Teachers Inaugurate ED’s Summer Seminar Series

Official Department of Education Photo by Paul Wood

On July 14, teachers participated in the first of four Summer Seminars designed to inform teachers about education policy and how they can become involved in the national and local education conversations taking place throughout the nation.

Official Department of Education Photo by Paul Wood

Online and at the Department of Education, teachers learned about the basics of education policy, including the purpose and mission of ED, how education is funded, and how the Department is structured. Additionally, they drilled down on Title I and heard about the factors that determine how Title I dollars are distributed in their state. To view the seminar, review the Power Point presentation, or check out the reading list, visit our Summer Seminar webpage.

The next seminar takes place Thursday, July 28 from 6:00-7:30, both at ED and online.  To participate and receive materials, visit the Summer Seminar Registration Page.

Upcoming seminars Include:

Who’s on First? State and Federal Roles and Responsibilities for Education, Thursday, July 28.
Questions to be answered include:

  • What are the states’ and the federal government’s responsibilities for education?
  • What is the Common Core?
  • What are the primary ED funding streams and competitive programs?
  • What is Race to the Top and how does it support teachers and students?

Fixing What’s Broken in No Child Left Behind, Thursday, August, 11.
Questions to be answered include:

  • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act and No Child Left Behind—same or different?
  • What problems are teachers, schools, and states having with NCLB?
  • In their Blueprint for Reform, what do President Obama and Secretary Duncan propose to do to fix what is not working in NCLB?
  • What does the Blueprint propose with regard to testing?
  • What is the federal School Improvement Grant program for low-performing schools and how might it affect my school or state?

Leading Their Profession: Teachers and Education Policy, Thursday, August 25.
Questions to be answered include:

  • What are ED’s proposals for strengthening teaching and supporting teachers?
  • What does the Blueprint say about teacher evaluations?
  • What can teachers do to get involved in educational issues both at the national level and in their state or district?
  • What are the Teacher Incentive Fund and Title II?


  1. I wish this had been better publicized as I would have planned our family visit to DC to coincide with one of the seminars. In lieu of my attendance, here is my view of NCLB:

    I teach history at a public high school. With every test I include short essay questions that call on the students’ own thoughts and judgements. What I find is that the kids lack the skills to form their own opinions. With emphasis on standardized testing, where everything is based multiple-choice questions, students have come to rely on the fact that the answer is in front of them, rather than having to draw on knowledge obtained on the course. Thus in these essays I routinely get little more that students parroting either what they have heard me say or what they have read in the textbook. Either way, the implications are maddening: that they are either incapable or unwilling to form their own opinions; that they have been conditioned only to respond to answers that are put before them. Creativity and original thought are not only discouraged, but are eliminated from the educational process. This disturbs me greatly, especially since no one ever brings up this most disturbing facet of the preponderance of standardized testing in student (and, just as frightening, teacher) evaluations.

    • I completely agree with you bill. I am a teaching artist for after school programs and an arts integration consultant. What you said in your comment was spot on. I’ve been planning for the new year at the schools I teach at, and plan on implementing the Socratic Method into my arts program for this very reason, I want to engage with my students and show them how to ask questions and critical thought. Your post let me know that I was going in the right direction, so thank you Bill!

      • I just noticed by Typos too, maybe I should teach them editing to, so to teach myself a lesson. LOL!

    • My favorite poem says it all:

      In Broken Images
      by Robert Graves

      He is quick, thinking in clear images;
      I am slow, thinking in broken images.

      He becomes dull, trusting to his clear images;
      I become sharp, mistrusting my broken images,

      Trusting his images, he assumes their relevance;
      Mistrusting my images, I question their relevance.

      Assuming their relevance, he assumes the fact,
      Questioning their relevance, I question the fact.

      When the fact fails him, he questions his senses;
      When the fact fails me, I approve my senses.

      He continues quick and dull in his clear images;
      I continue slow and sharp in my broken images.

      He in a new confusion of his understanding;
      I in a new understanding of my confusion.

    • I also agree with both of you! I have been a teacher in high school for 11 years and I am too familiar with your comments and utterly concern on how to turn the situation around. To expand on your assertion, “that they are either incapable or unwilling to form their own opinions’ I believe they are both: incapable, because we-the educational system-have stopped their thinking process by providing them with a limited set of options, pre-determined one way answers, and negatively reinforced their own opinions and they are also unwilling, because we taught them to sit quietly and wait for us to give them the answers. What incentive there is to actually think, when they have never done it before and have made it through 9, 10 or more years of education???
      My 5 year old (he is now 19th) after only a week in kindergarten cried for 30 minutes because I suggested an alternative to the clearly defined set of rules the teacher handed for the project “all about me.” In one week the teachers and the system managed to teach him that it was not “good” to think for himself!!!

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