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Archive for February, 2009

Becoming Señora Wallace: Paying for grad school

Here’s the breakdown:

$18,000 approx. cost of UW Masters in Teaching Program (including my additional pre-requisites)
– $4,000 approx. aid received from my AmeriCorps Education Award after taxes
– $8,000 TEACH Grant
———
$ 6,000

Wait, that sounds slightly affordable… There has to be a catch, right? Right.

TEACH Grant recipients must agree to teach for four years in a “high-need field” in a designated low-income school within eight years of graduating from their master’s program. If the recipient does not fulfill this four-year service agreement, the grant will be converted into an unsubsidized loan with retroactive interest.

Fortunately for me, foreign language falls into the “high-need field” category, and I can’t ever see myself teaching anywhere but in a low-income school.

Still, accepting this grant is a big deal. The strings attached to the TEACH Grant oblige prospective teachers to a significant time commitment. Plus, what if teaching isn’t a good fit, or what if a teacher is unsuccessful in low-income schools? What if he or she chooses (or is instructed) to teach another subject that’s not considered a designated high-need field (i.e. English, history, music, art)?

Answer: It’ll cost you dearly. The TEACH Grant definitely raises concerns. In these cases, the TEACH “Grant” is no longer a grant.

Estimated monthly repayment amounts of loans from a TEACH Grant:
• $4000 TEACH Grant
o Pay $50 per month
o Repayment will take 8.75 years
o Total repayment would be $5,343.75

• $8000 TEACH Grant
o Pay $92 per month
o Repayment will take 10 years
o Total repayment would be $11,047.20 — it could cost me about $3,050 to change my mind!

This is another costly aspect that prospective teachers need to consider before accepting financial aid that sounds too good to be true. For the government, this offer produces a high return on investment. However, considering the default terms, prospective teachers may not see this grant as an incentive. There must be less binding ways to attract people to this field. Nevertheless, I need to get going on my TEACH Grant entrance counseling. I’m taking the plunge!

Posted in: Higher Education

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Why go to the trouble of collecting endorsements?

Endorsements are one of the critical tools in the bag of tools that a grassroots organizer uses. The most important tool, the hammer, is your email list of contacts, but your screwdriver, your second most important tool is endorsements.

Endorsements make people “think”, and they make people “do”. The group has to listen, decide, and vote. This engages the group in a way a simple presentation never does.

All groups, including 501c3 nonprofit organizations can endorse a ballot measure, or bill going through the legislature. Yes ALL groups can endorse a bill. This includes Kiwanis, Rotary, PTA, Soccer teams, etc. Of course, culturally they may not want to endorse, they may feel uncomfortable. But endorsing is absolutely within the legal requirements of a nonprofit organization.

Endorsements really are like a screwdriver, they keep working and working and working. Simply engaging your organization by making them think about an issue and act on the issue is incredibly powerful. But there are two other things that happen when an organization endorses. The endorsement can be used as a public tool, and it creates a snowball effect with other organizations.

An endorsement means a group of people have all agreed that this bill or issue is a good idea. The endorsement carries more weight, is more effective because more than one person has agreed to the concept. Now you take this endorsement and you inform the public. You say, my group, X has endorsed this bill. You tell your legislators, you tell your community in your local newspaper, you tell your larger organizations. If your PTA endorses, you should tell other PTA’s in your area, you should tell the state PTA, tell your legislators, send a letter to the editor to tell your community, each of those “tells” influences people to think and maybe to act themselves.

The screwdriver keeps turning. When one group endorses, it makes it easier for other groups to endorse, they point at each other and think, they did it…why can’t we? If one city council endorses, it makes it easier for another, and another and another…the screwdriver keeps turning until we have bolted the idea in.

Endorsements are very, very effective tools in your grassroots toolbag. Let’s get to work.

Want to hear how a local School Board endorsement went – watch this short You Tube Video.

Kelly Munn, LEV’s State Field Director, describes testimony from teachers and parents on a resolution to support the Basic Education Task Force legislation (HB1410/SB5444) at the Issaquah School Board meeting on Thursday, February 5th. The resolution was adopted that night.

Posted in: Advocacy and Activism

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Becoming Señora Wallace: Identity Crisis: Quack goes the…Dawg?

It’s official — I am headed for Huskydom.

How did I decide? First of all, I just couldn’t justify paying $30K for Seattle U (almost twice as much as the UW Masters in Teaching program costs).

More importantly, UW’s new and improved Secondary Teacher Education Program seems like an appropriate fit. These are the highlights and advantages that convinced me to…gulp…become a Husky:

– I can pursue a second endorsement in ESL right off the bat (once again, it’s cost effective!).

– I will take classes through the summer, and I get to work with a high school summer program!

– After four quarters, I will wrap up “traditional coursework” and have the spring (2010) free to hunt for job openings.

– I will have my own classroom by fall 2010! While I won’t earn my master’s until after my first year of teaching, I will have ongoing support during the first year. Plus, the capstone project I will complete during the second year of the program will prepare me to pursue National Board Certification.

Three years ago during my last term at the University of Oregon, if someone told me I’d be headed to UW to become a teacher, I probably would have laughed. Yet, here I am — less than two months from being a full-time student again, and I can’t imagine pursuing any other path.

Posted in: Higher Education

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