DCPS Teachers: Conversation with the Chancellor: The Future of the D.C. Teaching Profession

Conversation with the Chancellor: The Future of the D.C. Teaching Profession

Join us for an exciting conversation with D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson on how to develop, support, and retain highly effective teachers. Bring your voice to a discussion on the future of the D.C. teaching profession.

Wednesday, November 9

Registration: 5:00 p.m.
Program: 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Networking Reception: 7:00pm – 7:30 pm

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW

The venue is easily accessible by Metro; it is a five minute walk from the Dupont Circle stop (Red Line).
For parking options, click here. There are a number of vendors that offer flat rates after 5pm.

Teachers RSVP here....

Thursday November 3rd for an Empowerment Circle


· Did you know that the Deputy Mayor for Education (De’Shawn Wright) has hired a Chicago based firm to do a study on how DC neighborhoods are served by the public school system (Traditional Public and Charter)

· The information found by this study will be used to make a case to close schools in the District and/or to turn them over to National Charter School Managers

· This study will be looking at school’s test scores to determine if a school is “performing” or not. They will not take into consideration other ways that a school is excelling for its students, parents and community

· The numbers below reflect the number of “under performing DCPS schools” by Ward
o Ward 1 = 8 schools, Ward 2 = 3 schools, Ward 3 = 0 schools, Ward 4 = 11 schools, Ward 5 = 11 schools, Ward 6 = 11 schools,
Ward 7 = 20 schools, Ward 8 = 20 schools

If you live anywhere else than Ward 3 you should be concerned about the possible impact to your school and community!

Join us on Thursday November 3rd for an Empowerment Circle to:

· Inform yourself on what is going on with this study and school closures
· Learn and plan action steps you can take at your school
· Connect with other concerned parents and community members from around the city working against school closures

When – Thursday November 3, 2011
Where – Benning Road/Dorothy Height Library
3935 Benning Road, NE – Walking distance from Minnesota Ave. Metro (Orange line)
Time – 6:30pm to 8:30pm

Please RSVP to Daniel del Pielago – 202-234-9119 xt. 104 or Daniel@Empowerdc.org
Please note if you will need child care

Empower DC – 1419 V Street, NW – 202-234-9119 – Empowerdc.org

Feel free to distribute the attached flyer to your school and community!

Family Engagement Events in DC this Fall

Following are two announcements of upcoming meetings sponsored by DCPS on family engagement and a forum on Family Engagement sponsored by the Young Education Professionals.

The DCPS Office of Family and Community Engagementis reaching out to parents of current DCPS students. They are hosting interactive discussions on what support, information and
partnerships you think are necessary to support your child’s academic
success, your child’s school and the school district as a whole. Your input
will help inform the development of DCPS’ family engagement strategy and
next steps. The upcoming meeting dates, times and locations are listed
below. For your convenience, they are providing child care, interpretation and lightrefreshments. The ward 7 meeting took place tonight.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact them at 202-442-8824.
*Dates, times and locations*
Wards 1 & 4, October 27th, 6-8pm, Tubman ES, 3101 13th St NW
Wards 5 & 6, November 10th, 6-8pm, Ludlow-Taylor ES, 659 G St NE
Wards 2 & 3, November 14th, 6:30-8:30, Eaton ES, 3301 Lowell St NW

YEP Logo-Color.jpg
posted this on their site:
RSVP now for our family engagement event!
With remarks by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), former superintendent ofDenver Public Schools

Family Engagement: Bridging the Classroom-to-Living Room Divide

WHERE: Russell Senate Office Building, Room 325 (Accessible via Union Station Metro)
Wednesday, November 2, 2011, 6:00pm-8:30pm
RSVP: http://bit.ly/YEPDCFamilyEngagement

The research is clear: family engagement is critical to the success of our education system – from implementing large-scale reform to improving individual student achievement levels. Across the board, there is agreement among education leaders and stakeholders that parents and family members are central to the success of a school, a teacher, and a student. There is less agreement and less clarity around what family engagement is, what family engagement is supposed to look like, and what effective, replicable models of family engagement exist.

Please join YEP-DC, the Flamboyan Foundation, and Senator Michael Bennet at the panel event “Family Engagement: Bridging the Classroom-to-Living Room Divide” where we will explore the role of educators, schools, districts, and the federal government in developing, identifying, and scaling up best practices in effectively engaging parents, families, and community members in a child's education.

Panelists include:
  • Kelly Young, Interim Chief, Office of Family and Public Engagement, District of Columbia Public Schools
  • Jacque Chevalier-Minow, Senior Education Policy Analyst, National Parent Teacher Association
  • Danette Dicks, Kindergarten Teacher, Eagle Academy Public Charter School
  • Aquila Watson, D.C. parent
  • Moderator: Kristin Ehrgood, President & Board Chair, Flamboyan Foundation
With remarks by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), former superintendent of Denver Public Schools

Sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet, with support from the Flamboyan Foundation


Video that explains how current education reform is taking our nation in the wrong direction

Leonie Haimson from Parents Across America posted this on NYC Public School Parent. I had to repost......it was hilarious to watch!! (link at the bottom).

"Check out Yong Zhao's terrific (and funny!) presentation on October 12, along with the question and answer session, co-sponsored by Class Size Matters, GEM, Time out From Testing, and Parents Across America.

Prof. Zhao
is the nation's most eloquent critic of high-stakes testing and discusses how the current education reform agenda is taking our nation's schools in entirely wrong direction."


NEXT DC Parent Power Meeting

Monday, November 7th, 6:30-8:30pm
Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library
Room: SPK Room

DC Parent Power seeks:
* Authentic public engagement
* Transparency at all stages of policy development
* Less emphasis on standardized testing
* Richer curriculum
* Strong backing for public education, as opposed to increasing privatization
* Decreasing racial and economic school segregation
* Use of proven methods in all levels of school reform
* Equitable funding for all Wards


TEACHERS: Don't cannibalize, ORGANIZE

I understand teachers are not normally political hounds, yet, sometimes I wish they were more aware of the who is really making the big decisions in our profession; for it's certainly not other teachers.

To illustrate my point, yesterday I attended a focus group at the Department of Education with other teachers from across the District. Being an art teacher, I have been luckily spared the weight and stress of standardized testing in my subject area. I am hoping this day never comes for that will be the day I find another career; and fast. In this crowd at the Department of education there happened to be two art teachers, me included, and when the conversation touched upon standardized tests some teachers began to spout out how of course we loved our jobs, we're not in a 'testing grade'. For those of you totally unfamiliar with eduspeak, a 'testing grade' is a grade level in which a large percentage of a teacher's standardized test scores for that year counts towards your final evaluation, which will then be used to inform whether or not you remain a teacher and to help label you 'minimally effective', 'effective', or 'highly effective' for that year.

The negative energy coming from these 'testing grade' teachers towards 'non-testing grade' teachers is what I like to call 'cannibalistic behavior'. I love words that bring up an instant visual. Cannibalism brings forth mental images of people biting at each other; not a good thing. I have noticed this type of 'cannibalistic' behavior before in teachers and it's most often displayed when teachers are under a great deal of stress to 'perform' and they take their frustration on to whomever they see is not suffering their same fate; art teachers are often the recipients of that frustration. Yet, the behavior of spewing negativity at a peer or a colleague whom they perceive as 'having it easier', yet, who has the same level of powerlessness as you, will never make things better. Instead, this type of behavior separates us within our profession. Unfortunately, as an art educator, in a country that has less and less of them, these behaviors are quite common and wearing all of us down.

I once read that teaching is not a 'profession' for teachers do not set parameters for their own profession; non-teachers make all the decisions that befall teachers. As painful as this may be to swallow, it's absolutely true. Teachers make little to no decisions concerning their profession, pedagogy, curriculum, calendar, nothing. When parents get mad at me that we have professional development days, I tell them I did not make that decision. In an attempt to seem inclusive, teachers might be 'consulted' about some decisions by the powers that be, but teachers overall are not part of any major decisions in the running of any school Districts in this country.

In other professions, like in the medical field, a doctor may rise up the ranks and one day be the Head of something and help make larger decisions affecting a larger populations. Yet, in teaching, great teachers most often just want to be in their classrooms until they retire. Great teachers just want to interact with kids all day. We've all met these amazing teachers; they're the ones that show up to your 20th year reunion, for they still work at the same school. Unfortunately, this lack of teacher involvement, teacher energy in education policy is directly feeding into why teaching has become such a stressful career.

The question then becomes, how do we get teachers interested in becoming involved and demanding a 'seat at the decision making table'? It's always been my understanding that the closer the decision makers the better suited the decisions are. I suggest that graduate schools should not only address pedagogy, behavior and curriculum, but they should also help make teachers aware of the obvious connection between policy and their practice. Nothing will ever get better unless more teachers become politicized, involved, engaged and aware of where these miserable decisions are really being made.

Perhaps a vision for the 21st century teacher is a school system run by caring, deeply passionate teachers.....the cynical part of me says, "yes, but then what would the lawyers, millionaire philanthropists, politicians and 2-year Teach for Year 'leaders' do?"


My entire ROOTS series on display at Wilson's 75th Celebration this Saturday

My entire ROOTS series on display at Wilson's 75th Celebration this Saturday

Dear wonderful Murch families!
I will be showing the entire series of my latest mixed media paintings at the Wilson's 75th celebration tomorrow. This will be the first and only showing of the completed 'roots' series which I've been working on for the past 9 months.

Aside from my own work, All day this Saturday, (10-5pm) Wilson will open its doors to the community and host a FREE Music & Arts Festival and Open House featuring:

**Field stage with rock ‘n roll to gogo: Trouble Funk, Deathfix, Peculiar People, Ras Lidj, Morrison Brothers, and the Wilson Marching Band

**Auditorium stage with jazz to opera Art exhibition & sale in the atrium

**Crafts fair Food trucks, including Red Hook Lobster, DC Empanadas, Fojol Bros, Takorean, Curbside Cupcakes, Broad Branch Market, Armands, and Tender Rib.

hope to see you all there! Please email me at Miriam.Cutelis@yahoo.com if you have questions.


The smoky quartz....Luke's latest obsession...

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Nora's "Installation"

Notice her eyes looking back at you through the peep hole.
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Painting morning..

Nora and I are painting this morning.
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Why we do what we do.....(and what great teachers and hamsters have in common)

I am lucky enough to have a wonderful student-teacher helping me in the art room for the next couple of months. Her residency in my art room is her last stop before she becomes a formal, certified art teacher. Having her here with me daily has made me really think through how to put into words all I do in my classroom in order to be able to give her the best advice about the profession.

I heard the news last night about the passing of Steve Jobs. In trying to grasp the impact of this man on our collective lives, I ran across a speech he gave at a Stanford graduation in 2005. In this speech he imparts onto graduates many 'golden nuggets' of life; one of them being that you can only ever be great at doing something you really love to do. That is the number one advice I think all young people should walk away knowing about their future; only loving what you do will bring you true greatness. I included this video below so that you can walk away with some other words of wisdom.

This week in my room I have a special pet hamster occupying my classroom. His name is Hamsty and a family at the school I work at has lent her to the art class so that the 'hamster playground' the 1st grade students designed and created could be 'tested' out. The great thing about hamsters is that they make use of everything you place in their cage. One could lay a paper towel tube in the cage and walk away. Several hours later you come back and this tube has been chewed apart and turned into bedding, or kept intact and being used as a cozy bed quarter. Great teachers do the same thing. Every single experience I have ever been through relating to schools, good, bad, great or horrid is used to make us better teachers.

Walking in every morning I know I do not want to be my like my high school social studies teacher who so obviously had her 'favorites' and would blatantly ignore the rest of us who did not 'get history'. Walking in every morning I know I want to carry with me a little of Mr. Gordon (5th grade) with me for always treating each one of us respectfully. When I interact with my students daily, I know I do not want to be like my 6th grade teacher, whose name thankfully I don't remember, and who openly mocked my writing in front of my peers. Last, I absolutely want to be like my amazing college professor and advisor who, after 23 years of feeling 'never smart enough', showed me that in fact, I was a learner after all. She gave me the gift of confidence.

These great teachers we have all been fortunate enough to been inspired by are also the very ones that are always changing, always evolving, always trying to be better than yesterday. In my personal opinion, self-reflectiveness and this magical sense of resourcefulness in using one's life lessons to inform our pedagogy is the main aspect that connects all amazing teachers. The level of mindfulness and the intense thoughtfulness to the 'hows' and the 'whys' of how we might speak to our students, and the words we choose when we address them; all adds to what makes these great teachers so amazing.


Welcome to Perry's World.....

This morning in the Washington Post: At Rick Perry's Texas hunting Spot, Camp's Racially Charged Name Lingered

The Washington Post article begins, "In the early years of his political career, Rick Perry began hosting fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters at his family’s secluded West Texas hunting camp, a place known by the name painted in block letters across a large, flat rock standing upright at its gated entrance. “Niggerhead,” it read."

The 5 (online) page article proceeds to interview Perry and several people familiar with the camp to try to determine how long this offensive label has been on property. I was shocked at how "Several spoke matter-of-factly about the hunting camp and its name and wondered why it held any outside interest." Really!? No clue why this would shock many, not one clue? My question is how does a candidate who comes from a place with such a deep level of disconnectedness even get this far? To give you some background, "the 2010 Census shows 11 black residents in this county....ELEVEN! Also, the article adds that, "Haskell County began observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day two years ago". Let me repeat, TWO years ago. Again I ask? How does someone who lives in a bubble get this far in this presidential election politics? It's astounding to me. Aren't there better candidates out there? Must our presidents always be wealthy?

I decided to treat you all and list the absurd and blatant, nonchalant comments quoted in this article from people in "Rick's world":

* Don Ballard, the superintendent of the Paint Creek school district. “Certainly were no picketing signs. Blacks were perfectly satisfied with what was happening.”

* “It’s just a name,” said Haskell County Judge David Davis, sitting in his courtroom and looking at a window. “Like those are vertical blinds. It’s just what it was called. There was no significance other than as a hunting deal.”

* “We kind of laughed about it,” recalled this person, who said he would probably vote for Perry if he wins the Republican nomination.

* Longtime hunters, cowboys and ranchers said this particular place was known by that name as long as they could remember, and still is.

* Ray Perry once borrowed Reed’s hunting lodge said, "it’s basically a figure of speech as far as most people are concerned. No one thought anything about it.”

Reading this article makes me realize how deeply disappointed I am at the level of conformity and demobilization of the masses in this country. I was recently at a meeting and a participant I highly admire asked, "How come we're always the chumps? The other guys always come out with the big guns, let's stop being chumps!". True. In the grassroots world we often get caught up with details, getting our facts straight, not coming across too extreme. But the people who are on top, in whatever capacity this may be, seem to have in common this lack of general sanity and hold perspectives that are disconnected from facts and how the majority thinks. I propose that as a country, we actually need to reevaluate what we value in our leaders. How does a guy who is obviously so disconnected even get to be in a PRESIDENTIAL debate? I will take a wild guess and say that as a society we admire wealth way too much and this helps clouds all our judgements. Perry so obviously not resemble most of us, and perhaps that is what his supporters like in him; the glitz. He represents the things wealth can buy. He must be great for he's filthy rich.