunities to learn?” Read the report and its recommendations at

Behavioral economists have taken their science to school cafeterias. In a Washington Post story, a Cornell scientist talks about moving a middle school’s fruit out of dimly lit steel bins into pretty wire baskets. Sales went up 54 percent in a week. Other tactics that work include verbal prompts. That is, when a cafeteria employee says, “Would you like a banana?” studies show kids are much more likely to make that healthy choice. Read more at http://




There are five “essential elements” for school improvement, according to a new book from the University of Chicago Press, Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago, which analyzes achievement data from the early 1990s (preArne Duncan years). And surprise! None of those essentials are merit pay, charter conversion, or teacher firings. Rather, the authors show that what’s important includes commitment to excellent teaching, community support, and time.

October is a time for tricks and treats, but also some important awareness campaigns like Bullying Prevention Week and Teen Read Week. One of our favorites is International Walk to School Day on October 6. Whether your concern is safer streets or slimmer students, this day is aimed at creating a more walkable America. Put on your comfy shoes and check out



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why i’m a member >>

Laura Wells Michael Palermo FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA When Laura Wells and Michael Palermo sat down in a Washington, D.C., coffee shop a few years ago, they had a single shared passion: teaching. How do you get your kids to love learning? How do you respectfully, creatively engage them? But when they left—after four hours— they had a new shared interest: each other. You might wonder, “Who introduced this perfect couple?” Well... This magazine in your hands isn’t just a great source of Association news—it also delivers love! In September 2006, Wells, a Falls Church, Virginia, middle school teacher, read an NEA Today story about an innovative high school educator in Arlington, Virginia, and thought, “Hmm, he looks familiar!” In fact, Palermo had student-taught at Wells’ old high school a decade earlier. They began an email correspondence, two years later were engaged, and then married this past spring. To love!



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in case you missed it


South Carolina


Community Partnerships

The SCEA Supports “Save Our Teachers, Save Our Schools”


The SCEA formally supports the Save Our Teachers, Save Our Schools legislation, which proposes that the state levy a small annual fee on commercial vehicles owned by for-profit companies, as is done in many other states, with the revenue dedicated to saving teacher positions. The effort was initiated and is being championed by Nicole Cabrera, a senior at Spartanburg High School. Last August, Ms. Cabrera presented her bill to selected members of the SC Senate at the delegation meeting. The meeting took place at the County Council Chambers in the County Administrative Office Building in Spartanburg. Using announcements on and an email blast to members, The SCEA urged all educators and friends of public education to attend this event. The president of The SCEA, Jackie B. Hicks, congratulated Ms. Cabrera for her commitment to public education, the children of South Carolina, and the future of the Palmetto State. President Hicks said,“A student who is as thoughtful and mature as Ms. Cabrera is a tribute to our public schools. She makes us all proud to be educators. The SCEA is working for tax reform that will allow the state to provide adequate and equitable funding to public schools, and Ms. Cabrera’s proposal is a good step toward that goal.” Ms. Cabrera said she was “saddened by the budget cuts affecting our school system today. At this time, our education system is on its knees, and we need to bring it back. I only have one year of high school left, however, I am thinking of the hundreds of thousands of students and children younger than me or not born yet. I want all of them to be exposed to all of the rewarding programs that have broadened my mind and imagination. To be able to enjoy a relaxed classroom atmosphere that is fit to challenge them on a daily basis. To be understood under the wings of a great counselor, like the one I have. To be able to open up their hearts to a teacher, a counselor, or an administrator when encountering a sad or bad situation in or outside of their homes.”

August in South Carolina is good news! The SCEA Board of Directors decided to celebrate Read Across Amercia for the entire school year and beyond. So, during the month of March, continue to wear your Cat in the Hat costume in celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Our children need us to serve as models for them and encourage them to read. They can go so many places and learn so many new things by reading. Chalk up those volunteer hours by reading to a child or to children every opportunity you get. Read at home, in the school, at church, and in the park. Whenever you get the opportunity, read to and with the children. Give our future leaders something more than the Internet to fill their space in time.

Retired Nominations

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: DUE NOVEMBER 1, 2010 This issue is of special importance to all persons who will be applying for 2011–2013 positions in The SCEARetired. All offices are vacant. Nomination forms are due by November 1. Applications for delegates to the NEA-R Annual Meeting should include a 50-word biography.

Positions are open for twoyear terms for president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer; two-year terms for district directors for Districts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11. The SCEAR Delegates (5) to The SCEA Delegate Assembly and The SCEA-R Delegates (1 or 2) to the NEA-Retired/NEA Representative Assembly are to be elected for one-year terms. All voting will be by mailed ballots. Nominations for the SCEA-R Distinguished Service Award and The SCEA-R Outstanding Service Award are also due November 1, 2010. And don’t forget to vote in the November 2 general election!

Energy Efficiency

NEA EARNS DISTINGUISHED ENVIRONMENTAL RATING NEA’s Washington headquarters was awarded an Energy Star rating from the Environmental Protection Agency after several years of reducing utility costs and implementing multiple changes to the building. In addition to replacing inefficient equipment, changing incandescent lights with fluorescent lights, implementing water saving measures, NEA continues to work with staff to reduce electrical usage in their offices. http://neatoday. org/tag/ leed/.


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ELECTION DAY IS NOVEMBER 2ND Your Vote Will Decide Our Future

With the debate on overhauling No Child Left Behind already in progress, we know this November 2nd will be a make-or-break date for American public education. Help the NEA Fund vigorously support pro-public education candidates and defeat those who oppose good policy for educators and students. Your vote on November 2nd will determine who makes decisions about our public schools.

To see the list of NEA’s recommended candidates and get involved,

VISIT TODAY! The NEA Fund: Our Voice in Washington The NEA Fund for Children and Public Education (NEA Fund) collects voluntary contributions from Association members which are used for political purposes, including, but not limited to, making contributions to and expenditures on behalf of friends of public education who are candidates for federal office. Only U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents may contribute to the NEA Fund. Contributions to the NEA Fund are voluntary; making a contribution is neither a condition of employment nor membership in the Association, and members have the right to refuse to contribute without suffering any reprisal. A member may contribute more or less than the suggested amount, or may contribute nothing at all, without it affecting his or her membership status, rights, or benefits in NEA or any of its affiliates. Contributions to the NEA Fund are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and name of employer for each individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 in a calendar year. NEAF10005

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How one New York teacher gets her kids moving in the right direction. BY M ARY E LLEN F LANNERY


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ifth-grade teacher Mindy Whisenhunt has a photo of herself, running a race, tacked to the wall of her Albany classroom. It caught her students’ attention because it’s not the typical sweat-and-shorts race photo. Mindy Whisenhunt is wearing a ball gown and tiara. When her girls saw the picture, they clamored to join the fun. “Let’s go for it!” Whisenhunt told them. Whisenhunt wanted her students—almost all of them on free or reduced-price lunch, many of them immigrants from the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico—to feel the thrill of the finish line. She wanted them to care for their growing bodies. She wanted them to know that yes, you can do this! You can do anything if you train and practice and “never, never, never, never, never give up!” So they practiced before school every morning, walking and running laps around their inner city playground. Whisenhunt found dance tutus for every girl and bought each one a tiara. And then, on a hot and humid June morning, the team from the Delaware Community School joined nearly 4,000 runners in the annual Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K. Whisenhunt ran side-by-side with the slowest runner, practically dragging her by the hand as she faltered—“I can’t do this!” That same girl, standing tall at the finish line, modestly told a news reporter, “I wanted to see what winning felt like. And now I know!”



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NEA Newsletters-Subscribe now! Works4Me and NEA Announce FREE RESOURES When You Want Them! Once you register and set up your profile, your TeachAde account will receive resources relevant to curriculum as others contribute them. You can always search our data base of over 60,000 resources contributed by teachers and other trusted educational content providers. connect 18 neatoday


Works4Me is a weekly e-newsletter that contains classroom tips written by educators, for educators. Each week, NEA editors select the best tips to highlight and deliver to your inbox. NEA Announce is a bi-monthly newsletter that delivers information on great deals on products and services offered to NEA members. So sign up today to receive Works4Me and NEA Announce at

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you asked >>

“Can you update us on race relations in the Mississippi town where you offered to pay for an integrated prom?” GARY HARMON English teacher, Halls High School Knoxville, Tennessee

ASKING MR. FREEMAN The award-winning actor lends his voice to disaster preparedness. organ Freeman doesn’t just play a wise and thoughtful man. Off screen, the Academy Awardwinning actor also uses his very famous baritone to speak up for causes like racial justice, environmental health, and disaster preparedness. “A hurricane strikes, does enormous amounts of damage... what if we were better prepared ahead of time?” Freeman asks. That kind of prevention is at the heart of his latest role in Plan!t Now (, an effort to promote preparedness and awareness of natural disasters. Here are Freeman’s answers to questions you posed:



The situation has improved somewhat, but not enough. I had to make my offer twice, and it took 11 years for it to be accepted. Even then—in 2008—a group of students held a Whites-only prom in protest. Pretty sad. There’s a documentary by Paul Saltzman about the entire event called Prom Night in Mississippi that shows how dim and unfounded the fears about holding an integrated prom were. I hope the strides made will continue.

“Do you have a personal connection to these [environmental] causes—an incident that made it personal for you?”

of Grenada. That’s how it began, and today, the organization that was born out of that, PLAN!T NOW, helps people in the United States and the Caribbean prepare for natural and man-made disasters.

“What is an effective media approach to counter rants, such as ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’”? SUSAN COLQUITT English teacher, Lynn Middle School Las Cruces, New Mexico

The best way is to show people the human and environmental tolls of the policies those slogans promote. CNN’s coverage of the Gulf oil spill did just that, and there are many other media groups doing this, too. News media report real news when concerns about corporate advertisers do not block their duty to “speak truth to power.”

JEFF WALKER Theater arts teacher, Eastern View High School, Culpeper, Virginia


Yes, there was a personal connection. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan absolutely devastated the island nation of Grenada. A personal friend who lives there called me asking for help. I went to my publicist at the time and asked what we could do. We created a cookbook with recipes from other stars, like Kenny Chesney. We used that to raise money to help the people

Teach elementary, middle, and high school students about severe weather science and safety at young A free computer game, developed in partnership among NEA, NOAA/National Weather Service, and the American Meteorological Society, answers intriguing questions, like “How many times can lightening strike a person or thing?”


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>> ourts are now grappling with the question whether students have the First Amendment right to use social media to vilify, parody, or defame school employees. Does the power of school officials to punish students extend to Internet postings? To date, the courts have given conflicting answers. In J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last February that a Pennsylvania school district didn’t violate a middle school student’s free speech rights by suspending her for posting on MySpace a fake profile of her principal that used lewd language to describe him as a pedophile and sex addict. Relying on the Supreme Court’s landmark Tinker decision, a 40-year-old, pre-Internet case brought by students suspended for wearing black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War, the court held that students can be punished for online speech if administrators believe the posting could cause a “substantial disruption” of the school. The court said the profile was potentially disruptive because it “undermined the principal’s authority” and caused “the school community” to question “his character.” In Layshock v. Hermitage School District, however, a different threejudge panel of the Third Circuit ruled on the same day that high school student Justin Layshock couldn’t be punished for his fake MySpace profile portraying his principal as a “drunk,” a drug user, and a “big whore.” The court held that such speech was protected by the First Amendment because school


CYBERSPEAK NO EVIL In a flood of lawsuits, students are challenging punishment for ridiculing teachers and principals in cyberspace.

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officials failed to show that the profile was potentially disruptive. “It would be an unseemly and dangerous precedent to allow… school authorities to reach into a child’s home and control his/her actions there,” the court cautioned. Recognizing the conflict between these two rulings, all 14 judges on the Third Circuit court reheard the cases last June. A new decision is expected by the end of the year. Other courts hearing similar lawsuits have also applied the Tinker standard, with mixed results: > EARLIER THIS YEAR, a federal court in Florida ruled that a high school student couldn’t be punished for creating a Facebook group entitled “Ms. Sarah Phelps is the worst teacher I’ve ever met,” and inviting other students to “express [their] feelings of hatred.”

> THE FEDERAL SECOND CIRCUIT has held that it was not a violation of the First Amendment when a school district disciplined a student for calling administrators “douche bags” on her personal blog. > IN CALIFORNIA, a federal court held that a student could be disciplined for posting on YouTube a slide show depicting the murder of her middle school English teacher. > AND A FEDERAL COURT in Washington upheld the 40-day suspension of a high school student for videotaping his teacher in class and then posting the video on YouTube with sexually-suggestive graphics and music. Given the uncertainty in the courts, it is likely that the Supreme Court will step in soon with a definitive ruling on the authority of school officials to punish students for cyberspace speech. —MICHAEL D. S IMPSON NEA O FFICE O F G ENER AL COUNSEL


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The Test Regime Reaches Kindergarten We’re missing out on opportunities for growing and learning. BY J AMIE B ARNHILL

ne day last year, as I was preparing my kindergartners for testing, a little girl burst into tears. The test was written vocabulary: The children are to write all the words they’ve learned this year that they can remember in 10 minutes. They get no credit for a word unless they spell it correctly. I try to keep things positive. I never use the word “test.” I say, “It’s a chance to show me how smart you are.” I joke with them. But she started crying. She was scared she wouldn’t know enough words. I said, “If you write one word, we’ll be proud of you.” I always tell parents childhood should be a journey, not a race. But last year we spent six weeks preparing for tests and taking tests—at the start of the year, at the end, and in between. This is not developmentally appropriate. At five years old, children should learn socialization skills, play pretend games, work with blocks, paint, sing, dance, and get a start on their academic skills with hands-on activities. That’s what we used to do, but 12 years ago, things started shifting. Now we don’t just read with children, we give reading assessments, and the assessments are getting harder. All that testing leaves less time for authentic learning. I’m an outdoorsman. There’s a farm across the street


‘Childhood should be a journey, not a race.’ PHOTO: LATISH EDWARDS

from school and my best friend is the farmer. We go and pick pumpkins and the students learn this is where pumpkins come from, not Walmart. We carve out the seeds, count them, dry them, put them in the oven, and eat them. We’re in a rural setting. One day on a nature walk, we found a deer carcass in the woods. We weren’t sure how it ended up there, so we had an inquiry-based lesson. They asked me, “Did you shoot it?” No, I don’t hunt here. “Did another hunter?” No, it’s not deer season and no one is allowed to hunt near school. “Is it one of Santa’s reindeer?” No, it’s a different kind of deer. One student noticed that it was not far from a road, and its front leg was shattered. We deduced that it was hit by a car and came here before it died. We brought bones back to the classroom and put them together like at a museum. We did art projects about the deer and wrote stories about what happened. They’ll never forget. Another time, we walked to a catalpa tree with velvety leaves. They felt the leaves, and one student noticed caterpillars, not moving, with something on their backs. They had been stung by wasps that laid their eggs there. When the eggs hatch, the grubs eat the caterpillar. Around Thanksgiving, I ask the

children to write a “How to cook turkey” book. Some give all the details: “Mom puts her hands up in there and pulls stuff out.” Homework includes helping parents prepare a meal. We cook in class, too, following recipes and talking about why it’s important to wash your hands. It all ties together. Isn’t this better than six weeks of testing? —Jamie Barnhill teaches fifth grade in Durham, North Carolina, but for the previous 16 years he taught kindergarten.

Visit to read what NEA is doing about the national testing obsession, and share your ideas.


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3RD Annual National

Award! The National C.L.E.A.N.速 Awards program recognizes the contributions that custodians make to public health in their schools, communities, and their profession. Awards will be presented to school custodians who demonstrate outstanding leadership in the field of school cleanliness, and who reflect the contributions that education support professionals (ESP) can make to public health.

2011 Awards Program At-a-Glance: > Application packages must be postmarked on or before December 1, 2010. > Applicants may self-nominate or they may be nominated by someone in their school, district, or state or local association. > Only NEA members who are employed in a K-12 school(s) located within the U.S. are eligible to apply. > Five awards (one top recipient and four runners-up) will be presented at the NEA National ESP Conference in Washington, DC (March 11-13, 2011). > Award packages will include: all expense paid trip to the NEA National ESP Conference, cash award, one year NEA and National Council for Education Support Professionals (NCESP) membership, and more!

To learn how you can apply or nominate a custodian visit Send questions to The award program is a joint initiative of the National Education Association (NEA), the NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN), and the American Cleaning InstituteSM (ACI), formerly the Soap and Detergent Association. 2010 Top Recipient Pat Lortie

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Fighting Privatization in Court and at the Ballot Box BY J OHN R OSALES

or the past nine years, Paul Mayers has served as president of the Durand Education Support Personnel Association (DESPA) in Michigan, determined to prod district officials to improve schools. For 15 years, the custodian has worked for Durand Area Schools and as a youth director at two churches. He’s also known in Durand, a small rural town nestled between the cities of Flint and Lansing, as a faithful attendee of school board meetings. “I’ve been to a lot of meetings over the years,” says Mayers. “I’ve even sat at the table during work sessions because I was the only [non-board member] there.” That all changed last November, when Mayers and the bargaining team negotiated a new contract with district officials. In an unusual turn of events— in a single day—district officials ratified the contract, then abruptly voted to privatize 22 custodial and food service jobs, including Mayers’. The district kept its bus drivers under contract. In another unexpected twist, shortly after giving the fired workers 30 days’ notice, the district offered to rehire them under the auspices of the outsourcing company PCMI.


“Right after that, people approached me to run for the school board,” says Mayers. Fueled by his determination to defend what’s best for kids and schools, Mayers ran for a school board seat last May and was elected to a three-year term with almost 65 percent of the vote. “It’s a victory for school employees, but also for the thousands of students who benePaul Mayers fit from Mayers’ commitment to them and their future,” says Iris Salters, president of the Michigan Education Association (MEA). MEA also responded to the district’s privatization fiasco. They sued, alleging that the district did not bargain in good faith when it ratified their contract and then privatized two-thirds of the unit at the same board meeting. The union also alleged that the school district and PCMI were joint employers, and as such, the district was bound to follow the contract that it had ratified.

MEA won its case: The district paid the 22 employees about $60,000 total as a settlement. Despite the win in court, the privatization battle isn’t over. The ESPs may have gotten their old jobs back, but they remain privatized employees who have lost holiday and vacation pay, as well as health and retirement benefits. For more of the story, go to nea. org/home/40608.htm. Also, Mayers speaks at a rally: 062410_rally_video.html.

MORE ESP Taking It to the People

Who We Are

After 37 ESPs in Jersey County, Illinois, received layoff notices, they published a full-page article in the local paper explaining their roles in schools. Read about it in Dave Arnold’s editorial at htm, and a related story at western+Education+Association+in+Jersey+County.

ESPs speak from the heart about their jobs and deep-seated devotion to their students. Watch them at washington bridge/frame.html.



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>> ounting a successful living wage campaign during a recession is always a challenge. For education support professionals in Delta-Greely, Alaska—a small, cashstarved rural community—the odds were especially daunting. But thanks to effective training, tenacity, and, most importantly, unity, the 60-member Delta-Greeley ESP Association (D/GESPA) walked out of its 2009 bargaining round with salary increases over three years, not to mention a bump in district contributions to their health care coverage. All this after the district came to the talks armed with a 0-0-0 proposal and a list of takeaways, including a cut in ESP workdays. “It was looking a bit tough,” recalls Andrea Lemons, a speech-language therapy aide, serving on her first bargaining team. “But we were ready.” Strengthening the ESP resolve was the united front they had formed with the Delta-Greely Education Association. Many teachers discovered how little ESPs make (average salary: $20,000), and grew concerned that probable turnover would directly impact their own classrooms. Solidarity can be vigorously tested when the school district tries to bait one party over the other, but Delta/Greely educators resisted these attempts. “Our alliance with the teachers was critical,” Lemons says. “We all knew each other and understood that we were all in this together. Our job was to stay strong and stay united.” “Even though there were separate contracts being negotiated,” adds Stephanie Slette, a language arts teacher at Fort Greely Middle School, “We all attended training and bargaining committee meetings, held district-wide informational meetings, and sat at the bargaining table as one large team. The certified staff in Delta/Greely realize the

M STRENGTH IN UNITY Beating the odds, ESPs and teachers in Alaska join forces for a better wage. BY T IM WALKER

Below, Delta Greely ESPA’s Andrea Lemons

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positive impact ESPs make on students and within the district, and this is one way we tried to show our support for them.” D/GESPA was also empowered with organizing tools acquired from Living Wage training sessions conducted by NEA-Alaska. Lemons credits the sessions with helping the ESPs shape a more sophisticated, confident message—one that would rally the community to their cause, but also bring pressure to bear at the bargaining table. They knew what impact the district’s proposal would have not only on them, but on students’ education and the entire community. It was their job to help the district understand the consequences as well. “Bargaining and mediation is a contentious process,” Lemons explains. “But I never thought the district was attacking or belittling us. They just came to the table believing that salary increases were simply not possible in this climate and that our schools wouldn’t be unduly harmed. They were wrong and we had to help them see that.” It worked. In 2010, after a grueling mediation process, the ESPs and teachers ratified new three-year contracts that provide both with a bonus in the first year and a 2 percent salary increase in the second and third years. And on top of that—no takebacks. With this victory, Delta/Greely educators believe they can move on to new bargaining rounds with a proven, winning strategy, fortified by NEAAlaska’s burgeoning statewide Living Wage campaign. “We’ve come out of this process more confident and more empowered,” says Lemons. “ESPs and teachers will be just as united in our message. We won’t be asking for favors. This is about doing the right thing for our schools and our students.”

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W You Did It! Saving 161,000 jobs required a slew of other numbers first. BY C YNTHIA M CC ABE

101,636 phone calls made to congressional offices by supporters


POSTCARDS sent by members to Congressional offices in Washington and the states


ORGANIZING PACKETS developed for state Representative Assemblies and other local meetings. Packets included petitions, worksite flyers, and the postcards mentioned above


TEXT MESSAGES sent to activists with legislative updates and calls to action



hen NEA’s campaign to save educator jobs threatened by state budget cuts ended this summer with President Obama signing emergency funding legislation into law, it was thanks to the participation of members just like you. Across the country, teachers and support professionals shared their stories about how their layoffs would hurt students. They flew to Washington to lobby their members of Congress. They took to local radio and television airwaves

with their message. They waved signs until their arms ached to protest unfair budget cuts at countless state rallies. And after long days in their classrooms—classrooms they knew they wouldn’t be returning to in the fall without federal aid—they sat down and composed heartfelt emails to their representatives and senators, imploring them to commit the money that could keep them on the job. Here’s a breakdown of the highly successful effort to save jobs, by the numbers:




FANS on the Speak Up for Education & Kids Facebook page ( speakupforkids)

NEW EMAIL ACTIVISTS registered with NEA during the campaign

EMAILS sent to Congress through NEA’s Legislative Action Center ( in support of the Education Jobs Fund


major national news outlets interviewed NEA leadership and members during the campaign—including CBS News, NBC News, MSNBC, FOX News, The Fox Report, CNN, C-SPAN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, McClatchy wire service, Associated Press, USA Today, NPR, and CBS Radio

television viewers reached on Speak Up for Education & Kids Day on May 26, thanks to commercial airtime in key cities across the U.S.


190 diverse organizations — from labor organizations to parent groups and educational institutions — formed a coalition with NEA to get the education jobs bill passed.

in support of the jobs bill. NEA sent links to these video messages to the Senate offices. ( NEAABS)

247–161 Final vote


Final vote in the U.S. Senate

state affiliate presidents recorded phone calls supporting delegates at the NEA Representative Assem- the legislation that reached 1.1 million bly videotaped messages to their Senators NEA members


in the U.S. House to send the bill to the President


4 Republicans in Con-

gress crossed party lines to vote for the Education Jobs Fund


3,642 members signed petitions in support of education jobs funding 350 personal stories told about the impact of layoffs shared on

States (California, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, and Oklahoma) sent 16 member lobbyists to D.C., visiting 26 Congressional offices

243 Congressional

offices visited by NEA Board members in May alone


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priority schools

Los Angeles is betting the answer is ‘Yes!’ BY A LAIN J EHLEN

cross the country, NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign is helping educators take the initiative to turn around schools in trouble. One of the most dramatic cases is Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. There, and in dozens of other LA schools, faculty-led councils have been given authority to make the big decisions. This experiment was set in motion last February when the LA school board voted to adopt plans submitted by educator-led teams for 29 schools in lowincome, high-minority areas of the city. The board had put 36 schools out to bid, inviting proposals from outside organizations. The smart money was on charter operators to snag most of them. But United Teachers Los Angeles helped educators team up with parents and administrators to write their own proposals. Twenty-nine were accepted. Jefferson’s plan includes splitting into five autonomous mini-schools, each run by a council with power to choose its principal, spend its budget, and decide key policies. Here are two of those who are leading the change:

Social studies teacher Nicolle Fefferman

At left, UTLA chapter chair Nicolle Fefferman. At right, Luis Garcia paints a mural of famous Jefferson High grads, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche.

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Nicolle Fefferman, the UTLA chapter chair, grew up in LA, but was teaching in New Haven, Connecticut, when she read about a student riot at Jefferson—and decided to come home. “I wanted to be


a part of fixing the problems,” she says. “I figured I’d get in, work hard, and join up with like-minded people to make positive changes.” So she did. And when UTLA offered to help Jefferson teachers write a proposal for their school, Fefferman jumped in. “We knew we’d have to scrape together the time and scramble to teach, and still have our families. We’d have to move, move, move and come up with something good, good, good!” She led a team of about 25. They read, visited schools, put in long hours, and wrote a plan focused on strengthening bonds between teachers and students. When the school board announced its surprise decision, Fefferman was excited, proud—and exhausted. “I’m so tired!” she said. “But now we have to start the work. This is it!”

Art teacher Luis Garcia

Luis Garcia graduated from Jefferson High, and he was not a fan of the school when he was there. “One thing missing was teacher support,” he says. “I’m not saying none of them cared—half of them did. That half kept me going.” One who cared was Garcia’s science teacher and volleyball coach. “He wasn’t from our culture. He was Middle Eastern. But he tried to learn our language and get to know us. He inspired me to come back.” Garcia’s approach to teaching: “I need to learn from my students before they can learn from me. If I don’t know what they’re going through, how am I going to get through to them?” Garcia has high hopes for the new Jefferson High. “There will be a more personal relationship with students and parents, because we won’t be under the control of a bureaucratic system. It will be up to the school and the home. I believe that will change the culture.”


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changes at school. hroughout the day, students at Evoline C. “Students who are healthy learn better, are better West Elementary School in Fairburn, Georgia, put down their pencils for 10-minute able to concentrate on their work, have better attenphysical activity breaks like jumping rope dance, and perform better in class,” says Ehrlich. and winding around the classroom in “Schools are powerful places to not only teach young conga lines. In Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman Elemenpeople the academic skills they need to succeed, but tary students cross-country ski after school during the also healthy life skills.” long winter months. And at Park Elementary in Tulsa Another NEA-HIN partner is Action for Healthy Oklahoma, they’re saying goodbye cookie dough, Kids, which collaborates with the Alliance For a hello wrapping paper. For fundraisers, that is. Healthier Generation (the Alliance) at schools nationThey’re all working with the wide, including Perry County Alliance for a Healthier GenerCentral High School ation, a partner organization (PCCHS) in Hazard, in the National Education Kentucky. Association’s Health InformaThe high school was tion Network (NEA-HIN) honored last summer by campaign to reduce the childthe Alliance with a Bronze hood obesity epidemic. Award for efforts to A key component of the improve school wellness, campaign is partnering with which is no small feat in on-the-ground organizations southeastern Kentucky. that work every day to Hazard is in the heart Perry County Central High Runners improve the health of children. of the eastern coalfields of “We want NEA members to know these organizations Appalachia. This is rural America, where the median are already in our schools, and that they have a crediincome is just over $20,000, 30 percent of families ble work history,” says NEA-HIN Manager of Prolive below the poverty line, and buying organic programs Nora Howley. duce at Whole Foods is not an option. On top of that, Ginny Ehrlich, executive director of the Alliance Perry County lies in an eight-county area identified for a Healthier Generation, encourages educators to by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as sign up for the organization’s Healthy Schools Prothe least physically active region in the state. gram online at ParticipaBut the kids at PCCHS are working to change all tion is free and provides access to hundreds of that. Students like senior Corey Bryant, 17, who has resources and tools for implementing healthy long struggled with weight and was determined to join




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SIZING UP the Obesity Crisis his classmates to whip his and the entire student body into shape. “The best part is the motivation,” he says. “We’re pushing each other to get healthy.” First, they started a physical activity club they named “Walk It Out,” where students use breaks within their class schedule to walk laps outside around the school or inside the gym. Then they formed a co-ed intramural basketball league, complete with a tournament and championship game in April. And this year they challenged the entire student body to go from couch potato to road race runner in the “Couch to 5K”

Perry County Central High Runners

“Plus, there are no more pizza or candy fundraisers, … We do a lot more car washes now.”

afterschool interval running program. They got their fitness ideas from Students Taking Charge (, a project of Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) that helps students across the country make their schools healthier places. “The students wanted to get more of their classmates off the couch and away from TV and video games,” says principal and NEA member Estill Neace. “They’re training three days a week for two community 5Ks, one this fall and another in the spring, using a grant from AFHK to pay the entry fees.” Even Neace is trying to “walk the walk” by training

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with the group and cutting down on his Diet Pepsi consumption. He also set a good example by getting rid of unhealthy vending snacks and working with the school’s dietician to improve the nutritional standards of school meals to meet the guidelines of the Alliance, which are higher than the requirements of the state. “Plus, there are no more pizza or candy fundraisers,” says Neace. “We do a lot more car washes now.” The school also wants to expand its breakfast program and recently applied for AFHK’s School Breakfast to School Wellness Partnership grant, a crucial program for rural schools. Hazard is in one of the nation’s “rural food deserts,” a term used to describe areas where there are lots of fast food chains but limited access to markets selling healthy, fresh food. And because it’s in a low-income community, 80 percent of students are on the free or reduced-price meal plan. Breakfast and lunch served at school might be the only meals many of these kids will eat. A longtime advocate for universal school breakfast, NEA-HIN is working to expand the country’s school breakfast program and is launching breakfast-in-the-classroom resources for NEA members later this year. "It’s important that kids start the day well-fed, with nutritious meals,” says Lisa Sharma, NEAHIN’s Program Coordinator for Nutrition, Hunger, and Physical Activity. “Eating a healthy breakfast is tied to improved academic performance and can help kids develop healthy eating habits —NEACE they will carry with them into adulthood, which can help prevent obesity.” Kids who skip breakfast are more fatigued and less focused by late morning, which can trigger behavior problems. They have more difficulty concentrating and don’t perform as well on tests. They also have more sick days, more visits to the nurse’s office, and eat more calories later in the day, leading to weight problems. The same can be true when they eat unhealthy


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meals. That’s why NEA-HIN, along with NEA lobbyists, pushed for a robust reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act this year. They urged Congress to increase resources for all school meal programs, given the link between good nutrition and academic success; to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold on the school campus, including vending machine fare; and to provide training for food service workers to learn new ways to up the nutritional value of school meals. “Schools have made a lot of positive changes in response to federal requirements for wellness policies, but even in tough economic times the government needs to continue funding these programs,” says Jerald Newberry, Director of NEA-HIN. “With the serious threat the obesity epidemic poses to the health of our nation, there is no excuse for not having healthy schools.”

A few steps in the right direction can go a long distance—like 26 miles. After joining the fitness program at PCCHS, junior Brad Williams, 16, ramped up his training regime. This fall he’ll run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. “It all starts with that first step,” he says.

What else is NEA-HIN doing to fight obesity? VISIT NEAHIN.ORG TO LEARN MORE.

Let’s Move!


t wasn’t long after the First Family moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that Michelle Obama broke ground on the White House Kitchen Garden with students from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C. Through the garden, she began a discussion with kids about proper nutrition and the role food plays in living a healthy life. A year later, she launched “Let’s Move,” a children’s health campaign that aims to beat childhood obesity in a single generation, so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight. A key ingredient of her campaign is healthier meals at school. “It’s a no-brainer,” says Marie Knutson, a food service worker at Lien Elementay in Amery, Wisconsin. “How can we expect children to develop and grow if we don’t feed


them properly, especially when we don’t know what they’re getting home?” Knutson’s school has begun to serve more fruits and vegetables— many of which are harvested from the school’s new garden—as snacks as well as with lunches, but she says they still buy too much processed, prepackaged food because it’s less expensive.

“The problem is, we only have so much money,” she says That’s why NEA is “at the table” with the Let’s Move campaign to ask for more funding for school meals and more training for food service workers to help them plan and prepare healthier menus. NEA also lobbied for additional funding through the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. The vote didn’t happen before this issue went to press: To find out whether schools got the funding they asked for, visit childobesity.


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Number Finland came from behind to become the world leader in student achievement. Their strategy is the opposite of what we’re doing in America. BY L INDA D ARLING-HAMMOND

One wonders what we might accomplish as a nation if we could finally set aside what appears to be our de facto commitment to inequality, so profoundly at odds with our rhetoric o f e quity, a nd p ut t he m illions o f d ollars s pent continually a rguing a nd lit igating in to b uilding a h ighquality education system for all children. To imagine how that m ight b e d one, o ne c an l ook a t n ations th at s tarted with v ery little a nd p urposefully b uilt h ighly p roductive and e quitable s ystems, s ometimes a lmost f rom s cratch, i n the space of only two to three decades. As an example, I am going to briefly describe how Finland b uilt a s trong e ducational s ystem, n early f rom t he ground up. Finland was not succeeding educationally in the 1970s, when the United States was the unquestioned education leader in the world. Yet this country created a productive t eaching a nd l earning s ystem b y ex panding a ccess while investing purposefully in ambitious educational goals using strategic approaches to build teaching capacity. I use the term “teaching and learning system” advisedly to describe a set of elements that, when well designed and connected, r eliably s upport a ll s tudents in t heir le arning. These el ements en sure t hat s tudents r outinely en counter well-prepared teachers who are working in concert around a thoughtful, high-quality curriculum, supported by appropri30 neatoday


ate m aterials a nd a ssessments—and t hat t hese el ements o f the system help students, teachers, leaders, and the system as a whole continue to learn and improve. Although no system f rom a far c an b e t ransported w holesale i nto a nother context, t here i s m uch t o l earn f rom t he ex periences o f those who have addressed problems we also encounter.

The Finnish Success Story Finland h as b een a p oster c hild f or s chool i mprovement since it r apidly c limbed t o t he t op o f t he in ternational rankings after it emerged from the Soviet Union’s shadow. Once p oorly r anked e ducationally, w ith a t urgid b ureaucratic s ystem th at p roduced l ow-quality e ducation a nd large in equalities, it n ow r anks f irst a mong a ll t he O ECD nations ( Organization f or E conomic C ooperation a nd Development—roughly, the so-called “developed” nations) Used with permission from the Publisher. From DarlingHammond, Linda, The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future, New York: Teachers College Press, © 2010 by Teachers College, Columbia University. This excerpt originally ran as “Steady Work: Finland Builds a Strong Teaching and Learning System” in the Summer 2010 issue of Rethinking Schools, Volume 24, Number 4. ILLUSTRATION: MICHAEL GLENWOOD

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Education Reform

on t he P ISA ( Program f or I nternational S tudent A ssessments), a n in ternational t est f or 1 5-year-olds in la nguage, math, and science literacy. The country also boasts a highly equitable distribution of achievement, even for its growing share of immigrant students. In a r ecent a nalysis o f e ducational r eform p olicies, Finnish p olicy a nalyst P asi S ahlberg d escribes h ow, s ince the 1 970s, F inland h as c hanged it s t raditional e ducation system “into a model of a modern, publicly financed education s ystem w ith w idespread e quity, g ood q uality, la rge participation—all of this at reasonable cost.” More than 99 percent of students now successfully complete compulsory basic education, and about 90 percent complete upper secondary school. Two-thirds of these graduates enroll in uni-

Strategies for Reform Because o f t hese t rends, m any p eople h ave t urned t o F inland for clues to educational transformation. As one analyst notes: Most v isitors t o F inland d iscover e legant s chool buildings f illed w ith c alm c hildren a nd h ighly e ducated t eachers. T hey a lso r ecognize t he l arge a utonomy t hat s chools en joy, l ittle interference b y t he central e ducation a dministration in s chools’ e veryday lives, systematic methods to address problems in the l ives o f s tudents, a nd t argeted p rofessional h elp for those in need. Leaders i n F inland a ttribute t he g ains t o t heir i ntensive

“In a Finnish classroom, it is rare to see a teacher standing at the front of a classroom lecturing students for 50 minutes.” —LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND

versities o r p rofessionally o riented p olytechnic s chools. More than 50 percent of the Finnish adult population participates in adult education programs. Ninety-eight percent of the cost of education at all levels is covered by government rather than by private sources. Although t here w as a s izable ac hievement g ap am ong students i n th e 1 970s, s trongly c orrelated to s ocio-economic status, this gap has been progressively reduced as a result of curriculum reforms started in the 1980s. By 2006, Finland’s between-school variance on the PISA science scale was o nly 5 p ercent, w hereas t he a verage b etween-school variance i n o ther O ECD na tions w as a bout 3 3 p ercent. (Large b etween-school v ariation i s g enerally r elated t o social inequality.) The o verall v ariation in a chievement a mong F innish students i s a lso s maller th an th at o f n early a ll th e o ther OECD countries. This is true despite the fact that immigration f rom n ations w ith lo wer le vels o f e ducation h as increased sharply in recent years, and there is more linguistic and cultural diversity for schools to contend with. One recent analysis notes that in some urban schools the number of immigrant children or those whose mother tongue is not Finnish approaches 50 percent. Although most immigrants are still from places like Sweden, the most rapidly growing newcomer groups since 1990 have b een f rom A fghanistan, B osnia, I ndia, I ran, I raq, S erbia, S omalia, Turkey, T hailand, an d V ietnam. T hese n ew immigrants speak more than 60 languages. Yet achievement has been climbing in Finland and growing more equitable.

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investments in teacher education—all teachers receive three years o f h igh-quality gr aduate level p reparation c ompletely at s tate ex pense—plus a m ajor o verhaul o f t he c urriculum and assessment system designed to ensure access to a “thinking c urriculum” f or a ll s tudents. A r ecent a nalysis o f t he Finnish system summarized its core principles as follows: > Resources for those who need them most. > High standards and supports for special needs. > Qualified teachers. > Evaluation of education. > Balancing decentralization and centralization. The p rocess o f c hange h as b een a lmost t he r everse o f policies i n t he U nited S tates. O ver t he p ast 4 0 y ears, F inland ha s s hifted f rom a hi ghly c entralized s ystem e mphasizing external testing to a more localized system in which highly trained teachers design curriculum around the very lean na tional s tandards. T his ne w s ystem i s i mplemented through equitable funding and extensive preparation for all teachers. The logic of the system is that investments in the capacity of local teachers and schools to meet the needs of all students, coupled with thoughtful guidance about goals, can unleash the benefits of local creativity in the cause of common, equitable outcomes. Meanwhile, the United States has been imposing more external t esting—often ex acerbating d ifferential a ccess t o curriculum—while creating more inequitable conditions in local s chools. R esources f or c hildren a nd s chools, i n t he form o f b oth o verall f unding a nd t he p resence o f t rained, experienced teachers, have become more disparate in many states, th us u ndermining th e c apacity o f s chools to m eet

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the o utcomes t hat a re o stensibly s ought. S ahlberg n otes ize e ducational o pportunity b y f irst e liminating t he p racthat Finland has taken a very different path. He observes: tice o f s eparating s tudents i nto very d ifferent tr acks b ased The F inns h ave w orked s ystematically o ver 3 5 y ears on their test scores, and then by eliminating the examinato ma ke s ure t hat c ompetent p rofessionals w ho c an tions themselves. This occurred in two stages between 1972 craft the best learning conditions for all students are and 1982, and a common curriculum, through the end of in all schools, rather than thinking that standardized high s chool, w as d eveloped t hroughout t he e ntire s ystem. instruction a nd r elated t esting c an b e b rought i n a t These c hanges w ere i ntended t o eq ualize ed ucational o utthe last minute to improve student learning and turn comes and provide more open access to higher education. around failing schools. During t his t ime, s ocial s upports f or c hildren a nd f amilies Sahlberg i dentifies a s et o f g lobal r eforms, u ndertaken were also enacted, including health and dental care, special especially i n t he A nglo-Saxon c ountries, t hat F inland ha s education services, and transportation to schools. not a dopted, in cluding s tandardization o f c urriculum By the late 1970s, investment in teachers was an addienforced b y f requent ex ternal t ests; n arrowing o f t he cu rtional f ocus. Teacher e ducation w as i mproved an d riculum to basic skills in reading and mathematics; reduced extended. P olicy m akers d ecided t hat i f t hey i nvested i n use o f i nnovative t eaching s trategies; a doption o f ed ucavery s killful t eachers, t hey c ould a llow lo cal s chools m ore tional i deas f rom ex ternal s ources, r ather t han d evelopautonomy t o ma ke d ecisions a bout w hat a nd h ow t o ment o f l ocal i nternal capacity f or i nnovation a nd teach—a reaction against the oppressive, centralized system problem-solving; a nd a doption of h igh-stakes a ccountabilthey sought to overhaul. ity p olicies, f eaturing r ewards a nd sa nctions f or st udents, This bet seems to have paid off. By the mid-1990s, the teachers, and schools. By contrast, he suggests: country had ended the highly regulated system of curricuFinnish e ducation p olicies a re a r esult o f f our d ecades lum management (reflected in older curriculum guides that of s ystematic, m ostly in tentional, had exceeded 700 pages of predevelopment that has created a culscriptions). T he c urrent ture o f d iversity, tr ust, a nd r espect WHAT DO YOU THINK? national c ore c urriculum is a within F innish s ociety i n g eneral, Congress will likely tackle rewriting much l eaner d ocument—feaand within its education system in No Child Left Behind soon. Should we turing f ewer t han 1 0 p ages o f particular.… E ducation s ector change course and follow Finland? guidance f or al l o f m athematdevelopment h as b een ics, f or ex ample—that gu ides SPEAK YOUR MIND AT grounded on e qual op portuteachers i n c ollectively d evelNEA.ORG/HAMMOND ( YOU C AN ALSO nities f or a ll, e quitable d istrioping lo cal c urriculum a nd FIND FOOTNOTES). SEE THE CHANGES bution of resources rather than assessments. The focus of 1990s NEA IS ADVOC ATING AT competition, in tensive e arly in tercurricular r eform w as o n s ciNEA.ORG/NCLB. ventions for prevention, and buildence, t echnology, a nd i nnovaing gradual trust among education tion, leading to an emphasis on practitioners, especially teachers. teaching students how to think creatively and manage their Equity in o pportunity t o le arn is s upported in m any own learning. ways in addition to basic funding. There a re n o ex ternal s tandardized t ests u sed t o r ank Finnish s chools a re g enerally s mall ( fewer t han 3 00 students or schools in Finland, and most teacher feedback pupils) with relatively small class sizes (in the 20s), and are to s tudents is in n arrative f orm, e mphasizing d escriptions uniformly well equipped. The notion of caring for students of t heir l earning p rogress a nd a reas f or gr owth. A s i n t he educationally a nd p ersonally is a c entral p rinciple in t he NAEP e xams i n t he U nited S tates, sa mples o f st udents a re schools. All students receive a free meal daily, as well as free evaluated on open-ended assessments at the end of the sechealth care, transportation, learning materials, and counselond a nd ni nth g rades t o i nform c urriculum a nd s chool ing in their schools, so that the foundations for learning are investments. T he f ocus i s on u sing i nformation t o d rive in p lace. B eyond t hat, a ccess t o q uality cu rriculum a nd learning and problem-solving, rather than punishment. teachers has become a c entral aspect of Finnish educational Finland maintains one exam prior to attending univerpolicy. sity: the matriculation exam, organized and evaluated by a matriculation e xam b oard a ppointed b y t he F innish M inistry of Education. Although not required for graduation or Improving Curriculum Content entry into a university, it is common practice for students and Access to t ake t his s et o f f our o pen-ended ex ams t hat em phasize problem-solving, analysis, and writing. Teachers use official Beginning in the 1970s, Finland launched reforms to equalOCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2010

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guidelines t o g rade t he m atriculation e xams lo cally, a nd samples of the grades are re-examined by professional raters hired b y t he m atriculation e xam b oard. A lthough it is counterintuitive to those accustomed to external testing as a me ans of a ccountability, F inland’s u se of s chool-based, student-centered, o pen-ended t asks em bedded i n t he cu rriculum i s o ften to uted a s a n i mportant r eason f or th e nation’s success on the international exams. The n ational c ore c urriculum p rovides t eachers w ith recommended assessment criteria for specific grades in each subject a nd i n t he o verall f inal a ssessment o f s tudent progress e ach y ear. L ocal sc hools a nd t eachers t hen u se those guidelines to craft a more detailed curriculum and set of learning outcomes at each school, as well as approaches to a ssessing b enchmarks i n t he c urriculum. A ccording t o the Finnish National Board of Education, the main purpose of a ssessing st udents i s t o g uide a nd e ncourage st udents’ own r eflection a nd s elf-assessment. Teachers g ive s tudents formative and summative reports both through verbal and narrative f eedback. I nquiry i s a m ajor f ocus o f le arning in

in research-based master’s degree programs. Preparing teachers for a research-based profession has been the central idea of teacher education developments in Finland. Prospective teachers are competitively selected from the pool of c ollege g raduates—only 1 5 p ercent of t hose w ho apply are admitted—and receive a three-year graduate-level teacher p reparation p rogram, en tirely f ree o f c harge a nd with a liv ing s tipend. U nlike t he U nited S tates, w here teachers either go into debt to prepare for a profession that will pay them poorly or enter with little or no training, Finland m ade t he d ecision t o in vest in a u niformly w ell-prepared t eaching f orce b y r ecruiting t op ca ndidates a nd paying them to go to school. Slots in teacher training programs ar e h ighly c oveted an d s hortages ar e v irtually unheard of. Teachers’ p reparation i ncludes b oth ex tensive c oursework o n ho w t o t each—with a s trong e mphasis o n u sing research b ased o n s tate-of-the-art p ractice—and at l east a full y ear o f c linical e xperience in a s chool a ssociated w ith the u niversity. T hese m odel s chools a re i ntended t o

“Today the Finnish teaching profession is on par with other professional workers.” Finland, and assessment is used to cultivate students’ active learning skills by asking open-ended questions and helping students address them. In a Finnish classroom, it is rare to see a teacher standing a t t he f ront of a c lassroom l ecturing s tudents f or 5 0 minutes. Instead, students are likely to determine their own weekly t argets w ith t heir t eachers i n s pecific s ubject areas and choose the tasks they will work on at their own pace. In a t ypical c lassroom, s tudents a re lik ely t o b e w alking around, rotating through workshops or gathering information, a sking q uestions o f t heir t eacher, a nd w orking w ith other s tudents i n s mall gr oups. T hey m ay b e co mpleting independent o r g roup p rojects o r w riting a rticles f or t heir own magazine. The cultivation of independence and active learning a llows s tudents t o d evelop m etacognitive s kills that help them to frame, tackle, and solve problems; evaluate and improve their own work; and guide their learning processes in productive ways.

Improving Teaching Greater investments in teacher education began in the 1970s with the expectation that teachers would move from threeyear normal school programs to four- to five-year programs of study. During the 1990s, the country overhauled preparation o nce a gain t o f ocus m ore o n t eaching d iverse l earners higher-order skills like problem-solving and critical thinking 34 neatoday


develop and model innovative practices, as well as to foster research o n l earning a nd t eaching. Teachers a re t rained i n research m ethods s o th at th ey c an “ contribute to a n increase o f t he p roblem-solving c apacity o f t he ed ucation system.” Within th ese m odel s chools, s tudent te achers p articipate i n p roblem-solving g roups, a c ommon f eature i n Finnish s chools. T he p roblem-solving g roups e ngage i n a cycle of planning, action, and reflection/evaluation that is reinforced t hroughout t he t eacher e ducation p rogram a nd is, in fact, a model for what teachers will plan for their own students, who are expected to incorporate similar kinds of research a nd i nquiry i n t heir o wn s tudies. I ndeed, t he entire s ystem i s i ntended t o i mprove t hrough c ontinual reflection, e valuation, a nd p roblem-solving a t t he le vel o f the classroom, school, municipality, and nation. Teachers l earn h ow t o create c hallenging c urriculum and how to develop and evaluate local performance assessments t hat e ngage s tudents i n r esearch a nd i nquiry o n a regular basis. Teacher training emphasizes learning how to teach students who learn in different ways, including those with special needs. It includes a strong emphasis on “multiculturality” and the “prevention of learning difficulties and exclusion,” a s w ell a s o n t he u nderstanding of l earning, thoughtful assessment, a nd c urriculum d evelopment. T he egalitarian Finns reasoned that if teachers learn to help students w ho s truggle, th ey w ill b e a ble to te ach a ll s tudents PHOTOS, OPPOSITE: TOP: TOM GILBERT; BOTTOM: R. C. PETERS

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alking into a preschool in Shanghai, I saw more small Legos and unit blocks than I’ve ever seen in my life. But in a Japanese preschool, I saw no small building toys—everything was designed to be used by at least two children working together. Around the world, a visitor can see many different ways to organize, fund, and run preschools. Developed countries differ markedly in the way they care for and educate young children, and in the extent of government support. These national policies have a significant impact on children’s later success in school. A 2006 analysis of data from the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMMS) found that increased government spending for preschool pays off in higher fourth grade test scores in math and science. Another study found that as preschool participation moves toward being universal, middle school test scores go up and inequality in test scores goes down. These findings are consistent with a large body of research, here and abroad, indicating that highquality early care and education can improve children’s long-term cognitive development and school success. But a recent United States study of Head Start makes clear that not all preschool programs are created equal. One year in a part-time program staffed by inadequately paid teachers with widely varying qualifications has little permanent impact on children’s learning. The best programs around the world offer every child a preschool education taught by well-prepared teachers. Few American states even come close. Many countries, including France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, provide universal preschool


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beginning at age three, and support quality childcare for children under three. England provides universal access to pre-K at age four. The Nordic countries have some of the most extensive public supports for early care and education. Finland provides an unconditional right to full-day, full-year childcare from the end of paid parental leave through entry to elementary school. Finnish parents pay fees that cover about 15 percent of the




Our lack of quality schools for small children has big consequences. BY S TE VEN B ARNE T T

cost. Fees are paid on a sliding scale with income, with the maximum payment for the highest income families at about $250 per month. Sweden has a similarly extensive system. Other countries also recognize the importance of a child’s life outside school. In Finland, for example, social welfare programs reduce the child poverty rate from nearly 20 percent to just three percent. Government policies in the United States reduce child poverty much less, from about 26 percent to 22 percent.

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The United States has fallen behind world-leading standards for early education. If we are to catch up, we must invest in high-quality educational programs for all our young children. The United States invests far too little, and the teaching standards set by the federal and many state governments are far too low. The federal Head Start program was a wonderful idea in 1965, but it needs to be revamped. Head Start teachers earn only about half of what teachers earn in the public schools. In some classrooms, excellent teachers skillfully weave explicit instruction, exploration, dramatic play, and games into complex activities that enhance children’s learning and development. In others, children are overly regimented, bored, or aimless much of the time. Increasingly, public education starts at age four (in a few places even at age three). Yet Head Start remains completely independent of public education. Imagine if the federal government ran independent first grades for children in poverty— what a mess that would be! Well, that is essentially today’s Head Start problem. Fortunately, all but four states now have early–learning advisory committees that will be federally funded to take on this and other issues of early childhood coordination and improvement. We can fix the Head Start problem and improve childcare if we are willing to learn from the best that the rest of the world has to offer to increase access, quality, and effectiveness. Steven Barnett is a professor and Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. Visit for links to the studies cited in this article and NIEER’s extensive research, including an annual report on preschool in every state in America.


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more effectively and, indeed, leave no child behind. Most t eachers n ow h old m aster’s d egrees i n b oth t heir content area and in education, and they are well prepared to t each d iverse l earners—including s pecial-needs s tudents—for d eep u nderstanding, a nd t o u se f ormative p erformance a ssessments on a r egular b asis to i nform t heir teaching s o i t m eets s tudents’ n eeds. Teachers a re w ell trained both in research methods and in pedagogical practice. C onsequently, t hey a re s ophisticated d iagnosticians, and t hey w ork t ogether c ollegially t o d esign in struction that meets the demands of the subject matter as well as the needs of their students. In F inland, l ike o ther hi gh-achieving na tions, s chools provide t ime f or r egular c ollaboration a mong t eachers on issues o f i nstruction. Teachers i n F innish s chools m eet a t least one afternoon each week to jointly plan and develop

and analyze the impact of implemented procedures. The f ocus o n i nstruction a nd t he d evelopment o f p rofessional p ractice i n F inland’s a pproach t o o rganizing t he education s ystem h as l ed, a ccording t o a ll r eports, t o a n increased p revalence o f ef fective t eaching m ethods i n schools. F urthermore, e fforts t o e nable s chools t o l earn from each other have led to “lateral capacity building”: the widespread a doption o f ef fective p ractices a nd ex perimentation w ith i nnovative a pproaches a cross th e s ystem, “encouraging t eachers a nd s chools t o c ontinue t o e xpand their r epertoires o f t eaching m ethods a nd in dividualizing teaching to meet the needs of all students.” A Finnish official noted this key lesson learned from the reforms that allowed Finland to climb from an inequitable, mediocre education system to the very top of the international rankings:

“There are no external standardized tests used to rank students or schools in Finland.” curriculum, a nd s chools in t he s ame m unicipality a re encouraged t o w ork t ogether t o s hare m aterials. T ime i s also p rovided f or p rofessional d evelopment w ithin t he teachers’ workweek. As is true in many other European and Asian na tions, ne arly ha lf o f t eachers’ s chool t ime i s u sed to h one p ractice t hrough s chool-based c urriculum w ork, collective p lanning, a nd co operation w ith p arents, w hich allows s chools a nd f amilies t o w ork mor e c losely t ogether on behalf of students. The result is that: Finnish t eachers a re c onscious, c ritical c onsumers o f professional d evelopment a nd in service training s ervices. Just as the professional level of the teaching cadre has i ncreased o ver t he p ast t wo d ecades, so h as t he quality o f t eacher p rofessional d evelopment s upport. Most c ompulsory, t raditional inservice t raining h as disappeared. I n it s p lace a re s chool- o r m unicipalitybased longer term programs and professional development op portunities. C ontinuous u pgrading of teachers’ p edagogical p rofessionalism h as b ecome a right rather than an obligation. This shift in teachers’ learning conditions and styles often reflects ways that classroom le arning is a rranged f or p upils. A s a c onsequence o f s trengthened professionalism i n s chools, i t has become understood that teachers and schools are responsible f or t heir ow n w ork a nd a lso s olve mos t problems rather than shift them elsewhere. Today the Finnish teaching profession is on a par with other professional w orkers; t eachers c an d iagnose p roblems i n their c lassrooms a nd sc hools, a pply e vidence-based and often alternative solutions to them, and evaluate 36 neatoday


Empowerment of t he t eaching p rofession p roduces good results. Professional teachers should have space for i nnovation, b ecause t hey s hould t ry t o f ind ne w ways t o i mprove l earning. Teachers s hould n ot b e seen a s t echnicians w hose w ork i s t o i mplement strictly d ictated s yllabi, b ut r ather a s p rofessionals who k now h ow t o im prove le arning f or a ll. A ll t his creates a b ig ch allenge . . . t hat ce rtainly ca lls f or changes in teacher education programs. Teachers are ranked h ighest i n i mportance, b ecause ed ucational systems work through them. Finland ha s u ndertaken t hese e lements i n a s ystemic fashion, r ather t han p ouring e nergy into a p otpourri o f innovations a nd t hen c hanging c ourse e very f ew y ears, a s has o ften b een t he c ase i n m any c ommunities i n t he United States, especially in large cities. And while this small nation has conducted this work on a national level, similar strategies h ave b een em ployed a t t he s tate o r p rovincial level in h igh-scoring A ustralia, N ew Z ealand, a nd C anada, and p rovinces l ike H ong Ko ng a nd M acao i n C hina, a lso with positive outcomes. They d emonstrate h ow i t i s p ossible t o b uild a sy stem in w hich s tudents a re r outinely t aught b y w ell-prepared teachers w ho w ork to gether to c reate a th oughtful, h ighquality curriculum, supported by appropriate materials and assessments t hat en able o ngoing l earning f or s tudents, teachers, and schools alike. Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University.

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marketplace TOURS


WE BUY USED CELL PHONES & pay up to $100 for each phone! Some phones have no value. See current purchase price list for individual model prices at

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Visit the best of both Northern and Southern Ireland starting in Dublin with your city tour including Trinity College (housing the Book of Kelts), Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Cork, Blarney Castle, Killarnay (boat cruise), Kenmare, and Tralee. Drive the “Ring of Kerry�, tour the restored Guiness Mansion, and Bunratty Castle, built in 1425. Visit the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Connemara, Sligo and the Bundoran area, plus Enniskillen, Ulster, Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Travel with other Teachers departing July 11, 2011

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Seminar in Washington, DC, Israel, Germany and Poland for 20 days, July 6-25, 2011. This acclaimed seminar is for secondary school teachers who implement Holocaust studies in their classrooms. Our group visits historic sites, and hears from survivors and prominent scholars. Teachers pay $3,000 for roundtrip travel from Washington, DC, all hotels (shared rooms), bus transportation and two meals daily. Sponsored by the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Jewish Labor Committee, with support from the Atran Foundation, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.


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Stirring it up in the name of public education. ake a heaping cup of concern for public education and mix well with the tools of political advocacy: your phone, your feet, and your voice. It’s a foolproof recipe for electing politicians who care about public education. With the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act on the horizon in Congress, and countless states still cutting school budgets and staffs, it’s never been more important for NEA members to get in the mix. The people who sit in state capitols and Congress have a great deal of influence over your lives—how you teach and whether you get paid fairly to do it. “Sometimes I hear people say, ‘Oh, but I’m not political. I’m an educator!’” says Lee Schreiner, a politically active


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Ohio teacher. “And I say, ‘Bull! Name one thing in your job that isn’t political.’” How many kids are sitting in your classroom? How many hours do you spend with them? How often do you test them? What exactly do you test? Or teach? Do you have the assistance of an aide? Is your classroom clean and safe? Or take a taste of this: Are you paid like you deserve? If you don’t like the answers, if politics as usual have left a bad taste in your mouth, then turn up the heat. Follow in the steps of your colleagues who have been phoning, emailing, knocking on doors, and donating money to the NEA Fund for Public Education. Here are their recipes for success.


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recipe for those of us who care deeply, but have zero time to invest in advocacy. INGREDIENTS NEEDED:

One (1) Computer One (1) Dollar 1. Visit 2. Make a donation, as big as you like. 3. Help elect pro-public education candidates!

COOK’S NOTES: The NEA Fund for Children & Public Education gladly receives donations from NEA members—it never uses dues dollars. In turn, it gives that money to candidates who have interviewed and earned the recommendation of local panels of NEA members. Lee Schreiner, a Fund captain in Ohio, tells this story: His state’s education committee used to meet at the Capitol at 3:30 p.m.—not exactly an ideal time for teachers. But Schreiner would race onto the highway as soon as the buses departed his school and get there just in

time to observe the kind of policymaking that really impacts educators. “One day they were voting on an education issue—funding for a program called Ohio Reads—and three of the [state legislators] that I knew looked right at me with this confused, ‘I don’t know what to do’ look and gave me a thumbs-up, thumbs-down signal. I gave them the thumbs-up vote and it passed by one vote,” Schreiner recalls. He knew right then that political activism by educators does actually reap the kinds of programs and policies that improve learning.



COOK’S NOTES: Are you a

colleague is like the baker’s equivalent of a boxed cake mix. You can’t mess it up— and the results are sweet indeed.

novice cook? Well, rest assured that this is not an exercise in improvisation. At any phone bank, you’ll get a handy script that spells out your end of the conversation, says Laurie Vasquez, a fourthgrade teacher from Valencia County with thousands of successful calls under her belt. “When people understand that they’re not going to have to… remember what to say, it’s much less intimidating,” Vasquez said. Also, who’s a stranger? Somebody you haven’t met yet! When you phone bank for your Association, you’re talking to


One (1) Phone One (1) Script One (1) Smile—they can feel it through the phone line! 1. Pick up the phone. 2. Pick up the script. 3. Go for it!



colleagues, having conversations about stuff that really matters—and it is a ton of fun, promises Monica Mixon, a classroom aide from Pennsylvania. “Get past the fear of thinking you’re going to say the wrong thing or that somebody’s going to tell you something you don’t want to hear. When you don’t agree, you just say, ‘I respect that, I really do respect that.’” And, this year, it’s easier than ever. In addition to phone banks hosted by local Associations, you can visit the virtual phone bank at educationvotes. and make calls from your comfy couch!


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So when you have the ears of friends, family, and colleagues, tell them about the candidates and issues that matter. INGREDIENTS NEEDED:

A few minutes Some solid information The respect of your colleagues LAURA QUEEN, a mid-

dle-school teacher in Jefferson County, Colorado, can’t even count the number of

potentially catastrophic initiatives on Colorado ballots in recent years. Any one of them could have gutted public education and opportunities for kids. With so much on the line, Queen isn’t the type to sit and do nothing—and she doesn’t want her colleagues to kick back either. So she talks to them, sharing information in the few minutes before school or during lunch. And these conversations can be

hugely influential, if you keep a few points in mind. First, “try not to get caught up in the rhetoric,” she advises. “It’s more about sharing information.” Second, try to measure what your audience cares about: is it technology, class size, pension funds? And provide them with the most pertinent research. Often her colleagues will tell her, “Wow! Now I understand why you’re so passionate [about this issue]. I’ll pass it on!”


help elect pro-public education candidates, but you can burn a few calories too. INGREDIENTS NEEDED:

One (1) “walk list” One (1) pair of walking shoes One (1) or more bottles of water One (1) walking buddy Sunscreen, as needed


KATHY PORTER, an elementary school teacher in Las Cruces, New Mexico, has been knocking on doors for

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20-plus years. She’s probably been to 90 percent of the houses in her district and met thousands of hospitable folks. “When I go to the door and say, ‘I’m a teacher and I’m out working for people who support our kids because I believe in them,” I’d say 99 percent of people are responsive,” Porter says. “People really appreciate the effort.” Walkers are provided with a list of addresses from their local Association, as well as talking points about the candidate. “It’s very important to be able to answer truthfully,” Porter says.

Her favorite neighborhoods are the poorer ones, she says, “where we have what we call ‘reluctant voters.’ You meet so many people who will say, ‘Anything for our children!’ and they’re so grateful you’re a teacher. It’s very rewarding.” A face-to-face visit can be enormously influential to the voter, but it’s also a great deal for the volunteer, Porter says. “There’s fresh air and it’s nice to be outside,” she says. “And what else are you going to do on a Saturday morning? You might be stuck with housework—and isn’t this a good way to put it off?”


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2 MONEY! The $10 billion Education Jobs Fund that passed Congress in August—due to the persistence of NEA members and our pro-public education friends in Congress—doesn’t solve all of our funding woes. Not by a long shot. Class sizes are still too large and educators are still spending far too much of their own cash to support their classrooms. It boggles the mind that the richest nation on Earth can’t afford pencils for public schools, and frankly, we think it’s a matter of priorities. So consider this: Who will put education at the top of their list? Vote for them.

3 COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY 1 NCLB More testing? No thanks. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child Left Behind, is up for reauthorization this year. Finally! Here’s a chance to move Congress away from its current test-andpunish approach and toward policies that actually promote teaching and learning. We know it’s going to take a strong, unified effort by NEA and its members, plus pro-public education candidates who will actually listen to the people who know best. “Teachers don’t like to be political, but I’m realizing if we’re going to teach we need to be political,” wrote Washington teacher Jane Watson on an NEA NCLB discussion board. Right on.

Great strides have been made toward college affordability in the past year, including more money for Pell Grants and greater availability of low-interest student loans through direct-lending federal programs. But still more work needs to be done. Every year, increasing numbers of graduates owe more than $20,000. “I owe about $85,000 in student loans,” New York teacher Audrey Padilla told NEA. “Although I’m trying to be optimistic, positive thinking can only take you so far. I wish members of Congress could see the unfortunate situation that many of our nation’s teachers are facing… .” And do something about it!


4 YOUR RETIREMENT When you go to vote this November, think about Betty Porrazzo. More than 40 years after her husband was killed in Vietnam, Porrazzo is still struggling to get her rightful Social Security survivor benefits. Why? Because of two little-known offsets (GPO and WEP) that cut benefits to public employees. Fixing them remains a priority of the NEA—as does protecting state pension systems, which are under attack across the country. This is money that you were promised, that you earned, and that you need for a secure retirement. When you go to the polls in November, think about who will protect your retirement and keep those promises.

5 UNION POWER Strength in numbers! Alone, none of us has much of a chance of convincing any politician that early childhood education programs should be better funded, or privatization of support services is a really terrible idea. But when union members get together, get organized, and provide a strong, unified voice, we get it done! Just look at the Education Jobs Bill, which provided $10 billion to rehire laid-off teachers. That was because of you. Because you lent your collective voice and weight to an issue that really mattered. Learn more about the issues that really matter in this election—and post-election—at


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What do you do for

Halloween in school?


teach fourth- and fifth-graders science. I use Halloween week to review plant life cycles using the pumpkin and cacao plants. We also read and write about the process of making chocolate from bean to the sweet treats we all know and love!

We do a lot with pumpkins in my first-grade classroom. Each team has a pumpkin. First we line them up biggest to smallest. Then we make predictions as to which has the most seeds. Each group digs out their seeds and makes a plan for counting them (5s, 10s, etc.). Then we graph them, measure the pumpkins, plant the seeds. Lots of fun. ASHLEY BEC TON L ATHAM

Burlington, North Carolina



y kindergarten class had a “Storybook Character Parade.” The kids dressed like their favorite storybook character and carried the book with them. All the other classes lined the halls and all the parents came. I was “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.” K AYDONNA WOLFC ALE

Amarillo, Texas


teach high school German so we talk about Germany’s twist on Halloween, go “shopping” for costumes on German websites, and check out the German castles online that are turned into haunted houses. BRIT TNEY HRUSKOC Y DEL ARIVA

Dyer, Indiana


ur principal does not allow it. Takes away from learning time, she says. We used to do a parade or dress up as your favorite book character, but no more. It’s all about test scores. CONSTANTINA POSSIDON

Palm Desert, California

Caption This No, we didn’t forget to run the caption! Join hundreds of other readers who have been flexing their funnybones at caption. Provide your own captions and peruse the best from your colleagues.

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GET MORE TEACHER-TESTED TIPS! is our classroom tips website. Sign up for a weekly e-newsletter, browse 1,800+ tips, submit your own, ask questions, and connect with other educators. It works!


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ORDER IN THE HALLS Can—and should—kids pass silently? DENISE ASKS:

ow can I get my fifth-graders to comply with the demands of school personnel who want children to walk single file with zero noise? It just doesn’t happen. Body parts jump and wiggle, girls buddy up and talk, some students run.


KATE ORTIZ: I dealt with this issue frequently with seventhgraders. I made it clear [that] agreement with the rule is not required, but compliance is. When someone was not complying, I moved to them or said their name and signaled for them to stop. If they didn’t, I moved them to the end of the line. Frequent noncompliance meant placement next to me or at the end for a given number of hallway trips. If too many were noncompliant, we practiced. I found these methods successful, even though kids sometimes needed reminders because they are kids. But zero noise sounds unreasonable to me. My teaching team sometimes changed our single-file passing rule to two together with quiet voices, which worked much better. We realized we generally walked down the hallways that way ourselves! CHRISTINE: I, too, fought

for years trying to make my 35 10-year-olds meet the admin’s demands for walking in lines, but I finally refused. I told my principal single-file lines were not a good idea with 35 students. I offered him three lines, arm’s length apart, with speciallytrained line leaders. I promised the lines would be quiet and I worked with my kids until they were. We don’t have that single-file rule anymore.

KATE S: My administrators think our hallways are fine, but our 800 kids run around like gorillas during passing periods. Be thankful you have someone in charge who wants a safe system for moving in the halls. I’ve had limited success with Follow the Leader on the way to our destination: If I hop, they hop, etc. Since I change moves quickly, they have to pay attention. It does give them their chance to wiggle.

TRACY: Keeping silent for the 45 seconds students are in the hallway is not unreasonable. I am a fifthgrade teacher and this has always been my policy. It teaches students to be considerate. Often when we are passing, other classes are in session. I explain my expectations and, yes, we practice at the beginning of the year—and again if I feel my lines are falling apart. I do not yell. I simply say, “Oops, let’s do that again.” Often, the excitement stems from eagerness to get where they are going. Since they are anxious to get there, they shape up quickly. For older students, you can also reason with them, explaining the distraction to other students currently in class.

LISA: My students are not

perfect and I don’t expect them to be. Sometimes they talk to me, and sometimes I talk to them—it

happens. But because of my expectations for them, they are not yelling, running, or even talking to those in front or in back of them. I don’t practice walking in the hallway, I think it’s a waste. I’ve seen it done too many times by others, and nothing changes. I ask for silence. Do I always get it? No. Do I get it most of the time? Yes. My principal also reinforces the quiet line with praise—they love that!

ROBERT: I like an orderly school as much as anyone, but the idea of a silent, single line kind of scares me. I have seen photos of young Nazis and young Communists, and they were very orderly. We are a country that celebrates freedom. Students need the freedom to socialize and have a bit of fun as they move between classes. The challenge is to teach them a sensible limit.

HELP NEA’s classroom management advice column

Kate Ortiz, a teacher and classroom management expert from Chariton, Iowa, responds to every question posted online within 24 hours and many other colleagues contribute, too.

See the full forum, post your own problem (create a new topic), and get help! GO TO NEA.ORG/HELP OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2010

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try this THE NEW PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCE Educators innovate to make a venerable tradition work better. BY A LAIN J EHLEN

tudent-led parent-teacher conferences seem to be taking the nation by storm, according to our totally non-random survey of NEA members on Facebook, discussion boards, and various email lists. Are you using your kids to get to their parents? Visit to take our poll and get a better idea of how widespread this innovation has become. “Many years ago, I began to use student-led conferences in my kindergarten class,” says Carole Moyer of Columbus, Ohio. “With the students ‘writing’ a letter to their parents inviting them to the conference [and] sitting in the ‘teacher’ chair to conduct the conference, they were a great success. It was so rewarding to see special education students be as successful in conducting the conference as the typical students.” North Carolina first-grade teacher Michelle Wise Capen gives her students a check sheet to go over with their parents, to be sure her student-led conferences cover all the bases. “Students enjoy showing the parents what they have accomplished,” she says. “This has worked for me K–5.” And at the middle school level, Kate Ortiz of Charlton, Iowa, reports attendance jumped when student-led conferences began at her school. “Students prepare folders of work, comments, etc. for each of their core classes, with documentation from band, special education, standardized testing, their grade and attendance report, etc. They are taught how to share this information with parents [and] how to seek teacher help during the conference if needed. “For the first several years, we asked students and teachers to complete a brief survey after their conferences, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Parents can choose to schedule a traditional conference, but very few take that option.”


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Even among teachers who don’t have students lead the discussion, many encourage parents to bring their kids along and take part. But students aren’t the only innovative lures educators are using to reel parents into school for conferences. NEA members are also using...

HIGH TECHNOLOGY, BRIBES, AND A TRULY NEW IDEA— INVITATIONS! One high-tech idea comes from Lori Trisler, who had her fifth-grade students create PowerPoints about what they had learned to show their parents at the conference. Okay, maybe PowerPoint isn’t that cutting edge, but it’s still not your grandmother’s parent-teacher conference. And Trisler says every parent showed up. Can’t beat that. The bribes are of many sorts. Trina Dickerson of South Carolina awards participation points to her middle school students if their parents show


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up for a conference. She says the points are a powerful motivator for her students. (If a parent can’t come, the student can still get the points if the parent sends her an email or a note.) Dickerson combines point motivation with the student-led approach: Students must tell their parents three specific things they’ve learned in class. “Our team always has the highest participation at our middle school!” she crows. Then there’s food. High school language arts teacher Kristina Lorett points out that parents of high school students are extra hard to attract to parent-teacher conferences. So, she says, “I try to ‘sweeten’ the experience. My first parent-teacher conference, I offered a dessert bar. I was a big hit!” To make sure everybody left happy, in her spring parent conferences, she offered a parting gift of Easter eggs stuffed with jelly beans and inspirational quotes, or a basket of apples. “Bribery works!” she reports. But Lorett also uses a lure that works even better than sweets: a personal invitation. “So many [parents] came in and said they had several children in the school system and they had never been ‘invited’ to a P/T conference. I was shocked!” Then there’s Lisa Mims of Newark, Delaware, who uses high-tech, bribes, and personal invitations all wrapped together: “I send home student-made invitations with a raffle ticket stuck inside. I raffle items that I have purchased from the Dollar Store or that I have received from Teacher Appreciation Day events. The students cannot participate in the raffle if their parents do not attend, so I have a good turnout every year. Once the parents are there, I use a PowerPoint presentation that incorporates pictures of their children. I end with a digital story of their students at work and play. They love i t!”

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Go To Them How many times have you noticed that the parents you really need to see are the ones least likely to show up? Some educators are not waiting for parents to come to them—they’re going out to meet parents on their own turf, at their homes or at coffee houses. It takes more time, but it does get results, even with parents who are traditionally the hardest to reach. Katie DeBartolo works at an alternative secondary school in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that has many special education students. “We never had a lot of luck getting parents to come in, so we buddied up and went to see them. Wow, what an experience! And what a way to place a picture of that child’s life in your mind. The parents were very receptive to this, especially since most did not have rides or transportation, or just had a fear of school,” she says. Home visits seem to be getting more popular, although they’re probably not nearly as common as student-led conferences—at least, according to the NEA members who contacted us. We reported on one parent visit program that’s being copied around the country in August 2009. That report is online at

Lisa Mims (right) uses everything from raffle tickets to digital storytelling to lure parents. ILLUSTRATION: DAVID CLARK; PHOTO: HARRY A. BROWN JR.


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A VOTER’S GUIDE TO THE 2010 ELECTION On November 2, Vote for Candidates Who Support Children & Public Education The SCEA encourages all members to familiarize themselves with the candidates running for office in their districts. This voter’s guide identifies those candidates who have a voting record and/or positions in support of public education and the children of South Carolina. The selection process is a fair and open one. The SCEA sends all candidates from both parties a questionnaire regarding their positions on issues important to the members of the SCEA. The Association then invites federal and statewide candidates to be interviewed by The SCEA’s Statewide Steering Committee; it invites candidates for the S.C. House of Representatives to be interviewed by a committee composed of representatives from the local education Associations from the candidate’s district. After considering a candidate’s questionnaire, voting record, and interview, the Statewide Steering Committee recommends federal and statewide candidates to the SCEA Fund for Children and Public Education Council. The Fund Council then recommends the statewide candidates to delegates of the SCEA Representative Assembly, or RA, for concurrence, and it recommends federal candidates to the National Education Association’s Fund for Children and Public Education for its recommendation. The local association committees that consider candidates for the S.C. House of Representatives make their recommendations to the SCEA Fund Council for concurrence. On August 21, 2010, The SCEA Fund Council recommended two candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives to the NEA Fund. The NEA Fund will consider those recommendations and take a vote after this publication has gone to press. Those candidates are: Rob Miller–D (CD 2) includes all of Lexington, Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Allendale, and Barnwell counties; almost all of Richland County and parts of Aiken, Calhoun, and Orangeburg counties. Rob Miller is challenging incumbent Joe Wilson, who embarrassed S.C. during President Obama’s first State of the Union speech. Jane Dyer –D (CD 3) includes all of Abbeville, Anderson, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Oconee, Pickens and Saluda counties and approximately half of Aiken county. This is an open seat. Jane Dyer’s opponent is former S.C. Rep. Jeff Duncan. The list of candidates recommended by The SCEA for S.C. offices below is complete as of August 23, 2010, but additional recommendations may have been made after this publication went to print. Please check for a complete list of recommendations. Friendly Incumbents–These candidates have been previously recommended by The SCEA and have maintained a voting record that supports positions of the SCEA a great majority of the time. Supportive Incumbents–These candidates are being recommended by The SCEA for the first time and hold a voting record that supports positions of the SCEA a majority of the time. The SCEA Recommended Candidates for Statewide Offices All recommended candidates hold positions that support children and public education. Governor Vincent Sheheen –D (Challenger) Superintendent of Education Frank Holleman –D (Challenger) Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom –R (Incumbent) Attorney General Matthew Richardson –D (Challenger) Friendly Incumbents Recommended for the U.S. House of Representatives Friendly incumbents have been previously recommended by the SCEA and have maintained a voting record that supports positions of the SCEA a great majority of the time. The SCEA Fund Council recommended both candidates below to the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education, which voted to recommend them. John Spratt – D (CD-5) includes all or part of Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Fairfield, Florence (part), Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee (part), Marlboro, Newberry, Sumter (part), and York counties. Mr. Spratt has been targeted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. James E. Clyburn –D (CD 6) The district’s geographic boundaries extend from the center of the state in Columbia, east to Marion County, and south to Colleton County, and then northwest to Columbia. As Majority Whip, Mr. Clyburn is the third most powerful member of the House.

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Challengers Recommended for the South Carolina House of Representatives All recommended challengers have positions that support children and public education. Mary Bernsdorff - D, HLD-45 Lancaster & York Cos. Tommy Pope –R, HLD-47 York Co. Sheila C. Gallagher –D, HLD 63 Florence Co. Pete Oliver –D, HLD-87 Lexington Co. Friendly Incumbents Recommended for the South Carolina House of Representatives Friendly Incumbents have been previously recommended by the SCEA and have maintained a voting record that supports positions of the SCEA a great majority of the time. Rep. Ann Parks- D, HLD-12 Greenwood & McCormick Cos. Rep. Boyd Brown –D, HLD-41 Chester & Fairfield Cos. Rep. Michael Anthony - D, HLD-42 Spartanburg & Union Cos. Rep. Jimmy Neal - D, HLD-44 Lancaster Co. Rep. John King - D, HLD- 49 York Co. Rep. Grady Brown –D, HLD-50 Lee & Sumter Cos. Rep. Jackie Hayes –D, HLD-55 Dillon & Horry Cos. Rep. Lester Branham –D, HLD-61 Florence Co. Rep. Jimmy Bales–D, HLD-80 Richland Co. Rep. Lonnie Hosey - D, HLD- 91 Allendale & Barnwell Cos. Rep. Harry Ott - D, HLD- 93 Calhoun, Lexington & Orangeburg Cos. Rep. Jerry Govan–D, HLD-95 Orangeburg Co. Rep. Joe Jefferson - D, HLD-102 Berkeley Co. Rep. Vida Miller - D, HLD-108 Charleston & Georgetown Cos. Rep. Robert Brown – D, HLD-116 Charleston & Colleton Cos. Rep. Bill Bowers - D, HLD-120 Colleton & Hampton Cos. Supportive Incumbents Recommended for the South Carolina House of Representatives These candidates are being recommended by the SCEA for the first time and hold a voting record that supports positions of the SCEA a majority of the time. Rep. Harold Mitchell - D, HLD-31 Spartanburg Co. Rep. David Weeks - D, HLD-51 Sumter Co. Rep. Laurie Funderburk - D, HLD-52 Kershaw Co. Rep. Ted Vick - D, HLD-53 Chesterfield Co. Rep. Jim Battle - D, HLD-57 Marion Co. Rep. Terry Alexander - D, HLD-59 Florence & Marion Cos. Rep. Robert Williams - D, HLD-62 Darlington & Florence Cos. Rep. Thad Viers-R, HLD-68 Horry Co. Rep. Joe McEachern - D, HLD-77 Richland Co. Rep. Roland Smith, HLD-84 Aiken Co. Rep. Bakari Sellers - D, HLD- 90 Bamberg, Barnwell & Orangeburg Cos. Rep. Ronnie Saab–D, HLD-101 Williamsburg Co. Rep. Carl Anderson - D, HLD-103 Georgetown & Williamsburg Cos. Rep. Ken Hodges - D, HLD-121 Beaufort & Colleton Cos. Rep. Curtis Brantley - D, HLD-122 Beaufort, Hampton & Jasper Cos. Key D= Democrat R= Republican CD= Congressional District HLD= House Legislative District Bold=Major geographic area




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INSIDE THE BIG OFFICE How well do you know your principal? Probably not very, because most likely you haven’t been working together long. A recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics looked at mobility rates among public school principals—an overlooked stat compared to oft-cited teacher retention rates—and found that 20 percent will leave their school this year.

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* To qualify for the first $25 statement credit, your new account must be used to make any combination of purchase, balance transfer or cash advance transactions totaling at least $75 (exclusive of any transaction fees, returns and adjustments) that post to your account within 45 days of the account open date. To qualify for the additional $25 statement credit, you must make your first Cash Rewards redemption within 12 months of the account open date. Each $25 credit will appear on your credit card statement within 8-12 weeks after qualifying. Limit one (1) $50 combined statement credit per new account. The NEA Credit Card offer is subject to application approval by Bank of America. ♦

Earn Cash Rewards of 1% of new net retail purchase transactions (qualifying purchases less credits, returns, and adjustments) charged to the card each billing cycle. Fractions are truncated at the 100th decimal place, and are subject to verification. Balance Transfers, cash advances, including purchases of money orders or other cash equivalents, out-of-network payments made through the Bill Pay Choice® service, any bill payments made through online banking, purchases made by or for a business or for a business purpose, fees, interest charges, unauthorized/fraudulent transactions and certain other charges do not earn Cash Rewards. Earn unlimited Cash Rewards. There is no annual cap on rewards redemption. Cash Rewards are valid for 5 years. If you redeem $300 or more in Cash Rewards in one redemption request, you will receive a redemption bonus equal to 25% of the amount redeemed. Cash Rewards shall be issued for a U.S. dollar sum in the form of a statement credit, check, an electronic deposit to a checking or savings account of your choice or a payment on a mortgage loan serviced by Bank of America, N.A. or BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP (reverse mortgages are not eligible). Cash Rewards may be requested on demand, or by registering for the automatic reward redemption method of choice, as described in more detail in the Program Rules. To obtain Cash Rewards or register for automatic reward redemption, go to or call the number on the back of your card. Receipt of a statement credit does not affect your responsibility to pay your minimum monthly payment. Cash Rewards checks expire 90 days after date of issue. Cash Rewards may not be combined with other discount or reward programs, unless specifically authorized by FIA Card Services, N.A. Other significant terms apply. Program subject to change. For more information, visit www.bankofamerica. com/neacashrewards. Details accompany new account materials. NEA.BAC.CR.0410


♦For ♦♦ the first six months following the opening of your account, you will earn 3% of new net retail purchase transactions (consisting of 2% Bonus Rewards and 1% Base Rewards) made with the card at any eligible gas, grocery and drugstore merchant. To be eligible for Bonus Rewards, your credit card account must be open with charging privileges and purchases must be made at an eligible merchant. Eligible merchants and their associated merchant category codes (“MCC”) are the following: (a) Gas Stations (MCC codes 5541 and 5542); (b) Grocery Stores (MCC codes 5411, 5422, 5441, 5451, 5462, and 5499); and (c) Pharmacy Stores (MCC codes 5122, 5295, 5912). Purchases made at merchants that do not process transactions under these terms will not qualify and you will not receive the Bonus Rewards benefit. Qualifying Bonus Rewards transactions must post to your account within the first six months following the opening of your account. All credit transactions (returns) posted within the first six months following the opening of your account will result in a reduction of Bonus Rewards and Base Rewards for the amount of the transaction. Allow up to 60 days for Bonus Rewards adjustments to appear on your credit card billing statement or online statement. Bank of America reserves the right to verify eligibility of all transactions. BAC.CR.RetailBonus.0609 The NEA Credit Card Program® has been developed for NEA members and their families only. If a member decides not to renew membership, that person and his/her family will no longer be eligible to receive the preferred rates, fees and special promotions offered through the NEA Credit Card Program. If eligible, a replacement card will be offered. This credit card program is issued and administered by FIA Card Services, N.A. Visa and Visa Signature are registered trademarks of Visa International Service Association, and are used by the issuer pursuant to license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Bill Pay Choice is a registered trademark of FIA Card Services, N.A. The NEA Credit Card and NEA Member Benefits logo are service marks of NEA’s Member Benefits Corporation, which are used by the issuer pursuant to license. Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of Bank of America Corporation. The NEA is not involved in the credit decision process; standard credit procedures are followed. All applications are subject to confidential standard review by FIA Card Services, N.A. Absolutely no membership dues are used to market this program. © 2010 Bank of America Corporation (MB)AD-NEATDY6W-1010