A New York City high school teacher is one of three fellowship winners who, come Monday morning, will begin new jobs in Washington, D.C., as full-time employees of the Obama administration’s Department of Education.
In the middle of June, Jason Raymond, who has taught English and journalism at the High School for Law and Public Service for seven years, learned that he had been chosen for the department’s Teaching Ambassador Fellowship. He quickly packed up and moved to D.C., where he will be part of a program created by the previous secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, to bring teachers into the rooms where education policy is crafted.
Raymond, 38, whose expertise is in adolescent literacy, college readiness, and urban schools, said he will be working in the office of elementary and secondary education.
“I’m going to be bringing my teacher voice to policy,” he said, explaining that he would sit in on conversations about certain grants the DOE planned to distribute. As a Washington fellow, it will be Raymond’s job to point out proposed ideas that may not work well in the classroom and suggest alternatives, but the scope of his influence will be limited.
“It won’t be that I’m sitting in a room with other policy experts and saying you know here’s what I think we should do,” he said, noting that the details of what he’d be focusing on were still be worked out.
Raymond and the two other Washington fellows will also be responsible for talking to teachers to get a sense of where they stand on certain policy issues and to explain the administration’s actions.
“I’m always looking to sort of expand my role as a teacher and become more of a teacher leader and it seemed like a great opportunity to do that,” Raymond said. Asked how much contact he would have with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Raymond said he wasn’t sure.
In a press release, Duncan called teacher involvement “crucial,” to the department’s plans. “I look forward to working with this year’s fellows as partners as we discuss how to recognize and reward teachers, professional advancement, high standards and other key issues,” he said.
The DOE also selected 10 teachers to be classroom fellows, meaning that they will continue their regular teaching jobs but will occasionally act as consultants. Nearly 1,400 applications were submitted for the 13 positions.
After his fellowship ends in August of next year, Raymond said he plans to return to teaching in New York.