The mission of the U.S. Department of Education is to "ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation." In order to achieve this mission, the Department must remain constantly responsive to, and supportive of, classroom teachers. It is crucial that policy makers work in close partnership with practitioners who know the education system intimately and understand what support is needed.
Secretary Riley appointed me, a veteran teacher, to be his special adviser, because he felt it was critical to have a classroom teacher on his immediate staff to serve as a "reality check" on our policies, programs and legislation. It's exciting to work for an administration that places a high value on teachers. My position allows me to reach out to all of you in the field, so that the Department can continue to benefit from your insight and experience as it implements its policies and delivers support services to schools.
The New Teacher's Guide to the U.S. Department of Education is designed to provide information about the latest departmental initiatives, an update on specific programs for schools and teachers, and a complete listing of the services and resources, both at our headquarters here in Washington, D.C, and in the field. With this in mind, its introductory pages provide information on the Department's seven priorities, with detailed information on the teaching priority and a summary page on each of the other priorities. The introduction also presents information on President Clinton's new Voluntary National Testing initiative and information on the national standards that are being or have been developed by various professional education associations and societies.
The second part of the book contains information about the Department's grant programs and other programs that may be of interest to teachers. The Services and Resources section of the book provides detailed information about the services we provide and how to contact the various offices responsible for them. This section also provides a listing of federal Internet resources on education, which may be useful for teachers who use the Internet in their classrooms. The final section of the book provides information on various regional and field-based resources that the department funds through grants or contracts.
By compiling information on all of the U.S. Department of Education's services to teachers, we hope to increase teachers' access to the educational resources available throughout the country. I know that teachers aren't in the habit of looking to the U.S. Department of Education for help, but the Department offers many valuable programs, services and publications for teachers. Think of this publication as a road map. It provides a general description of programs within the Department, and it is also a reference for specific needs or questions. We hope this guide is one step in what will become a lively dialogue between teachers and the U.S. Department of Education.