TNLI Work for 2010-2011: Education Advocacy

Luke Laurie

TNLI Fellow

Summary of Advocacy Work for 2010-2011 School Year

Einstein Summit and HIV Prevention Education

 

 

STEM Education, The Einstein Fellowship 20th Anniversary Summit, Summer 2010

 

During the Summer of 2010, I concluded my work from the previous year by taking part in the planning, coordinating, and implementing the 20th Anniversary Summit of the Einstein Fellowship. This year-long project  was implemented by a volunteer committee of former Einstein Fellows, and culminated in a Summit that occurred over 3 days in Washington, D.C. in June of 2010. The highlights of the Summit included: approximately 100 attendees; several whole group sessions and break out sessions on timely STEM education topics; a Congressional Reception; guests from several Federal agencies, the White House, and the Legislative Branch; participation by a few current and former Members of Congress; a Published report of proceedings of the Summit, and a list of ten policy recommendations.

 

My personal work on the Summit included working on the Planning Committee, Chairing the Program/Agenda subcommittee that developed the topics for the sessions and drafted the program, facilitating the plenary session on STEM education and the Reauthorization of ESEA, and sitting on the panels of the opening plenary session, STEM Education Policy Panel Discussion. I also was the Facilitator of the Einstein Summit Policy Team, which put together the policy recommendations culled from all of the sessions of the Summit, composed a one-page summary, and distributed the recommendations to dozens of lawmakers in the House and Senate. Digitally, these recommendations were distributed to all Capitol Hill staff.

 

500 copies of the printed report: “From the Classroom to Washington: Einsteins on Education Reform” were printed and distributed by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education.

 

More information on the Summit can be found at the following URL:

http://sites.google.com/site/einstein20summit/

 

The Report from the Summit can be found here:

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/E20%20Summit%20Report.pdf

 

The Policy Recommendations can be found here:

https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/policy-recommendations-on-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-einstein-fellowship/

 

Policy Recommendations on the 20th Anniversary of the Einstein Fellowship

 

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellows, some of the nation’s leading educators, gathered in Washington, DC on June 28-29, 2010, for a 20th Anniversary Summit.  Hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Summit brought together more than 80 current and former Einstein Fellows along with distinguished guest speakers from the White House, Federal agencies, national education organizations, and the U.S. Congress.  The goal of the Summit was to generate recommendations to inform and improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The Summit covered a variety of educational issues, including national curriculum standards, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and educational equity.

 

Recommendations of the Einstein Fellows:

Support initiatives to enable school systems to implement innovative teaching practices in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Increase funding for Pre-K-12 education, especially programs that impact each child as opposed to competitive grants.  Federal funding is vital to the maintenance and development of STEM programs in states and districts.

Establish national standards for science education and support provisions in the reauthorization of ESEA that give equal treatment to science as to mathematics and language arts. Science knowledge and skills, as part of a comprehensive STEM approach, are vital for all students and provide 21st Century workforce skills, promote national security and global competitiveness.

Include K-12 teachers, such as Einstein Fellows, in the formulation of professional development or curriculum.  The real world experience of classroom teachers is an overlooked asset when new programs are developed.

Base school and student assessment on multiple measures and formative assessments.

Create and fund a program to place science specialists to teach and coach in elementary schools.  Elementary schools can benefit from the presence of competent STEM teachers who also have skills in working with K-12 students.  They can teach STEM and also model effective strategies as instructional coaches.

Support legislation that encourages research-based instruction and teacher training.

Support federal programs to purchase science equipment and provide STEM training to teachers at the K-6 grade levels.  This will enable the delivery of inquiry-based, hands-on science experiences.

Establish guidelines to ensure all administrators are competent and knowledgeable in STEM education.  Student success and instructional quality depends on strong school leadership.

Support initiatives and funding to enable states and districts to lengthen the school day or school year.

HIV Prevention Education in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District

 

During the 2010-2011 school year, I spent considerable time pursuing local advocacy by continuing my work to improve HIV prevention education for junior high students in my school district. I had been working on this issue for four years through ongoing communication with other teachers, schools, and administrators. My district had not adopted or purchased new materials nor updated curriculum since before California updated its laws and guidelines governing the mandatory HIV prevention education in 2004.  Several discussions and meetings with Science Department chairs and life science teachers in the 2009-2010 school year had revealed that HIV prevention related health content was being taught with outdated materials, or in some cases not taught at all. Through my work and at my request the district began to hold meetings specifically to deal with this issue, during the 2010-2011 school year, to investigate the nature of what we were and were not teaching, to better understand the State’s requirements in this area, to discuss the sensitive nature of the subject matter, and to explore curriculum resources to help us meet our requirements and duty to our students.

 

My work included researching legal statutes, consulting State guidelines, talking with staff at the State Department of Education, reading health and sex education research, attending several meetings with administration and science teachers, building an extensive digital collection of resources for teachers, and making a presentation to the school board.

 

The results of this work allowed our district to create new policies to be in compliance with State law, and to begin the adoption process by piloting the Red Cross Positive Prevention Curriculum. I can happily report that I faced little resistance from the administration and the school board, though numerous discussions with teachers turned to debates over the nitty-gritty aspects of what and how to teach the sex-related content.

 

Below, I have included my comments to my school board upon the first introduction of the curriculum, prior to piloting. The remarks and our presentation of the curriculum was met with unanimous support and positive remarks from the entire board.

 

The curriculum materials were piloted and approved by the science teachers, and will now, during the 2011-2012 school year, go through the process of being cleared by various committees and going back to the school board for a final vote. I will participate in some of the presentations of the materials.

 

Link to the training workshop slideshow:

http://homepage.mac.com/mrlaurie/misc/hivinstruction.pdf

 

Link to the Positive Prevention Red Cross Curriculum:

http://www.positiveprevention.com/

 

Comments to the school Board on HIV Prevention Curriculum Pilot

 

I thank the board for allowing me to speak this evening,

 

In the field of education, we’re always operating within an economy of scarcity. Far from an ideal system for serving the needs of our students, we do not have not enough money, nor enough time, and we have too many students with tremendous needs; academic, social, behavioral, emotional and physical.

 

In the standards-based educational push of the last decade, we were caught up in fervor to enhance academic learning, specifically, of course, Math and Language Arts. Because resources and time are scarce, schools across the country eliminated programs and courses in the fine arts, health education, physical education, and even science. With this unbalanced approach, we were doing less to educate the whole child.

 

In our district, we haven’t done enough in recent years to provide our students with the health information and skills they need to make good choices about their sexual health.

 

The HIV Prevention Education requirement in State law is there to address issues that are vital to our youth. A large fraction of our students are sexually active, and many lack the knowledge and behavioral skills to protect themselves from disease or unintended pregnancy. Santa Barbara County has a teen pregnancy rate for latinas that is the highest rate in the State at 9%. That’s nearly 1 in 10 of our latina population, and three times the average rate for all California teens.

 

We all know that the challenges for teens who become parents are numerous. And challenging too, are the lives of our students who are being raised by young people who became parents too early themselves. We all bear the costs. And while the Red Cross curriculum is not specifically focused in preventing teen pregnancy, the same knowledge and skills they will gain from learning to prevent HIV will also prevent pregnancy and other sexually transmitted diseases.

 

The Red Cross Positive Prevention Curriculum provides a framework that teaches the means of transmission and prevention of HIV, but it also includes lessons on behavior and decision making, as well as identifying and avoiding risky situations, and developing refusal skills. The material in this curriculum is presented in a manner that is useful to teachers, and provides them with tools for handling controversial subjects sensitively.

 

I strongly encourage the board to support this committee’s work and to move forward with the pilot program for the Positive Prevention Curriculum. I also would like to encourage the board to support other improvements in health and sexual health education to provide our students with vital information and skills that will help them live healthy lives.

 

Thank you.

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The R2 Project Part 2

Blogpost from Luke Laurie’s Teacherblog: https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

Last time, I talked about how I was building the drivetrain for the remote controlled R2. Click here for Part 1.

It’s really important to me that this robot is mobile, and able to drive on smooth ground or carpet, while also being able to overcome bumps and dips. Being able to turn smoothly is extremely important.

At first, I had a wheel base of two wheels in the rear two legs providing the mobility, and a single immobile wheel that could roll or slide on a turn. The sliding worked acceptably on smooth surfaces, but just couldn’t cut it on the rug.

So, I researched Omniwheels. I found some very cool robots people have built out of LEGOs using omniwheels, and some omniwheels that you can even buy. (I can’t vouch for any of these wheels or the vendor) I love that the internet is full of people’s cool technology projects.

I found a fairly simple Omniwheel design out there somewhere, and attempted several modifications, but in the end, I settled on the design below. This wheel seems pretty effective at allowing R2 to drive forward and backward in a fairly straight line without too many bumps, while also turning pretty smoothly. For now, this is what I’ll use, but I may consider other options.

 

The R2 Project Part 1

Blog Post from Luke Laurie’s Teacher Blog: https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

My son received an R2-D2 aquarium as a gift a while back, but we never had it set up with fish. After siting around for a while as a decoration, I got the idea of putting some mechanical and electronic components into it and turning it into a robot. After all, I teach a robotics science class, and have a lot of LEGOs and other parts lying around. By doing this work around my students, I could show them a thing or two about design and troubleshooting a robot project like this.

To start, I needed the thing to be able to move, and I decided that it would be most fun if he could be remotely controlled. So I got out some VEX robotics materials that were going unused, and set about designing a driving base to match the R2 shell.

I started with a design that had large enough wheels to be pretty quick, but could still carry significant weight. I used some LEGO wheels for the front, which worked OK, but they had to slide around when R2 turned, and would most likely get stuck on carpet. The rear wheels were also too large to fit inside the R2 feet, so they wouldn’t do.

Deciding that the rear wheels were two big, I switched to smaller wheels that had about 1/2 the circumference. If I attached these directly to the motor in the same way as the larger wheels were connected, my robot would cut its speed in 1/2. That would be too slow for my taste.

So I put a couple of gears on there- a larger one with about 60 teeth attached to the motor, and a smaller one with about 30 teeth attached to the wheel axle. Bingo- the robot speed was right back up to the same speed as with the larger wheels, I just lose a little energy and add a little noise because of the gears.

 

HIV Prevention Education

Blog Post- Luke Laurie’s Teacher Blog

My last post was on the need for sex education. In California, even though comprehensive sex education is not mandatory for all school districts, providing HIV prevention education to all students is required. The development of an HIV prevention program is up to local districts, but some very strict requirements mandate that this instruction informs students of many of the health risks and behavioral choices that will reduce teen pregnancy and disease transmission.

I’ve been studying this topic in great detail, and have found many interesting statistics and facts along the way. This information does not represent the policy or attitudes of my school district, nor does it represent any kind of requirement on teachers. These are merely concepts to be considered during the development of a successful program.

HIV Prevention Education Key Points

1) HIV is a great threat, affecting over a million people in the U.S. Heterosexual transmission is accounting for more of the new cases. Many new cases are amongst teens and young adults. HIV rates in Santa Barbara County, fortunately, are relatively low.

2) Teen pregnancy rates (and rates of intercourse) nationwide have been falling significantly since their peak around 1988. Great disparities exist between races, with Latina teens universally having the highest rates. The current rate for Latinas in Santa Barbara County is one of the highest rates in the State of California (9%). By comparison, however, this rate is better than the rate for teens overall in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.

3) Youth are engaged in risky behaviors at high rates, including oral, anal, and vaginal sex, with 61% of teens reporting that they used a condom during last intercourse. The rate of condom use, though, is actually much higher than it used to be, and has risen steadily in the last several years. In 1991, the rate of condom use in last intercourse was only 46%.

4) Under the law, HIV prevention education is part of the statute with the following purpose: “To provide a pupil with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect his or her sexual and reproductive health from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.” AND “To encourage a pupil to develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender roles, sexual orientation, dating, marriage, and family.”

5) Abstinence-only education is illegal in California. HIV prevention programs must emphasize that abstinence as the only 100% effective method of preventing HIV, STDs, and pregnancy, but also must teach that condoms are highly effective and should be used during any sexual activity. Instruction must also specifically teach the means of transmission of HIV: anal, oral, and vaginal sex, contact with blood, and intravenous drug use.

6) Instruction must be free of religious doctrine, and provided free of bias to GBLTQ (gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and questioning) youth.

7) STD’s, their symptoms, and means of transmission must be included in HIV prevention programs. (This point may not be clear when studying California law as written, it appears to be omitted from HIV prevention education requirements when not part of a comprehensive se education program. However, there is additional guidance and justification for including all STD’s in any HIV prevention curriculum. I will hopefully address this item in a later post, along with a recommendation to the legislature to revise the statute to match the necessary practice.)

8) HIV prevention education must include lessons on behavior and decision making, as well as identifying and avoiding risky situations, and developing refusal skills.

9) HIV prevention education does not cover topics such as contraception other than male and female condoms, abortion, nor other issues relevant to pregnancy, birth, prenatal care, or human development.

10) California Health and Science standards provide strong direction for the instruction that should be included in an HIV prevention unit.

11) The Red Cross Positive Prevention Curriculum was developed in conjunction with health agencies and the California Department of Education to specifically meet all the requirements of the HIV prevention requirement, without including content specific to Comprehensive Sex Education.

Local News Articles Showing the Good in Education

Many teachers are humble about their successes. Every day, they go about their business teaching their students, planning lessons, grading papers, working on committees, and otherwise maintaining the field of education. Some of these teachers are absolutely, unbelievably amazing, and devote their entire lives to teaching their students. But the same moral clarity that guides their selfless work for students, keeps them from pridefully advertising the work they do. Consequently, the public at large often has no idea how many amazing things teachers are doing, and no idea how truly awesome teachers are.

That’s not me. I believe that it is my duty to shout from the rooftops about what I am doing in my profession. It’s certainly not for fortune, it costs me money and time. It’s part of the same civic duty that drives me to be the teacher I am. I believe that everyone benefits when teachers take the time to communicate to the public at large the difficult challenges they face, and the diligent and creative work they are doing.

Recently, a few articles have helped me in this cause:

One of my former students gave me props for encouraging him to pursue Agricultural Science:

“FFA preps flock for national convention”

http://www.santamariatimes.com/news/local/education/article_bbefed44-da75-11df-aa7c-001cc4c002e0.html

I was interviewed for the following article about my work in the Einstein Fellowship, TNLI (Teacher’s Network Leadership Institute), MESA, and the Einstein Fellowship 20th Anniversary Summit:

“Local Teachers Strive to Improve their Craft”

http://www.santamariatimes.com/news/local/education/article_83ae05a0-bef6-11df-a507-001cc4c002e0.html

I coached a team of students to build cardboard boats for the “Boat Regatta” sponsored by Santa Maria Parks and Recreation Department.

“Teens Sink or Sail at Cardboard Boat Regatta”

http://www.santamariatimes.com/news/local/article_9f05a904-d9b6-11df-b2ea-001cc4c03286.html

Policy Recommendations on the 20th Anniversary of the Einstein Fellowship

Today Albert Einstein Fellows will be visiting the offices of Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to discuss the importance of having teachers involved in public policy. After the conclusion of our Summit at the Wilson Center, we developed a one page document of policy recommendations to distribute. The text of that document follows.

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellows, some of the nation’s leading educators, gathered in Washington, DC on June 28-29, 2010, for a 20th Anniversary Summit.  Hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Summit brought together more than 80 current and former Einstein Fellows along with distinguished guest speakers from the White House, Federal agencies, national education organizations, and the U.S. Congress.  The goal of the Summit was to generate recommendations to inform and improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The Summit covered a variety of educational issues, including national curriculum standards, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and educational equity.

Recommendations of the Einstein Fellows:

  • Support initiatives to enable school systems to implement innovative teaching practices in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
  • Increase funding for Pre-K-12 education, especially programs that impact each child as opposed to competitive grants.  Federal funding is vital to the maintenance and development of STEM programs in states and districts.
  • Establish national standards for science education and support provisions in the reauthorization of ESEA that give equal treatment to science as to mathematics and language arts. Science knowledge and skills, as part of a comprehensive STEM approach, are vital for all students and provide 21st Century workforce skills, promote national security and global competitiveness.
  • Include K-12 teachers, such as Einstein Fellows, in the formulation of professional development or curriculum.  The real world experience of classroom teachers is an overlooked asset when new programs are developed.
  • Base school and student assessment on multiple measures and formative assessments.
  • Create and fund a program to place science specialists to teach and coach in elementary schools.  Elementary schools can benefit from the presence of competent STEM teachers who also have skills in working with K-12 students.  They can teach STEM and also model effective strategies as instructional coaches.
  • Support legislation that encourages research-based instruction and teacher training.
  • Support federal programs to purchase science equipment and provide STEM training to teachers at the K-6 grade levels.  This will enable the delivery of inquiry-based, hands-on science experiences.
  • Establish guidelines to ensure all administrators are competent and knowledgeable in STEM education.  Student success and instructional quality depends on strong school leadership.
  • Support initiatives and funding to enable states and districts to lengthen the school day or school year.

Planning the Program for the E20 Summit

Blog Post at Luke Laurie’s Teacher Blog : https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

Teacher’s Network Leadership Institute Fellow, Policy Work for 2009-2010

The Einstein Fellowship 20th Anniversary Summit:

Planning the Program

Introduction:

During the 2009-2010 school year I committed myself to engaging in policy work, rather than action research. My initial plan was to advocate for policies to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. Little did I know, I would be swept up by a project that would become a national summit of leading STEM educators.

Background:

This year, 2010, marks the 20th Anniversary of the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship, also known as the Einstein Fellowship. This unique program brings teachers of science and mathematics to Washington, D.C. to work in the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and various federal government agencies, such as the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, NASA, and NOAA. Recipients of the fellowship are known as Einstein Fellows. They serve one-year terms living and working in Washington, D.C. With their extensive classroom knowledge, experience, and credentials, Einstein Fellows provide practical insights and “real world” perspectives to policy makers and program managers.

From 2006-2007, I served as an Einstein Fellow in the office of Congressman Mike Honda. During my fellowship, I had many opportunities to learn about policy, legislation, and government. I also had the opportunity to contribute to policy by advising the Congressman on education, appropriations, and environmental issues, and by participating in briefings and roundtable discussions on those issues. My work focused on education equity, enhancing science education, and improving the understanding of global warming. Following my fellowship year, I returned to the classroom, to continue my career teaching junior high science and robotics in Santa Maria, CA.

Summary of Work:

In Fall of 2009, I joined a group of former Einstein Fellows in conversations about the possibility of holding an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Einstein Fellowship, by bringing Fellows from the last 20 years together for an event in Washington D.C.. We formed a Planning Committee of fellows who were committed to spending a significant amount of time making all the decisions and preparations that would be necessary. Through numerous conference calls and thousands of emails, this grassroots event evolved to become the Einstein Fellowship 20th Anniversary Summit (called the E20 Summit by the Planning Committee), which will be held in Washington, D.C. from June 27 through June 30, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. This summary was written after the planning process was complete, but prior to the actual Summit.

The Planning Committee conceptualized the event to be less of a celebration, and more of an opportunity to have a meeting of minds, to share ideas and build upon the vast and varied experiences of Einstein Fellows. We divided the work into three subcommittees: Fundraising; Logistics and Budget; and Program. The Fundraising Subcommittee successfully harnessed the support of government agencies, science and education organizations, and industry partners to provide funding to carry out the objectives of the E20 Summit. The Logistics and Budget Subcommittee coordinated the venues, vendors, and bookkeeping. I took leadership of the Program Subcommittee and became the Chair to coordinate the development of the substantive components of the Summit.

The goals of the E20 Summit, as stated in our proposal, were as follows:

  • Publish and disseminate a formal report of the E20 Summit proceedings with key recommendations to inform ESEA (the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as No Child Left Behind) and improve STEM education;
  • Recognize the accomplishments of Einstein Fellows and their collective contributions to policy, programs and the advancement of K-12 STEM education;
  • Promote the professional capabilities of Einstein Fellows, and other nationally recognized teachers, to national, state and local STEM education stakeholders;
  • Illustrate the efficacy of the Einstein Fellowship program as a best practice of STEM policy inclusion for teachers and professional development model;
  • Formalize and strengthen the Einstein Fellowship network.

It was a joy to work with the other members of the Planning Committee and the Program Subcommittee. On many aspects we shared common goals. Where we disagreed, we discussed our differences in a constructive manner and found compromises that everyone could accept. All participants had served as Einstein Fellows within the last twenty years in various offices and agencies, and were from many different parts of the United States. Most were science teachers of various disciplines, and some taught mathematics. The wealth of knowledge and experience in the group was incredible. Each Fellow had many valuable connections that we were able to draw from as valuable resources to implement the goals of the Summit.

The Program Subcommittee formulated the content of the Summit. Through a lengthy brainstorming process and a series of collaborative discussions, the Subcommittee created a list of possible topics around which workshops, panel discussions, or roundtable discussions could be created. The group solicited input from active members of the Planning Committee, as well as other Fellows who might attend the Summit. From this input, we created a schedule covering topics pertinent to Einstein Fellows, and relevant to the current national dialog on STEM education. We assigned facilitators to manage the sessions and worked with them to connect with experienced speakers and panelists in positions of authority within the appropriate fields. Throughout this development process, all relevant information was compiled into a document that would become the final Program for the Einstein 20th Anniversary Summit.

The final Program is a 21-page document, and includes the following elements:

  • A welcome statement
  • A description of the three locations for events, The Wilson Center, The Rayburn House Office Building, and The J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C.
  • A brief agenda summary
  • A detailed program of all sessions and events
  • The text of H.Res. 1322, a Congressional Resolution Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Einstein Fellowship, which passed the House on June 15, 2010.
  • A list of the Planning Committee and Subcommittee members.
  • Brief biographic information about all of the facilitators, panelists, and featured guests
  • A full list of approximately 200 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellows from the first 20 years.
  • A list of sponsors and supporters

Looking Ahead:

Following the Summit, a report of the findings will be published by the Wilson Center and distributed nationally. In addition, we will be forming an Einstein Policy Team, which will work to promote and advocate for ways to improve STEM education using the findings of the Summit. The Einstein Policy Team will be involved in advocacy at the local, State, and National level. It is our hope that through this advocacy, we will be able to make notable contributions and give teachers a stronger voice.

More info on the Summit can be found at the official website:

http://sites.google.com/site/einstein20summit/