Showing posts with label teachers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teachers. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Ohio Teacher, Kurt Russell named 2022 National Teacher of the Year

The Council of Chief State School Officers announced Tuesday that Kurt Russell is the organization’s National Teacher of the Year for 2022.

A 25-year veteran of the classroom, Russell was first inspired to become a teacher in middle school, when he encountered his first Black male teacher. Now as 2022 National Teacher of the Year, he plans to advocate for classrooms to better reflect the students within them — from a curriculum that reflects their backgrounds and identities to a more diverse teaching profession. 

Kurt teaches history at Oberlin High School in Oberlin, Ohio, where he was born and raised; his classes include African American history, which he has taught since the late 1990s, and Race, Gender and Oppression, a class he developed. He also serves as faculty advisor for the student-led Black Student Union, whose work has led to positive impacts for students across racial groups.

In addition to his classroom and extracurricular duties, Kurt is the head coach for the school’s varsity basketball team. He sees basketball as an extension of the classroom, and a place where young people can learn about working together and how to handle both adversity and success.  

Kurt holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in history and a minor in Black studies from the College of Wooster and a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction from Ashland University. He continues to take courses in child development at Oakland City University.

He was previously recognized as teacher of the year by the Oberlin Heritage Center and the Oberlin chapter of the NAACP, and as Lorain County Basketball Association Coach of the Year and the Northeast Ohio Coach of the Year. 

 Kurt lives with his wife, Donna, in Oberlin. They are the parents of two adult sons, Kurt Junior (KJ) and Korey. Kurt enjoys reading non-fiction and traveling.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Vermont bill would require college course in African American history for teachers

A bill that is proposed in Vermont would require public school teachers to take a college-level course in African American history.

The bill, H.79, sponsored by state representative Maida Townsend, (D) D-7 Chittenden, would require teachers to take a college level course in African American history before they could receive or renew a teaching license.

"I firmly believe that this bill, though it's tiny, one little course in African American history could serve as a building block across the various subject matter disciplines to help all teachers address the issues of bias," Rep. Townsend said.

The bill as introduced reads in part, "This bill proposes to require each applicant seeking to obtain or renew a license to teach in a public elementary or secondary school in Vermont to have completed at least one three-credit course in African American history at an accredited college or university, covering the period from the European colonization of North America through the end of the 20th century."


Friday, September 27, 2019

Cory Booker Introduces Legislation to Increase Teacher Compensation

U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation that would put more money back in the pockets of educators and help diversify the teaching workforce. The compensation of educators in 30 states across the country is below a family living wage and after adjusting for cost of living, teacher salaries declined in New Jersey and 38 other states from 2010 to 2016. Future teachers are heavily influenced by teacher pay when considering whether to become teachers or not, making it increasingly difficult to attract and retain effective, diverse candidates. This legislation would make educators eligible for at least $1,000 tax credits and as much as $11,500.

Through refundable tax credits, the Respect, Advancement, and Increasing Support for Educators (RAISE) Act will help boost the compensation of early childhood, elementary, and secondary school teachers. Depending on the level of poverty in their school, public school teachers would be eligible for a tax credit up to $10,000. The bill would also double the educator tax credit, which teachers can use to offset the cost of school supplies.

“America’s teachers are constantly being asked to do more and more without any significant increase in their compensation, and often at their own expense,” Booker said. “Educators are the unsung heroes of our society, but they cannot feed their families or pay their bills with heroism—they need and deserve our support. This legislation would allow us to use the federal tax code to put more resources back in teachers’ pockets and help attract diverse candidates to the noble profession.”

Diversifying the teaching workforce and increasing teacher compensation are top priorities for Booker. Earlier this Congress, he introduced the STRIVE Act, which would overhaul the student loan forgiveness program by providing incremental loan forgiveness each year to public school teachers in low-income schools.

Specifically, the RAISE Act would: 
  • Create a refundable $10,000 tax credit for public elementary and secondary teachers in high poverty public schools.
    • Public elementary and secondary school teachers in schools serving 75 percent or more students in poverty are eligible for the full tax credit. The value of the tax credit declines by percentage point for teachers between 74 percent and 50 percent poverty.
  • Create a refundable $10,000 tax credit for early childhood educators with a bachelor’s degree and an $8,000 credit for those with an associate’s degree in high poverty early childhood centers.
    • Early childhood educators in centers serving 75 percent or more students eligible for the Child Care and Development Block Grant or the child and adult care food program are eligible for the full tax credit. The value of the tax credit declines by percentage point for early childhood educators in centers with between 74 percent and 50 percent poverty.
    • Provide all teachers, regardless of the level of poverty in the school in which they teach, with a $500 refundable tax credit.
    • Increase the educator tax credit—a credit specifically to offset the cost of school supplies—from $250 to $500 and as much as $1,500 for educators in the highest need schools.

    During my classroom years back-to-school shopping meant scouring the school supplies sales for the best bargains that I could afford to pass along to my students,” Donna M. Chiera, President of American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, said. “Today, I see dedicated educators reaching into their own pockets to make sure their students have what they need when parents are unable to send them properly equipped and our schools are starving because educational funding is lacking. Teachers stand up for their students when the system has failed and this legislation assists in mitigating the financial strain on teachers. This investment is a strong first step in the journey of funding the educational future of our nation and I thank Senator Booker for introducing and championing it.”

    “The RAISE Act recognizes what we have known for too long--educators are underpaid for the work they do and the value they bring to our students, our schools and our nation,” Marie Blistan, President of New Jersey Education Association, said. “In a time where educators dig into their own pockets to buy school supplies and to help students and struggling families, we must do more to attract and retain talented educators.  We applaud Senator Booker for bringing attention to this problem and for offering a crucial first step towards finding a solution.”

    “We are pleased to see this bill include support for early childhood educators, who currently earn less than $15 per hour, despite the critical role they play in young children’s development,” Simon Workman, Director of Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress said. “This tax credit will help lift the early childhood workforce – made up predominantly of women – out of poverty, ensuring that they can support their own families while providing the high-quality early childhood education that working families rely on.”

    Sunday, August 19, 2018

    New Jersey high school principal installs laundry room to fight student bullying

    A high school principal in New Jersey is going above and beyond to make sure his students don't skip school out of fear of being bullied.

    West Side High School Principal Akbar Cook said some students were being bullied because of their dirty clothes -- which resulted in chronic absenteeism where they would miss three to five days a month. Cook kicked the football team out of their locker room to install washers and dryers for students to do their laundry.

    Sunday, September 03, 2017

    Stressing education is more than asking if your child's homework is done

    By George L. Cook III African American Reports

    Many of you may that know that I, George Cook have been a member of my local board of education since 2009. I like to share a motivational message about education every year and this year's message is directed toward parents who are the most important element in their child's education. I want to stress that stressing the value of education is more than asking your child if their homework is done. Hear more on my thoughts below:

    Sunday, May 15, 2016

    Meet Jahana Hayes, 2016 National Teacher of the Year

    Washington, D.C. (April 28, 2016) - The Council of Chief State School Officers today announced that Jahana Hayes, a high school history teacher in Waterbury, CT is the 2016 National Teacher of the Year.

    Hayes teaches at John F. Kennedy High School, but the community is her classroom. Connecting lessons learned in school to real life is an integral part of her instruction. Hayes seeks to send students into the world not just academically prepared but as conscientious and productive members of society.

    "I am honored to be the 2016 National Teacher of the Year," Hayes said. "In the course of the next year, I hope to stoke a national conversation about education that is inclusive of everyone. I want to engage people who have not traditionally been part of the conversation to join in this important effort to prepare well-rounded students for success in life."

    The National Teacher of the Year program, run by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and presented by Voya Financial, Inc., identifies exceptional teachers in the country, recognizes their effective work in the classroom, engages them in a year of professional learning, amplifies their voices, and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the state and national levels.

    As the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Hayes will spend a year traveling the nation to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers. Hayes looks forward to sharing her belief in the importance of service-learning, and in making the teaching profession more attractive and appealing to young people across all demographics.

    "CCSSO is honored to support the nation's great teachers, and I am excited that people across the nation and the world will soon learn from Jahana Hayes' commitment to education," said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO.

    "Jahana values a quality education for all students, and she finds ways to engage students outside of her classroom walls to improve her community - and strengthen the character of her kids. I look forward to the year ahead and all that parents, students and fellow educators will learn from Jahana."

    Every year, exemplary teachers from each state, the U.S. extra-state territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity are selected as State Teachers of the Year. From that group, the National Teacher of the Year is chosen by a panel representing 15 renowned education organizations, which collectively represent more than 7 million educators.

    "The Selection Committee selected Jahana Hayes as the 2016 National Teacher of the Year because we believe her message of service-learning resonates in the education discussion today," the committee stated. "In addition, we believe she has a strong story that speaks to educators and will bring an important perspective to the public discourse over the next year."

    "Teachers like Jahana Hayes are leading the way to a brighter future for America. What an exceptional educator - we are all proud," said Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. "Extraordinary academic rigor, high expectations, and unwavering commitment to service outside the classroom are the characteristics that Jahana brings to Waterbury students each and every day. She is truly preparing the next generation of global citizens. I want to congratulate Jahana and thank her for making a difference in the lives of so many Connecticut children and families."

    "Jahana Hayes inspires her students to believe in their ability to change the world. She ignites a love of learning and builds their self-confidence. This well-deserved distinction provides Jahana the platform and opportunity to share her gifts, passion, and talent with students and educators across the nation. Without question, Jahana will inspire others to believe in the power of teachers to change the world through education," said Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell. "Connecticut is so proud of Jahana. She is a true role model for educators across the nation who seek to deliver on the promise of an outstanding education for every student."

    "To be the National Teacher of the Year requires not only pedagogical precision, but also the ability to connect to the hearts and minds of a school community," said Waterbury Superintendent Kathleen M. Ouellette. "Jahana's own life experience, her passion for education, and the inspirational manner in which she impacts her students, all contribute greatly to her success. Jahana has masterfully refined a focused, pragmatic, yet heartfelt approach to an evolving global vision of education, bringing her to this pinnacle - the 2016 National Teacher of the Year! We in Waterbury, Connecticut are very proud!"

    The finalists for 2016 National Teacher of the Year are Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, (Washington), Daniel Jocz, (California), and Shawn Sheehan, (Oklahoma).  You can read more about the finalists here. 

    Hayes and the other 55 State Teachers of the Year have been invited to an event Tuesday at the White House, where they will be honored by President Barack Obama.

    Learn more about Jahana Hayes, including video, photos and a bio.
    The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.
    - See more at:

    Tuesday, March 15, 2016

    East Orange NJ principal works 43 years at the same school.

    Henry Hamilton had a pretty good idea of what the answer would be when he drove to the pension office in Trenton three years ago.
    He could earn more money if he retired, but Hamilton had a greater reason to keep working than collecting a sweet benefit package.
    Nothing could make him trade in his love for teaching children or being a principal for 43 years at an East Orange middle school.
    "They (pension office workers) were looking at me like I was crazy,'' Hamilton said
    He didn't flinch then, and he's not budging now. Hamilton just keeps moving the the retirement needle forward as he continues leading Whitney E. Houston Academy, a top kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school in the district.
    Talk about finding your passion. He's 77 years old and could have hung up his school bell at 62.  But money isn't everything for this principal. His students and staff are.
    Read more: East Orange principal chooses students over retirement

    Saturday, October 03, 2015

    Why black teachers are leaving urban schools

    While the percentage of minority teachers has risen in the US, the number of black teachers has declined between 2002 and 20012 in nine cities, according to a recent study by the Albert Shanker Institute.

    What does this mean not only for the communities in which these schools exist, but for the nation as a whole?

    “Diversity is a key component to equality and opportunity,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told the Washington Post. “Where there’s a diverse teaching workforce, all kids thrive. That’s why we note with alarm the sharp decline in the population of black teachers in our cities.”

    There are several factors which may be behind this decline. The first is low pay for teachers. According to a study by Young Invincibles, an advocacy group, the average starting salary for a teacher is $34,575 – or about $6,000 less than the average starting salary of 28 professions.

    The second is the recurring emphasis that education policy tends to place on test scores. This rigidity, argues Nekita Lamour, a Haitian-American and tenured educator, disincentivises black and Hispanic educators from participating in the system: they are not being encouraged to teach their fellow man, but to the test, instead.

    The Shanker Institute’s study found that over a ten-year period, from 2002 to 2012 (a period marked by an explosion in the development of charter schools, and an accompanying dialogue about education reform), the population of black teachers declined by as much as 62 percent in the cities studied (although in the case of New Orleans, many black teachers were fired).

    “Minority teachers quit because of working conditions in their schools,” Richard Ingersoll, an expert who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, also told the Washington Post. “In surveys, those teachers cite lack of autonomy and input into school decisions [in large urban schools].”

    Read more: Why black teachers are leaving urban schools