Science, Education, and Science Education

classroom applications
August 2nd, 2012 by Luann

Twenty Teachers, and Arne Duncan

I had the opportunity to view an important movie this week. I’ve seen it once before. Both times, I watched with a group of the finest educators I’ve ever met. The movie was especially hard-hitting for us because we’ve shared their journey, their tears, and their triumphs.


The movie is Mitchell 20.  Nancy Flanagan reviewed it much more thoroughly than I ever could.

I propose that everyone with a stake in education (children, for example) find a screening of this movie or view it at the website (Watch a preview there. You can get a 7-day pass for $5.00 and can make a DVD if you wish).  Then watch it again, because the first time you see it, you’ll be too amazed/shocked/sad/angry/uplifted for the meaning to sink in.

In short, the teachers, led by one amazing colleague who had just achieved National Board Certification, decided to work as a team to pursue this level of certification. Watching this teacher in her classroom, with her colleagues, and discussing her practice with the reporter leaves you no doubt that you’d want her to teach your children. I won’t post any spoilers, but I can say that not every teacher in the building was able to pursue certification. Not all had the necessary years of experience.  A few had family circumstances that prevented them from investing the time and energy during this particular year. The work of the 20 teachers who completed the process impacted the practice of those who did not. The energy of this group as they worked to provide the best learning environment for their students is palpable.  It’s contagious. No matter what else happened, children learned. Children learned.

I’d like to call your attention to this particular clip, posted on Youtube by the producers of Mitchell 20 and linked because for some reason, I can’t embed the video. It’s short, 42 seconds.

The Secretary of Education of the United States appears a few times in the movie. In this clip, Mr. Duncan is referring to the efforts of the wonderful, dedicated teachers at the Mitchell school as they worked together as a collaborative team,  their pursuit of National Board Certification.

Listen closely. Mr. Duncan credits the National Board process for this school’s success in turning the school around to meet AYP? He openly praised the efforts of these teachers, and credits them with successfully turning their school around. Lastly, Mr. Duncan stated that if every school would follow in the Mitchell 20 footsteps, schools would be so successful that he could retire to the Bahamas.

I think we’re on to something.

I’m challenging every school to follow the lead of the Mitchell 20.National Board Certification is the best professional development available, magnified when a cohort of teachers in the same building undertake the process together.  If you are a teacher, you will become a more accomplished teacher.  If you are a parent, your child will have a teacher who can provide him with the very best. And if you are Mr. Duncan, you get to retire to the Bahamas.

Most importantly, children learn. And that’s why we’re here. Are you ready for the challenge?


2 Responses to “Twenty Teachers, and Arne Duncan”
  1. Well, I love this challenge. It will be made vastly more difficult by the fact that the federal education budget (the one that supports Arne Duncan’s goals and dreams) no longer includes the National Board (which, ironically, got about $10 million/year in the Bush years, largely due to widespread, across-the-aisle support in Congress). Monies for teacher quality went instead to Teach for America.

    There’s rhetoric. And there’s action. I’m not sure why the National Board’s unqualified success has been ignored in the USDOE budgeting process. Because they’ve actually produced something: a phalanx of vetted, high-performing veteran teacher leaders. Think about that…

  2. Nancy, for the life of me, I cannot understand why you do not acknowledge that the actions by corporate ed reform make it abundantly clear that they are not interested in high-performing veteran teachers. You really don’t know why the NBPTS has been ignored? Really?

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