First impressions can be deceiving.
Headed into my tenure as a 2011 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow, my understanding of the U.S. Department of Education was vague at best.
What I did know was that we have problems in education, and I believed that the current administration isn’t helping to solve those problems.
That was last Monday.
After more than a week at ED, I can tell you that my initial assumptions have shifted.
In the brief week that I have been here, I have gained some insight into the way ED works and the policies that President Obama and his administration are pushing to achieve reform.
The Fellowship was created to gather a small group of teachers in Washington and others around the country to advise the administration about how policies relate to the classroom. Initially, I worried that we would be trotted around the country to promote the Department’s policies, regardless of whether we agreed with them or not. I came to discover, however, that we have been asked to join ED because the people who make the policies want teachers in the building to foster a creative and meaningful dialogue. And though I come equipped with experience gained from Twinbrook Elementary School, Secretary Duncan wants me here to represent all teachers.
That’s a massive task and an awesome responsibility. Fortunately, I am not alone. I can count on working with other Fellows, past and present, who are spread around the country and represent a wide swath of American teachers. I know that we will engage in healthy and lively debate as we participate.
I still have much to learn. But I know that I am not here to get in line with the current policies unless I believe they are best for American education. I am not here to be a politician; I am here to be a teacher.
Greg Mullenholz is a teacher and instructional coach at Twinbrook Elementary School in Rockville, Md. and a 2011-2012 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow.