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Inquiring Minds: Networks of Note

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Teacher networks come in all shapes and sizes. Some are national in scope, while others cover only one state or region. Some focus on a specific subject, while others target such topics as diversity, assessment, or bilingual education. The list that follows is not intended to be exhaustive. Rather, it seeks to suggest the range of options for teachers in search of professional development through a network of peers with similar interests.

Bread Loaf Rural Teachers Network

Founded in 1984
Contact: Dixie Goswami, Coordinator
Bread Loaf Office
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
Phone: (802) 388-3711, ext. 5360
E-mail: info@breadnet.middlebury.edu

Purpose: Bread Loaf brings together rural teachers--both in person and through BreadNet, the teachers' electronic network--who want to improve students' experiences with literature and writing. It receives grants from Apple Computer Inc. and the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, among others. Last year, the Bread Loaf School was named a first-round partner in the Annenberg Rural Challenge and will help oversee the dispensing of $50 million in grants for rural schools.

Number of Participants: About 500 teachers have been involved since its founding.

Scope: Six states--Alaska, Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Vermont--participate.

California Subject-Matter Projects

The project began in 1970, and the state fully authorized the network in 1989.
Contact: Robert Polkinghorn Jr., Executive Director
University of California
Office of the President
300 Lakeside Drive, 18th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612-3550
Phone: (510) 987-9505
E-mail: robert.polkinghorn@ucop.edu

Purpose: The network strives to improve teaching of all subjects, at all grade levels. It also aims to cultivate a vibrant, professional culture of and for teachers that provides them with ongoing support to meet the challenges of a teaching career in California. The projects are administered by the University of California, with the cooperation of the state education department and several higher education groups.

Participants: About 65,000 teachers take part each year.

Scope: The network consists of nine statewide, subject-specific projects, with a total of about 100 sites.

Collaboratives for Humanities and Arts Teaching (CHART)

Founded in 1985
Contact: Dennis Lubeck, Coordinator
13157 Olive SPur Road
St. Louis, MO 63141
Phone: (314) 576-3535, ext. 141
E-mail: dennis@info.csd.org

Purpose: The CHART network works to improve teaching in arts and humanities in elementary and secondary schools and to be an advocate for those subjects. It receives funds from the Rockefeller and Danforth foundations, among others. It is now in its second year of a grant to plan a national expansion.

Number of Participants: An estimated 5,000 teachers have been involved since 1985.

Scope: There are 14 sites nationwide, including Pittsburgh, Miami, and New York City.

Diversity and Excellence Working for the Education of Youth (DEWEY)

Founded in 1993
Contact: Tamara Lucas, Project Director
National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching
Box 110, Teachers College
Columbia University
525 W. 120th St. New York, N.Y. 10027
Phone: (212) 678-3389
E-mail: er144@columbia.edu

Purpose: Dewey links teachers, school and district administrators, parents, and community members. Its focus is to bring about reform to ensure equity and excellence for all students, including students of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Number of Participants: Approximately 400.

Scope: Eight school districts that are suburbs of New York City.

Foxfire National Programs

Founded in 1986
Contact: Bobby Starnes, Director, Foxfire FundFoxfire Fund Inc.
P.O. Box 541
Mountain City, Ga. 30562
Phone: (706) 746-5828
E-mail: foxfirefnd@aol.com

Purpose: The network's aim is to help teachers improve the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms using Foxfire's approach, which stresses hands-on experiences for students. It is underwritten by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, among others.

Number of Participants: Since the outreach effort began, more than 4,000 teachers have been trained in the Foxfire approach.

Scope: Foxfire has 19 networks in various states and regions, including the Eastern Shore of Virginia, New Hampshire, and Hawaii. There are also several urban Foxfire sites.

Geography Alliance

Founded in 1986
Contact: Joe Ferguson, Assistant Director
National Geographic Society
Geography Education Program
1145 17th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: (202) 775-6701
E-mail: gep@nationalgeographic.com

Purpose: The network offers professional development for teachers of social studies and other subjects interested in integrating geography into the curriculum. The sites are financed by the society and through matching grants, primarily from state governments.

Number of Participants: An estimated 120,000 teachers, administrators, parents, and others participate.

Scope: The network reaches all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

History Teaching Alliance

Founded in 1993
Contact: Christine Compston, Director
Department of History
Western Washington University
Bellingham, Wash. 98225-9506
Phone: (360) 650-3096
E-mail: compston@cc.wwu.edu

Purpose: The alliance is part of the National History Education Network, a coalition of groups that serves as a clearinghouse for history-education information and works to bring teachers together with university scholars and others to ensure that education reform, new policies, and curricula are consistent with good history education.

Number of Participants: A total of 30 national organizations and about 300 individuals, most of them teachers, are members.

Scope: The alliance has members across the nation.

Impact II

Founded in 1980 Contact: Ellen Meyers, Vice President
285 West Broadway
Room 540
New York, N.Y. 10013
Phone: (212) 966-5582
E-mail: teachnet@teachnet.org
(Also: http://www/teachnet.org/ on the World Wide Web.)

Purpose: Impact II identifies and links innovative teachers who exemplify professionalism and creativity within a school district. It documents and disseminates school-change projects and produces and distributes a line of publications and videos created by teachers.

Number of Participants: Some 30,000 teachers have received grants since the network's founding.

Scope: There are 26 sites nationwide, including Los Angeles and Fairfax County, Va.

National Writing Project

Founded in 1973
Contact: Richard Sterling, Executive Director
615 University Hall, #1040
University of California
Berkeley, Calif. 94720-1040
Phone: (510) 642-0963
E-mail: nwp@garnet.berkeley.edu

Purpose: The project is a nonprofit national network for K-12 classroom teachers that aims to improve the teaching of writing and the quality of student writing and learning. It is funded by the federal government, participating states, and local sites, and such organizations as the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Number of Participants: More than 1.4 million teachers and administrators participated between 1973 and 1994.

Scope: The project has 160 sites in 43 states and Puerto Rico.

Urban Mathematics Collaboratives

Founded in 1985
Contact: Joseph Merlino, Network Co-Chair
Graduate Program in Education
LaSalle University
1900 W. Olney Ave.
Philadelphia, Pa. 19141
Phone: (215) 951-1203
E-mail: merling@lasalle.edu

Purpose: The collaboratives bring together math teachers from urban schools, higher-education faculty, and business professionals to enrich math instruction and broaden access to rigorous courses. The Rockefeller Foundation provided most start-up funding, but many sites now get support from federal and state governments, school districts, and private organizations.

Number of Participants: Typically, 200 or more teachers participate at each site.

Scope: There are currently 14 sites, including Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and New Orleans.

Vermont's Portfolio Networks

Founded in 1991
Mary Ann Minardo, Assessment Coordinator
Vermont Department of Education
120 State St.
Montpelier, Vt. 05620-2501
Phone: (802) 828-5410

Purpose: Through the networks, accomplished teachers work to help their colleagues learn how to use portfolio assessments in math and writing. The program relies on funds from the state and from federal Eisenhower grants.

Number of Participants: Approximately 1,500 teachers are members.

Scope: All of the state's 60 school districts are involved.

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