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NEA Today Fall 2017

In this issue we look at what rural schools—and the 9 million students they serve—stand to lose from the Trump-DeVos privatization agenda. Plus, visit a Georgia community school, meet the next generation of educators, and read how a superb paraeducator-teacher team make it work.
Published: October 1, 2017

Cover Story: Who's Looking Out for Rural Schools?
For 9 million students—a number that exceeds the enrollments of public schools in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and the next 75 largest school districts combined—there is little “choice” in the push for school voucher expansion. 

Thirty Under 30
Meet the next generation of educators. They’re filled with heart, spirit, and determination. Most of all, they’re prepared to make a difference. 

It’s “Home Away from Home” in a GA Community School
A look at a Georgia school that offers services designed to help students overcome obstacles and reach success.  

In Step with Miss Gloria and Miss Monica
How clear communication, and a keen understanding of roles and responsibilities, helps a Florida teacher-para team choreograph a winning experience for students.

Spinning Out
Some say they help with focus. Others say they don’t belong in school. What’s not in question is that they’re growing in popularity. A look at fidget spinners.

Education Support Professionals
Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student
Read how ESP member-activists in Washington state built community support, and won a three year contract and a pay boost. And meet a dedicated group of California ESPs who built a union from the ground up after being blindsided by the removal of their health care coverage. 

First and Foremost
A recent investigation indicates low-income students are overlooked for gifted classes. Meanwhile, educator pay doesn’t stack up to that of other professions, and how to support educators affected by recent hurricanes.

Teaching and Learning

Issues and Impact
How NEA’s “See Educators Run” training program is already building success. And meet Keron Blair, director of the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools.

People and Places
Meet hospital-based teacher Kristine Polisciano Gonzalez, and a look at how engineer-turned teacher Nick Gattuso helps students build apps for their counterparts who have special needs.

A Note from the Editor-In-Chief
From understanding how vouchers, traditional charters and cyber charters harm rural schools, to becoming a pro-public education activist, it’s up to all of us to protect public education.

Lily’s Blackboard
Rural schools are an important part of our history and an essential part of our future. Making them stronger is in our children’s best interest.

Talk Back

Who’s Listening?

In my 30+ years in public education, I have experienced the joy and the satisfaction of reaching students, despite the unprecedented loss of voice in what I can do to make their classroom experience more beneficial. “The Upside of Teacher Resignation Letters Going Viral,” (Summer 2017). We, who are with these students, and who communicate with their families, know them, and we also know how to reach them. In the past several years, my “worth” has been measured by numbers, and on data accumulated by a steady stream of tests. I love my work, and I love my students, but I also know a better way to help them to be successful. The problem is, nobody “in charge” of education is listening.

—Kathy Dowd

The Backbone of America

Compare program offerings and outcomes between charter schools and public schools overall, [in] any state, anywhere. “What the Charter Industry Can Learn From Enron—Before It’s Too Late,” (Summer 2017). You will quickly see that charter school offerings and outcomes pale in comparison to public school offerings. Public schools [and] community schools are, or were, the backbone of America, providing upward mobility for millions of Americans of all stripes, and especially the poor, refugees, and recent immigrants. 

—Paavo Carey

Skipping a Grade Worked For Me

When I was in a one-room rural school many years ago, my teacher had to teach kids from first through eighth grade, so our school was pretty individualized. “Should Students Be Allowed to Skip a Grade?” (Summer 2017). My teacher talked with my mom, and they decided to speed up my work that year, so I went through sixth and seventh grade in the same year. The next year I was an eighth grader. After that, starting high school just before my 13th birthday, I got along fine. All through my young-adult years, I felt that I had a head start on life

—Dorothy McDonald

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National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.