Teacher Leaders Tell Tales of Working at ED

Teachers live at the intersection of policy and practice, and we need to be central to both conversations. Understanding this, the U.S. Department of Education has recently welcomed its sixth cohort of Teaching Ambassador Fellows— eight teachers from across the country on either full-time or part-time release to supply their expertise to the federal policy apparatus. The program has proven so valuable that inaugural cohort of Principal Ambassador Fellows is soon to arrive as well.

As one of the full-time Washington TAFs from 2012-2013, it was an honor to pass the torch to this year’s group. Before leaving, several other outgoing Fellows and I shared some reflections and anecdotes on what the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship is all about.


Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

Look up the new Fellows’ stories here and keep an eye out in December when applications for the 2014-2015 TAFs go live.

Dan Brown, a 2012 TAF, is the Director of the Future Educators Association.

4 Comments

  1. I want to know: if so much was brought TO Arne Duncan, so many concerns brought FROM teachers directly TO Mr. Duncan himself, then why in the world do so many teachers still feel unheard? Why are so many of us disenfranchised? Why our our concerns still dismissed, and best practice overridden by well-funded corporate-style initiatives with NO research-based benefit and in fact many cases of documented harm to students, teachers, and school communities?

    Why are fellows talking about programs uniting the DoE with teachers as “outreach?” To me that conjures images of bringing Duncan’s message to the people. Should the process not be going the other way: FROM teachers TO the DoE?

    • I hope you don’t think the DOE is about education and what’s best for America.

      The takeover of education (along with other areas) by Washington is nothing more than removing power from the people and giving it to special interest groups with Wall Street at the top of the list.

      Your concerns should be heard and addressed by the people in your community that pay your salary and not the DOE.

      The sheep that cater to this thinking are helping to write the non-fiction version of 1984.

      Big Brother thanks you. Your children and grandchildren won’t.

      • No worries. I haven’t thought that for a long while, not even when I was still in the classroom before I had children (so nearly 12 years since regular public school employment), and certainly not now as a parent (and sometime teacher who refuses to let data “drive” her instruction). But those people in my community – the School Board, the principals, the teachers’ association (no actual unions here), are all beholden to Uncle Arne’s policies; they explain their actions and policy with Federal mandates (eg “These tests are mandated and no, you cannot opt your children out,” and “Too bad if your district superintendent doesn’t want to include test scores as part of teacher evaluation, because your State super is a Broadie and she says otherwise.”), and otherwise marginalize and dismiss the concerns of teachers and parents, and they won’t hire me as long as I don’t fit their mold – too much of a subversive troublemaker, I am. LOL

        But this is such a propaganda piece to me – calling something an “outreach” that is clearly designed to disseminate information and impose policies one-way, to soften the ground for new and harsher ones, and to use teachers to do so in the name of “collaboration,” all the while dismissing the very feedback from teachers this effort purports to collect and take into account – that I can’t let it go unremarked. As it is, Arne Duncan wouldn’t be hireable as even a substitute teacher where I live, and I cannot reconcile the images and speeches on the video with what I see in the trenches. The cognitive dissonance is too much. :-(

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