Taking the Guesswork Out of Assessment
Say goodbye to one-size-fits-all standardized tests. Performance- based assessment can remove bias, introduce real-world learning, and help you evaluate students’ knowledge more accurately.
See Educators Run for Office—and Win!
Elected leaders make a lot of decisions about education. That's why it's so important that educators are among them.
NEA Members Dish Advice and Authenticity on TikTok and Instagram
These educators deliver real talk and inspiration—and thousands of colleagues are following.
The Teachers Who Went to Jail
Fifty years ago, a judge in Evergreen, Washington, gave teachers a choice: break your strike or go to jail.
(‘Come, Let Us Begin!’)
A handful of educators are teaching Native languages—and showing Native American students that their culture matters.
Education Support Professionals
ESPs Making Schools Greener
Paraprofessional, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and other staff are key to reducing, reusing, and recycling in schools.
ESP and ESP Sub Shortages at Historic Proportions
Substitutes are hard to come by for the same reasons behind the staff shortages. Local organizing helps.
Becky's Journal of Joy, Justice, and Excellence
NEA's president spreads some Read Across America joy, shares some inspirational verse for poetry month, and speaks out for academic freedom.
5 Projects to Get Students into Coding
Set aside an hour to try one of these fun projects with your class.
Issues & Action
Educators Want Financial Literacy for All Students. This is Why.
How is it possible to graduate from high school with an A in trigonometry, but little to no understanding of how to set a budget or build a good credit score?
Only 27 states require schools to offer a course in personal finance, and only 17 require that all students take it to earn a diploma.
Florida is one of the most recent states to add such a requirement. A new law called the Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act ensures that every high school student takes a half-credit personal finance course to graduate.
Real world math
Pam Brockmeyer, a math teacher at Cocoa High School, in Florida, is pleased about the new law, which will go into effect for students entering high school in the 2023–2024 school year. Long before the passage of the bill, Brockmeyer started including principles of personal finance in her existing math classes. At the height of the pandemic, she even piloted a stand-alone class on the subject.
“Students aren’t necessarily going to need calculus classes for their future, but everyone needs to know how to be a fiscally responsible human being,” Brockmeyer says.
When Brockmeyer taught about compound interest in a recent Algebra 2 honors class, her students started asking more questions about loans and how to buy a car.
“They want to know the difference between credit and debit, good or bad credit, and how using the cash advance stores they see could impact their finances,” she says.
The unit was a smash hit. But Brockmeyer urges that personal finance education shouldn’t be reserved for honors math students.
Financial literacy should not be a privilege
A chief advantage of the state requiring a stand-alone class is that all students will have access to the content. In states that don’t require it, students of color and those from lower income families are less likely to learn about the topic at school, putting those students at a disadvantage for making informed financial decisions. It exacerbates the racial wealth gaps that have always existed in the United States.
Understanding basic economics also prepares students to be voters with a savvy understanding of how leaders’ decisions affect their pocketbooks and the fate of public schools.
Find more resources for teaching personal finance.
The State of Personal Finance Information At-a-Glance
A Comprehensive Personal Finance Class Covers Topics Such as:
- How to balance a checkbook
- How to manage debt
- How to apply for a load
- How to contest an incorrect bill
- What to know about receiving an inheritance
- Why we have insurance
- The meaning of local tax assessments
- The basics of contracts
CLOSE UP: Welding isn’t just for boys
Sparks are flying in this high school classroom—literally—as students learn to weld pieces of metal together, shooting little bolts of lightning into the air. But unlike in many schools, the students wielding the torches in this Fairbanks, Alaska, classroom are all female. They are part of the Girls in Welding program, housed at Hutchison High School and created by veteran career technical teacher Pete Daley.
Throughout his 20-year career, Daley’s welding students have been predominantly male. And when female students did enroll in his class, they were often reluctant to speak and fully engage.
“As I read through the Welding Journal, I learned that women only make up 4 percent of the welding industry, and I thought, well, maybe I can do something about that,” he says.
After much research and due diligence to get approvals, he launched a summer program in 2022, drawing female students from the Fairbanks North Star Borough school district. The class teaches welding fundamentals, helps students explore career possibilities, and even puts their new skills to use building bike racks for the city of Fairbanks.
With the inaugural 12 students enrolled last summer from schools across the district, he says the classroom atmosphere has transformed. The girls support each other, give each other advice about projects, and check each other’s work. And some natural leaders have started to emerge.
“I’m seeing some leaders that maybe wouldn’t be so bold if it was a mixed class,” he says.
“I can see some [of them] running crews here in the not-too-distant future.” And the students have embraced the opportunity to expand their skill sets.
“I love learning from Mr. Daley,” says Erica Lopez, a senior at Hutchison High. “Especially with his teaching experience, I learn new things from him that I didn’t know for the longest time.”
And Daley hopes that for some of his female students, this experience may lead them to consider a career in welding one day.
A version of this story was originally published by NEA-Alaska at NEAAlaska.org.
QUICK TAKES: What’s the Funniest Thing a Student Ever Said to You?
“Years ago, every Friday, our principal would hand deliver our paychecks. One time, after he handed me mine and left, a student asked what it was that Mr. A gave me every week. When I replied it was my paycheck, he exclaimed, ‘You get paid for this?!’” —Janet Bostrom Volpe, Rhode Island
A student once told me I mispronounced the name Marie Curie. It’s pronounced Mariah Carey. —Nancy D.
“When I was delivering a lesson with enthusiasm: ‘Mr. M.? What are you really thinking about? It can’t be this.’” —Greg M.
“A kindergartner called me over to proudly show his drawing. He exclaimed, ‘Look! It’s a Wi-Fi monster! He eats Wi-Fi. Because …[he puts his head in his hands and looks distraught] there’s NOTHING scarier than no Wi-Fi!’” —Ashley D.
“I was wearing Crocs, and a seventh grader said, ‘You have no authority over me while you’re wearing those shoes.’” —Harper G.
“I taught Pre-K a few years back. We were heading to lunch. So I warMed up my food to eat with them—and then put it on my desk. Got the scholars lined up. As I turn around, I see one of my scholars is eating my chicken. He looks at me and says, ‘Mr. Carey, this chicken nasty,’ but proceeds to eat it. Smh … I love that boy.” — Larry Carey, Ohio
“My toys come alive at night, but my parents told me I can’t talk about it.” —Tammy H.
Keep the laughs coming! We’ve gathered more hysterical stories—from the silly to the mortifying—for you to read right on your mobile phone. Text LAUGH to 48744 to read stories that are sure to bring a smile to your face.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: ‘I Found My Place’
School Counselor Guilford County, North Carolina
“When I was 11, the city of Albany, Georgia, had a historic flood. My grandparents were missionaries and interacted with the disaster-affected families. I served with them, working with kids. My grandparents had such a heart for people that I fell in love with service to others. As an adult, I found my place in school counseling, helping students with their social and emotional learning. This gives me such energy and joy—it’s why I show up to work every day.”
In the Know
What Education Issues
Motivated Voters in 2022? According to a national NEA survey, conducted by GBAO Strategies following the 2022 midterm elections, voters preferred candidates with more positive messages around the real challenges schools, educators, and students face. Respondents said they were less interested in manufactured outrages—namely “critical race theory”—which were designed to divide parents and educators.
NEA asked voters what education issues were major factors in their vote. Here’s what topped the list:
- School shootings.
- Low teacher salaries and their impact on staffing shortages.
- A more honest teaching of U.S. history, including slavery, the civil rights movement, and Native American history.
- Lack of school funding.
- Politically-motivated book bans.
- Lack of support for students who fell behind academically during the pandemic.
HIgher Education as a Public Good
“Is higher education just for career skills, or is it to promote better citizens? If the goal is to promote better citizens, don’t we, as a society, have an obligation to support that as a public good? As one of the wealthiest societies on Earth, shouldn’t we put more of our resources into higher education?”
—Will Bunch, author of After the Ivory Tower Falls: How College Broke the American Dream and Blew Up Our Politics and How to Fix It.
School Dress Codes Discriminate Against Many Students
Nearly all K–12 public school districts have restrictive dress codes that impact female students, students of color, and LGBTQ+ students more than their classmates, according to a recent study by the U.S.
Government Accountability Office (GAO).
For example, while 90 percent of dress codes prohibit at least one clothing item typically worn by girls, such as strapless tops or yoga pants, about 70 percent prohibit an item typically worn by boys, such as “muscle T-shirts” or sagging pants. Almost all school districts use subjective language, such as “revealing” or “immodest,” which are more often associated with clothing worn by female students and leave enforcement up to interpretation.
The GAO study also found that Black and Hispanic students are more likely to suffer strict consequences for dress code violations, as 4 in 5 predominantly Black schools and nearly two-thirds of predominantly Hispanic schools have codes that remove students from class for dress code violations, compared with one-third of predominantly White schools.
The national student-to- counselor ratio decreased to 408:1. That’s down from 415-to-1 the year before. Pandemic relief funds—which NEA strongly advocated for—helped close this gap. But there’s more work to do.
The American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of 250:1.
Cellphones Still Widely Banned in Schools
Students have been using cellphones in their daily lives for almost two decades, but most public schools continue to resist allowing the devices into the classroom. Schools generally grapple with new technologies, but cellphones are often considered a nuisance and a distraction. And increased concerns over student mental health have made cellphone bans hard to dislodge. According to data released in fall 2022 by the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 77 percent of schools prohibited non-academic use of cellphones or smartphones during school hours in 2020—up from 65 percent in 2015. But some parents are pushing back. Although they understand how disruptive phones can be in school, they are concerned their children won’t be reachable if there’s a catastrophic event, such as a school shooting.
As of 2020, nearly 77% of schools prohibited non-academic use of cellphones or smartphones during school hours—up from 65% in 2015.
Later Start Times Benefit Educators, Too
Changing school start times can encourage healthier sleep—and therefore better academic performance—for middle and high school students, according to an extensive body of research.
But what do we know about the impact of later start times on educators? In November 2022, researchers led by Kyla Wahlstrom of the University of Minnesota found that teachers in a suburban district in Colorado felt less stressed and more rested three years after their start time changed: The high schools started 70 minutes later, and the middle schools began 40 to 60 minutes later.
As a result of the new schedule, high school teachers slept 22 minutes longer and woke 28 minutes later on average. For middle school teachers, those numbers were 13 and 14 minutes, respectively. Furthermore, all teachers reported significantly less sleepiness throughout the day.
“Later secondary school start times is a significant policy shift that not only improves the health and well-being of adolescents, but can also equalize healthy sleep duration for all K–12 teachers,” the researchers concluded.