Busting the school bureaucracy: A curriculum for cage-busting teachers - AEI

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Event Summary

On Thursday afternoon, Frederick M. Hess released his new curriculum for aspiring teacher leaders and hosted a panel discussion around the importance of giving teachers a “cage-busting” mindset. Based around his book “The Cage-Busting Teacher” (Harvard Education Press, 2015), the curriculum aims to help teachers cut through rules and regulations (the “cage”) to make decisions that best serve their students.

After Dr. Hess presented the curriculum, he introduced a panel of four current or former teachers: Joshua Parker, Peggy Stewart, Wendy Uptain, and Dianna Wentzell. Mr. Parker reminded the audience of all the things teachers have on their plates and stressed that cage-busting cannot simply be one more item on their to-do list. Dr. Wentzell, the Connecticut commissioner of education, explained that teachers already have the tools they need to influence education policy, but they do not always realize it. Ms. Uptain agreed, urging teachers to give policymakers solutions and take initiative rather than waiting for a seat at the table. Ms. Stewart chimed in on the importance of teachers’ mindset when pursuing their cage-busting ideas: “no” simply means “not right now.” Panelists closed by answering questions from the audience and discussing what steps states might take to promote teacher leadership.

— Jenn Hatfield

Event Description

Too many teachers are trapped in the “cage” of misguided policies, inattentive administrators, and inadequate funding. It does not have to be this way. To change the situation, teachers need to adopt a cage-busting mindset and figure out how they can make the cage work for them rather than against them. “The Cage-Busting Teacher” online curriculum will help equip teachers to break through the school bureaucracy and make decisions that best serve their students.

Join AEI as Frederick M. Hess discusses the importance of cage-busting with a panel of expert teachers and introduces “The Cage-Busting Teacher” online curriculum.

Join the conversation on social media with #cagebusting.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


3:45 PM

4:00 PM
Frederick M. Hess, AEI

4:15 PM
Panel discussion

Joshua Parker, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School; 2012 Maryland Teacher of the Year
Peggy Stewart, National Network of State Teachers of the Year; 2005 New Jersey Teacher of the Year
Wendy Uptain, Hope Street Group
Dianna Wentzell, Connecticut State Department of Education

Frederick M. Hess, AEI

5:00 PM

5:15 PM
Wine and cheese reception

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Jenn Hatfield at [email protected], 202.862.5859.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Frederick M. Hess is a resident scholar and director of education policy studies at AEI, where he studies K–12 and higher education issues. His books include “Educational Entrepreneurship Today”(Harvard Education Press, 2016), “The Cage-Busting Teacher” (Harvard Education Press, 2015), “Common Sense School Reform” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), “Cage-Busting Leadership” (Harvard Education Press, 2013), “Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age” (Corwin Press, 2013), “The Same Thing Over and Over” (Harvard University Press, 2010), and “Education Unbound” (ASCD, 2010). He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog “Rick Hess Straight Up” and is a regular contributor to The Hill. His work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, US News & World Report, National Affairs, USA Today, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and National Review. He has edited widely cited volumes on the Common Core, the role of for-profits in education, education philanthropy, school costs and productivity, the impact of education research, and No Child Left Behind. Dr. Hess serves as executive editor of Education Next, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, and on the review board for the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. He also serves on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and 4.0 SCHOOLS. A former high school social studies teacher, he teaches or has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University, and Harvard University.

Joshua Parker is the 2012 Maryland Teacher of the Year. He currently serves the students and teachers of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, DC, as an instructional coach. He started as a sports producer for Fox 45 of Baltimore before beginning his career in education. In the decade that followed, Mr. Parker has held various leadership positions from K–12 and higher education. Most recently, he completed a fellowship to Brazil as a Pearson Global Fellow in 2013. He is the first African American male educator from Baltimore County to win the state TOY award and keeps a blog on education and society at www.jpmusings83.blogspot.com.

Peggy Stewart is the 2005 New Jersey Teacher of the Year, a Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teacher, and a National Board Certified Teacher. She currently serves as the director of professional learning for the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). She has extensive experience in designing and facilitating professional learning. Before her position at NNSTOY, she was the director of professional development at the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning. She also served as chair of the New Jersey Professional Teaching Standards Board and is currently on the board of trustees for Learning Forward New Jersey. Ms. Stewart was previously a high school social studies teacher specializing in global education. She was also a Yale University senior fellow, which provided an opportunity for her to pursue her passion for Asian studies while participating in several field experiences in China and Mongolia. She received the US-Eurasia Award for Excellence in Teaching, which provided her an opportunity to work with educators in Kazakhstan. She was a member of the consortium that developed the Teacher Leader Model Standards and has codeveloped NNSTOY’s “Teachers Leading” professional learning modules, which she facilitates with educators nationwide.

Wendy Uptain began her career in the classroom as an educator and is a strong advocate of public education. After teaching for four years, she transitioned into education policy and advocacy. She founded the Hope Street Group Fellowship, a prestigious leadership program for teachers to learn about and influence national and state education policy. Since 2009, she has provided recommendations and consultation to national policymakers, state education agency leaders, and state legislators on issues such as educator evaluation and teacher preparation. Before that, Ms. Uptain worked at the US Department of Education in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, advising the assistant secretary on early learning. In 2011, she was honored as a White House Champion of Change for her work in education advocacy and community engagement. She has a B.A. in early childhood education from Brigham Young University and an M.P.A. in education policy from the George Washington University.

Dianna Wentzell has been an educator in Connecticut for more than 25 years. She was appointed as commissioner of education by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in April 2015, after serving as interim commissioner since January 2015. She began her career in education as a social studies teacher and later as a teacher for gifted students. Before her appointment as interim commissioner, she served as the State Department of Education’s chief academic officer, overseeing the Bureau of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment and the Standards Implementation Division. Before joining the department, Dr. Wentzell served as assistant superintendent of schools in Hartford and in district leadership positions with a focus on curriculum, instruction, and assessment in both South Windsor and the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) magnet schools. She has a bachelor’s degree in Russian studies from Mount Holyoke College, a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Hartford.

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