U.S. Department of Education (ED) officials from across the country went "Back to School" today, shadowing teachers across the country. Over 65 officials will take part in the second annual event designed to give Department officials an opportunity to witness the day in the life of a teacher and hear directly about ways the Department can greater support their work and better understand the demands placed upon teachers.
Officials were assigned to shadow one teacher at various institutions including; early childhood, K-12, adult learning and English learning programs in 13 states and the District of Columbia. Following the regular teaching day, officials and teachers will meet with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other senior officials to discuss their experiences and share lessons learned. ED officials taking part in these discussions regularly use the knowledge gained to inform work across the department.
"ED Goes Back to School provides us with a time to recognize teachers' work and listen to their perspective on ways we can continue improving our schools and views of the teaching profession," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "It is our collective responsibility to make sure that the millions of teachers in America's classrooms have the tools, time and professional development to be the very best they can be. The quality of our education system can only be as good as the quality of the teaching happening in classrooms and every member of society has a part to play in supporting our teachers and students."
The day is one of several events hosted by the Department in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10) and the country's more than five million teachers.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education released a blueprint for RESPECT (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching)the result of an unprecedented national dialogue for reforming and elevating the teaching profession. Among other things, the RESPECT blueprint calls for teacher salaries to be competitive with professions like architecture, medicine and law, more support for novice teachers and more career opportunities for veterans.
Along with blueprints like RESPECT, ED is working with governors and chief state school officers to raise the bar and create high standards that prepare students for success in college and careers. In districts across the country, leaders are working together to turn around schools, create new evaluation systems, and partner for performance pay plans. They are moving beyond the battles of the past and finding new ways to work together. States are creating bold plans to reform their schools so their children are prepared for success in the 21st-century workforce.
The Obama Administration continues to work to strengthen the nation's schools for all students. Secretary Duncan and President Obama are committed to making significant investments in early learning from birth through age 5. Building on the state investments in preschool programs, the President is proposing $75 billion over 10 years to create new partnerships with states to provide high-quality preschool for all 4-year olds. The President also created Race to the Top with an historic $4.35 billion investment. As a result of that initiative, more than 40 states have raised standards, improved assessments and invested in teachers to ensure that all of our children receive a high-quality education.