Contest and Call for Submissions...

Call for 250-word submissions and a contest for your "Visions on Teaching!"

Teachers, SPED Pros, and school administrators let your voice be heard!
Be a part of our plea for legislators and DoE to fix the REAL problems with education!

Submission deadline: Closes 30 October 2014 (Extended to 1 November due to HARO posting delay)
Submit to:

The second edition of the KIRKUS and CLARION acclaimed book, "Lifting the Curtain: The disgrace we call urban high school education" is underway, and we are looking for more great teacher input to publish in the new edition, and to let people finally see from a classroom teacher’s perspective what has happened, especially during the past five years in high schools, to undermine and hands-tie our ability to teach.

RESULTS: As submissions are reviewed by our panel we will post the status of all submissions on our blog under the tab "CONTEST RESULTS." If you wish to see and comment on new submissions as they arrive, and to be an active part of our "Visions on Teaching" initiative, please be sure to FOLLOW our Blog at LiftingTheCurtainOnEducation.

PLEASE NOTE – All submissions, to be considered for inclusion in the book
and to be eligible for prizes MUST meet the terms and conditions listed below,
specifically including your acceptance of the release form.

The reward:

  • IMPORTANT: Due to the reality of repercussions in most high schools if you are identified with a critical comment about education, any use of your piece in the 2nd edition, or on our website, Facebook page, or blog, will be anonymous unless you specifically request use of a first name and initial, or the use of a first and last name.
  • Use of submissions: Up to two dozen submissions will be selected to appear in the heart of the 2nd edition – embedded in the relevant chapters, not on a separate marketing page.
  • We reserve the right to increase the number of winners should entries in categories be especially relevant to the themes and goals of Lifting the Curtain: The disgrace we call urban high school education.
  • Bio: All selected submissions will also have a brief bio listed in the appendix.
  • Free copy: All submissions selected to be included will win a free paperback copy of the 2nd edition, which will include your submission, shortly after publication.
  • Dedication: The free copy will be dedicated to you, personally.
  • Button: All submissions selected to be included also will receive one of our whimsical buttons “I don’t teach anymore – I’m too busy complying with mandates.”
  • First prize: The best entry, selected by a panel that includes active classroom teachers, will also receive an Amazon gift card for $250.
  • 2nd and 3rd prize: The second and third best entries will also receive an Amazon gift card for $150.
  • Your voice heard: All submissions selected or wait-listed will appear on our blog, website, our Facebook page, and other related sites. Some submissions not selected or wait-listed because of strong competition for that topic will also be published.
  • Credit: Your submission will be attributed to “anonymous,” unless you choose otherwise. You have your choice of three attributions. It will be in the format: Clair T, High School Math teacher, Nebraska – or – Anonymous, High School Special Ed, retired, Michigan - or - Jim Jones, High School History teacher, Alaska.
  • Contest start: 8 October, 2014
  • Contest close: 30 October, 2014
  • Anticipated announcement of winners: 21 November, 2014
  • Estimated publication of 2nd edition: January or February 2015

What the new edition will include

  • A new overview chapter
  • Many submissions from teachers (this call for submissions) with 250-word passages from classroom teachers about the real problems with urban high school education from the unique and rarely heard perspective of experienced classroom teachers..
  • Additional coverage of the loss of arts and elective courses.
  • Additional coverage of administrative intimidation of teachers critical of education mandates and policies
  • References to the many recent news stories and polls that strongly support what we described and predicted in the first edition.
  • Many excellent ideas triggered by all the reviews and e-mails we have received.
  • Feedback from hundreds of teachers via Facebook or our Blog
What we are looking for from you

  • A 250-word (max) submission by experienced classroom teachers and SPED pros (and maybe a brave administrator or two) to be embedded within the main book chapters (they will not be just on a promo page).
  • You may enter up to three submissions. However, even in the event that more than one of your submissions is selected for inclusion in the new edition, you will receive only one prize – the highest one you qualify for.
  • The submissions must be original and your thoughts (a vignette, data based upon your experiences, general observations…) about one of the topics listed below. If you have actually purchased and read the book, and have another topic idea not listed, first shoot me an e-mail about your idea.
  • High school classroom teaching experiences are preferred.
  • Critical comments about specific people will be edited out or disqualify a submission. A reference to a major, verifiable publication that refers to a specific individual might be acceptable. That reference must be in the form:"LA Times, 12 April 2013, "The trouble with Tribbles."
  • Embedded links and product/service promotions will be rejected.
  • While reading a copy of Lifting the Curtain certainly will help a potential submission contribute to and be relevant to one of the book's chapters, you do not have to purchase a copy to submit an entry.
  • If you do not own the first edition of Lifting The Curtain, you can get a lot of information from the following sources:
The Process and required publication release form

  • Send an e-mail to with your submission for consideration.
  • All submissions will get a quick acknowledgement of receipt, and notice of rejection if missing the two required cut-and-paste sections listed below.
  • You will be notified if your submission is selected for inclusion, or is wait-listed until more submissions are evaluated. Depending upon the volume of entries, it might take a week or two for our panel to make a decision. The release statement, below, includes your permission for us to display any submissions on our website, our blogs, our Facebook page, and other similar marketing usages.
  • We will probably not be able to notify you about non-selected submissions until after the contest workload subsides on the ending gate.
  • You might receive a request to make edits to grammar or clarity of your submission, or to delete a critical reference to a specific individual. You will never be asked to edit your views.
  • Your book will be mailed to the address we will request if you are chosen as a winner. It should be mailed out once the press proofs are approved and I can purchase a first run of the new edition -- roughly estimated as the January or February 2015.

  • The e-mail MUST include the following information (cut and paste it into your e-mail) or your submission will not be considered:

    Select one:
    • ___ Identify me as anonymous
    • ___ Identify me as ________________ (First name and initial only)
    • ___ Identify me as ________________ (First name and last name)
    My Bio (for inclusion in the appendix):
    Any links or product/service references will be edited out. Maximum 50 words:
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    • _____________________________________________________________
    My profession is:
    • ___ Teacher
    • ___ SPED
    • ___ School Administration
    • ___ Other ____________________
    Course or specialty __________________ (Ex: Math, Special Ed, Music)
    Grade level:
    • ___ Elementary
    • ___ Middle school
    • ___ High School
    I am:
    • ___ Active
    • ___ Retired
    My school is/was located:
    • ___ the USA state of _______________________
    • ___ other _______________________

  • Your submission must also include the following full release (cut and paste it into your e-mail) or your submission will not be considered:
    The enclosed submission is my work and is being provided to D.A. Russell and with full rights for inclusion, if accepted, in the 2nd and subsequent editions of the book Lifting the Curtain, and also for use on related web, blog, Facebook and other media for the purpose of marketing the book and promoting the call for help from legislators, parents and DoEs to help fix the real problems with education. If the submission is selected and included, I attest that I am the full and sole owner of the submission, and that I will receive no compensation for the use of my submission other than the one-time prize as outlined in the call for submissions.
A list of topics you can use for your submission

  • (New Topic) To what extent have you witnessed instances of administrative “bullying” to intimidate teachers, including intentional misuse of a charge such as “inappropriate touching.”
  • (New Topic)If you are homeschooling, what were the major factors that led you to that choice?
  • Misuse of SPED by parents forcing unwarranted IEPs armed with lawyers and paid advocates
  • The loss of Arts and elective courses in schools
  • Your experiences with inclusion classes.
  • Current levels of student expectations and motivations
  • Degree of parent involvement – especially parents of struggling students
  • Your degree of support from administration when there is a parent conflict
  • The amount of time that is mandated for non-teaching duties
  • Cronyism at your school in assignment of classes and paid positions (including coaching, honor society, senior class advisors, LGBT club, etc.)
  • The impact on children when they learn a school will exert substantial pressure on teachers to find a way to pass them
  • Parent expectations on the teacher to pass their child
  • Your experiences if in a school relegated or taken over due to low graduation rates or standardized test results
  • Your views of the degree to which the problems in Urban high schools do, or do not, apply to suburban and/or rural high schools.
  • The role of your local union – efforts spent PAC-related versus helping fix education
  • Things that routinely limit teaching time – either mandates on you, or student-specific reasons
  • Student homework performance
  • Student cheating and plagiarism
  • The amount of time and in-class impact of non-curricula “baby sitting” duties such as monitoring allergies (peanuts, sunscreen, perfume, latex…), food and drinks, drugs, whispers that could be potential bullying, cell phones, time out of class at bathroom, etc.
  • The pressure to dumb-down teaching, allow make-overs, or give extra-credit packages to insure children pass regardless of effort.
  • The degree to which current school administrators are trained and experienced sufficiently to handle the complex legal and management environment of an urban high school.
  • The impact on expectation and motivation for those students who have the “Can retake any test” IEP accommodation and/or the “…gets an “A” for doing 50% of the expected class work” IEP accommodation
  • Your view of the mandates produced by career bureaucrats in your state or federal DoE
  • Your view of the value of PDP classes
  • The attitude and “esprit-de-corps” at your school – happy campers or burned out teachers
  • The degree to which DoE and school administration mandate conflict with one-another, and add up to many more minutes than available per class