Essay Writing Samples

Raise Your Hand for Public Education

The Raise Your Hand for Public Education Initiative begun in 2013 as part of a multi-pronged effort to raise awareness of the need for structured education reform. The purpose of this sample research paper is to explain that, the crux of this initiative is the belief that teachers are the most qualified to suggest and implement reforms, and not those outside of the education context. The professional writers here at Ultius want to explain that, The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act had left a stranglehold on the ability of teachers to apply their expertise in the classroom as they were held in lockstep by standardization. With the passage and implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) the biggest roadblocks to empowering teachers has been removed. This is a major success for the organizing power of the National Education Association (NEA), and will leave a lasting positive impact from the Obama administration.

Put your hands up

The National Education Association (NEA) began the Raise Your Hand for Public Education Initiative in 2013. The initiative is founded

“on the strong belief that educators – not politicians or self-proclaimed ‘reform’ experts – know what works and they are the ones to lead and act for student success” (Walker).

Supporting this focus the NEA has a host of initiatives organized through comprehensive and strategic community planning in order to simultaneously raise awareness on comprehensive education issues, and organize reform.

The campaign has four specific goals for public education:

  1. successful students
  2. accomplished professionals
  3. dynamic collaboration
  4. empowered school leaders (Walker)

While the NEA is a national organization, they empower states to work for their interests independent of federal support. Raise Your Hand is more of a call to action than connected with any specific piece of legislation, as the NEA emphasizes,

“By tapping into their commitment and leadership to serve America’s students, we are uniting our members with parents, community leaders and elected officials across the country, to fulfill the promise of public education and prepare every student to succeed” (NEA).

Through the efforts of many groups the Every Student Succeeds Act was passed and is now implemented, fulfilling many of the desires of the Raise Your Hand initiative, and helping to reduce the number of problems within the field of education.

In celebration of the success of the Raise Your Hand initiative and the many supportive efforts, the NEA president, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, spoke,

“Educators, across the country, welcome the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) as a critical juncture in education—a chance to reduce and eliminate opportunity gaps and inject the expertise of educators into decisions that impact teaching and learning in the classroom. Much as we were committed to the passage of this law and ending the era of test and punish, our members stand united on ensuring that we make the best decisions for students as states and districts move forward with the important work of implementation.” (Garcia)

Teacher and leader effectivenessSource: ASCD

The Every Student Succeeds Act was created to address the shortcomings of the No Child Left Behind Act. The table below compares both acts and describes the views held by the ASCD.

Seen in the graph above the changes ESSA makes to the structure of teacher empowerment significantly frees up educators to have a profound impact in their classrooms. However, for students and teachers across the nation, nothing lurks larger than the rapid implementation of the Common Core State Standards. As strong as they are, these standards will not succeed unless educators have been properly trained in how to integrate them into their classrooms. (Walker)

Raise your hand for the common core?

This is the type of pressure which is relieved by the implementation of ESSA, giving teachers more leeway to support the core standards through diverse practice.

The Common Core Standards remain under ESSA, and are:

  1. Research and evidence based
  2. Clear, understandable, and consistent
  3. Aligned with college and career expectations
  4. Based on rigorous content and the application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills
  5. Built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards
  6. Informed by other top-performing countries to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society. (Core Standards)

Supporting the more free-flowing approach of ESSA’s reform, the core standards aim to keep administrators, educators, activists, and parents all on the same page for the approach for evolving education goals, and to eliminate teachers from cheating the system to make test scores look better. However, while the standards set grade-specific goals, they do not define how the standards should be taught or which materials should be used to support students.

States and districts recognize that there will need to be a range of supports in place to ensure that all students, including those with special needs and English language learners, can master the standards. It is up to the states to define the full range of supports appropriate for these students. (Core Standards)

Part of the Raise Your Hand effort is to connect teachers with the community and resources they need to implement these standards. As the NEA emphasizes,

“Too many teachers and education support professionals work in environments not conducive to professional growth. Empowering these professionals to systems of support is a key component of the Raise Your Hand campaign” (Walker).

Children under 6 years old who are not enrolled in kindergartenSource: NCES

The importance of early childhood education cannot be overstated. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), an astonishing 40% of children under the age of six are not enrolled in kindergarten.

This initiative seeks to ensure that all eligible children get the education they will need to get a head start in life. As such, preschool and early education opportunities must be funded and protected for all ethnicities.

Putting these diverse goals into practice, the NEA illustrates 5 key ways that anyone can Raise Your Hand for Education:

  1. Become a Cooperating Teacher — An educator’s experience is an invaluable roadmap for college and university students entering the teaching profession. Cooperating teachers can help student teachers become classroom ready by helping them plan and apply curriculum and develop teaching methods.
  2. Join Program Approval Boards and Education Committees — Program approval boards and education committees give teachers the opportunity to contribute beyond the classroom, and make a significant impact on the profession.
  3. Become an edTPA Scorer – When it is time to determine if a new teacher is ready for the profession edTPA, a pre-service assessment process, can help. The assessment centers on the teaching and learning process of future educators and their ability to effectively teach subject matter to every student.
  4. Open Your Classroom for Observation – Give soon-to-be-teachers an opportunity to see theory in action and help them craft their expertise. Classroom observations give education majors a front row seat to different teaching and classroom management styles and different grade levels and disciplines.
  5. Become a Guest Lecturer – Visit with a teacher preparation program or serve as a guest speaker for the “introduction to teaching” class and share real-world experiences. (Alvarez)

With the new freedoms and flexibilities made available to teachers through the passage of ESSA these methods will be much more readily achieved.

Conclusion and key takeaways

The Raise Your Hand for Education initiative has been largely successful. Part of a much larger network of expansive and strategic collaboration efforts through the NEA in support of education reform at a legislative level, the detrimental effects of No Child Left Behind have begun to be righted. While there is still more to do to make equal opportunities to education available to students of all demographics, much progress has been made recently. ESSA’s implementation empowers teachers to shape their classrooms into the vistas of support and encouragement that only they can do.

Notes

  1. Chart retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/siteASCD/policy/ESEA_NCLB_ComparisonChart_2015.pdf
  2. Chart retrieved from: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2016/2016007.pdf

Works Cited

Alvarez, Brenda. “Five Ways to Raise Your Hand For Public Education.” Neatoday.org, 26 Jun. 2013.

Core Standards. “Read the Standards.” Corestandards.org, 2016.

Garcia, Lily Eskelsen. “NEA President: ESSA empowers educators and students to return their focus to teaching and learning in the classroom.” Nea.org, 2016.

Walker, Tim. “‘It’s Time to Storm the Castle’: Raise Your Hand Campaign Kicks Off in Atlanta.” Neatoday.org, 2 Jul. 2013.

Walker, Tim. “NEA Set to Launch Educator Led National Movement for Public Education.” Neatoday.org, 26 Jun. 2013.

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