Ifanyi Bell has been a classroom teacher, a filmmaker, and currently develops and produces educational media for web-based, digital asset repositories at KQED.

By Ifanyi Bell

The U.S. Department of Education just launched an interesting, eye-catching new website, Teach.gov, intended to spearhead the department’s push to support the teaching profession. All it took was a single glance for my brain to be set simultaneously at ease and to be titillated. Was this a government website? With Flash? And color? And Oprah?

This is exactly the kind of initiative that the DOE needs to undertake in order to make itself more present as an organization. It’s a simple idea: Be more visible. Make a statement about the vision of education in America. Be an accessible source of support and guidance for our nations’ educators, and those aspiring to the task. Use the color orange.

In an administration that has hung its hat on the concept of change, it behooves our representatives and leaders to better manage the education brand. Having been an educator working in Boston Public Schools, it was easy to recognize the inconsistency of vision and motivation among school administrators, teachers and parents.

In an environment where there are myriad stakeholders, perspectives and needs, what we need now is for the leaders of our educational system to lead with a distinctive presence. An initiative to let educators across the nation know that regardless of their perspective, or their diverse ideas about how to teach, that they are not alone out there fighting for the minds of our youth against materialism, violence, racism, shrinking budgets, sexism, homophobia and video games. This might just be that voice.

  • Amanda

    I agree that the education profession needs a unifying voice and quite frankly, a bit of energy and optimism attached to it. Too often the good news and good work in teaching is buried under negative headlines and complaints from teachers and administrators. That's not to say that those folks don't have a lot to be unhappy about — they certainly do — but why not try to vocalize some of the hope and accomplishments that are present in public schools. I think the task the DOE really needs to take on is expanding this message into individual schools and communities.

  • Leili

    “it was easy to recognize the inconsistency of vision and motivation among school administrators, teachers and parents” – that’s key, I think – the “inconsistency of vision” is so key. Getting clearer on conceptual frameworks for social action can guide the actions of even huge, complex organizations. I wonder if this site will do any of that?

    • Ifanyi Bell

      Well, it certainly seems like this is what Arne and the DOE are working toward. In my opinion, the new site is only a small step forward, but a clear signal. I’m keeping an eye on the page, but more so looking for a gesture from the administration that is simultaneously symbolic and practical.

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