Thank a Teacher


Three Policies To Support Teachers For Teacher Appreciation Week

We all know teachers in our lives who helped us more than we could ever fully appreciate. Well, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week, the time for all of us to let our teachers know how much they are valued by their students and the communities they serve. For the occasion, the Center for American Progress released this video showing what happens when you ask principals and administrators to thank a teacher.

But we can do more than just say thank you. We also must pass public policies that support and empower teachers to do their jobs well. Here are three such suggestions:

1. Pay them more: The average starting salary for teachers across the country is $36,141, 40 percent lower than the average starting salary of workers with college degrees, which deters younger teachers from staying in the field. We should boost teacher pay so they earn what they deserve, and so that students can learn from the best teachers we have to offer.

2. Give them meaningful leadership opportunities: Teachers should always feel valued in the work they are doing, but we should strengthen that by creating more teacher leadership roles in classrooms, schools and districts. A collaborative approach between management and teachers is crucial, especially for development new teaching materials and implementing reforms such as the Common Core. And student learning will improve as a result.

3. Reauthorize a federal education bill that supports teachers instead of failing them: The federal government has an important role to play in education by insuring that our students and teachers get a proper level of support. However, early versions of the federal education reauthorization bill would have opened the door to severe budget cuts, diluted targeted funding for teachers and cut $163 million of federal spending on Title II, funding designed to support teachers. Policymakers need to make sure that isn’t the case.

BOTTOM LINE: Be sure to take a moment thank a teacher this week. But also remember that a great way to thank our teachers is to support them with policies that give them the tools to help every student succeed.

#FixCongressNow! Support and Vote for Scott Peters

The House is in session five days a week 20 percent of the time. One member wants to change that.

April 6, 2015

During the impressively unimpressive 113th Congress, we looked at the regularity which with Congress was in session. Only about 40 percent of weekdays since 1975, we found, were the House or Senate in session, the sort of work product that might get you fired as a 16-year-old lifeguard, though not as a federal legislator. One response to that article was that Congress does work when it’s not in session, like holding town halls and so on in their districts. Which is largely true, but is also very convenient.

For Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), who recently started his second term in the House, the excuse apparently doesn’t hold much water. Last week, he introduced a proposal to #FixCongressNow (apparently including the hashtag for some reason). First on the list? “Institute 5-Day Congressional work weeks.”


“Average Americans work five days a week so there is no reason Congress should not be required to as well,” Peters’ proposal reads. “A five-day work week would increase the time members of Congress are able to spend together working on substantive legislation and would help foster bipartisan working relationships.”

How rare is a House five-day-work week? Pretty rare, in fact. Here’s every time the House has been in session five weekdays in a row since 1975.

To put a fine point on it, they are in session for five weekdays in a row 20 percent of the time. (At least that’s consistent; it hasn’t been any lower over the last decade.)

Two more details about Peters’ proposal. First, it also would increase the number of weeks Congress is in session to 39. (This year, they’re slotted for 34.) And, second, it will never pass, any more than if a colleague asked for your vote to extend your workday by two hours. That’s a tough majority to put together.

That there hasn’t been any movement on the bill yet isn’t a surprise. Congress has been on recess for Easter for a week. They’re off this week, too.

SIGN YOUR NAME — Demand Congress work five-day work weeks >>


Tuition- Free Community College

whitehousebannerIn this week’s address, the Vice President laid out his and the President’s plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students.Access to higher education has a tangible impact on a student’s success: Those with an associate’s degree earn 25% more than folks who graduated high school, and those with a four-year degree make 70% more. Not only that, but a better educated citizenry is necessary to ensure that the United States continues to out-compete the rest of the world.

Making two years of community college free is good for workers, good for companies, and good for our economy. And this proposal is part of the President’s broader vision for middle-class economics: that everybody who works hard deserves their fair shot and the chance to get ahead.

Watch the Vice President’s Weekly Address here.

Watch Vice President Biden's address here.

Top Stories
Why We Support Banning Conversion TherapyMore than 120,000 people signed a petition calling for a ban on the dangerous and unacceptable practice of conversion therapy — and on Wednesday, we responded. The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy is neither medically or ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm. That’s why the Obama administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.

See our full petition response.


Barack in Jamrock

President Obama headed to Kingston, Jamaica on Thursday, meeting with Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, as well as other Caribbean leaders on the importance of improving energy security and fighting climate change. He also held a town hall with the Young Leaders of the Americas — and swung by a museum dedicated to Bob Marley.

Find out more about the President's trip to Jamaica.


The 137th-Annual White House Easter Egg Roll

On Monday, President Obama and the First Lady welcomed more than 35,000 guests to the South Lawn for the 137th-annual White House Easter Egg Roll. This year’s theme was #GimmeFive to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative.

See the highlights from this year's Easter Egg Roll.


To see more from the past week, watch the latest edition of West Wing Week here.

Racism Is Real- Real Story Behind Baltimore

Brave New Films
To be a person of color in 2015 comes with shocking racial bias and discrimination in many aspects of your everyday life. Study after study has proved this through facts on hiring, criminal justice and more*.How to take those facts and reach an audience that would rather have a root canal than read a study was the task at hand for us at Brave New Films.And so we created, Racism is Real- the #BaltimoreUprising is a symptom of a much larger problem.

From understanding that reality, change can happen.


This video has already reached over 29 million people on Facebook and YouTube! Major press outlets like the Washington Post, Time Magazine, Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed have featured it. And now we need you to share it with even more people!

Join us. Fight back against racism.

Robert Greenwald, President

P.S.  Our next video will take police brutality head on! We are racing to raise the money to get the short film done. Donate what you can today to help us make this film!

*Read more about the studies used in this piece here.