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Teacher-to-Teacher Summer Workshop

Ohanian Comment: Here's a report from a teacher who attended one of the U. S. Department of Education's Teacher to Teacher workshops. Here is how these workshops are billed on the U. S. Department of Education website:

Teacher-to-Teacher Summer Workshops
The Department will partner with some of the best teachers to share with their colleagues research-based practices that they have successfully applied in the classroom to close the achievement gap and help all children learn and progress. The Department will provide participants DVDs, publications, suggested Internet sites and other resources that they can take back to their schools and share with colleagues. These new learning resources will help teachers to continue professional conversations online into the future.

Below is one teacher's experience.

I just returned yesterday from the US Dept.of Education's Teacher to Teacher workshop in St. Louis. This was one of seven or eight(I'd have to check the site to be sure) workshops held across the nation this summer with the
supposed intent of bring more recourses to teachers. While the presenters were very good, for the most part, I left the workshop rather disgusted that I had just sat through basically a two-day attempt to brainwash me that Bush
was pro-education and was doing great things for the American teacher.

To have a series of workshops that reached only 1400 of the nations teachers seems to be a very narrow attempt at reaching the teachers in this country and also a huge expense. Each teacher who attended had two nights hotel paid for ($133 a night in St. Louis), breakfast for two days, lunch for three, and received either $50 or $150 stipend to cover travel expenses and
dinner. At St. Louis, they basically rented out an entire floor of meeting rooms and had hired contractors to work out the logistics of the convention. There also were the expenses of the presenters, guest speakers, and Department of Education members present.

The main emphasis was on No Child Left Behind (heaven forbid I ever forget that the law is NOT a federal mandate; no district is required to accept federal funding) and how 100% of
all students can achieve the standards. The workshop on federal resources included a twenty minute share session of wanting to know where we were finding funding recourses.

I asked how much this workshop was costing the federal government, and in turn the taxpayers, and amazingly, no one could answer that question but "they'd find out"...I'm still waiting for that answer.

The materials given out are veiled campaign materials on how George W. has improved education in this country and is seeking new tax breaks for teachers. When a teacher asked about the tax break (if you skimmed the
materials, it looks like teachers get an automatic $400 dollar tax deduction next year) it was quickly explained that it was his intent to have this tax break in place by next year, but that it had not yet been approved.

The other theme of the meeting seem to be hyping the US Dept of Ed website, where you will be able to download some of the presentations this fall. I was left wondering why didn't the Dept. of Ed. just do web casts for all the presenters so that more teachers would have access to the information.

— Jennifer Crowder



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