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.
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The Einstein Fellowship 20th Anniversary Summit

Blog Post: https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com

Einstein Fellows in the Library of Congress

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship is a special opportunity for math and science teachers to work in Washington D.C. in various government agencies or in the U.S. Congress, in order to contribute to federal policy. Participating teachers are expected to take their experience back to the classroom or education community in order to become teacher leaders, however, some many have stayed in positions working on education or science policy. During my fellowship, I had the opportunity to work in the U.S. House of Representatives with Congressman Mike Honda of Silicon Valley, working on issues related to education and the environment.

2010 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Einstein Fellowship. Consequently, several fellows are working together to plan the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship 20th Anniversary Summit, also known by the planners as the E20 Summit.

The 20th Anniversary Summit is destined to be an event for the ages. The Summit will bring together current and former fellows, some of whom returned to the classroom to be leading science and math teachers, and others who became policy experts, legislative aides, or took positions in the administration. The Summit will be a meeting of the minds of people with experience in the classroom as well as public policy, to address the pivotal issues of the day, in Education, in Policy, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

The Summit will produce a written product, possibly the “Einstein Report” collecting the wealth of knowledge of Einstein Fellows, and offering policy recommendations to improve education.

I’m looking forward to this amazing experience.

The Einstein Fellowship 20th Anniversary Summit will be held in Washington D.C., June 27-30, 2010.

For more information on the Summit, or to become involved see the official website:

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

Become a Teacher Who Works on Public Policy- Einstein Fellowship

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During the 2006-2007 school year, I had the opportunity to work in the U.S. House of Representatives as an Einstein Fellow. This experience was life changing for me, and enabled me to work directly on education and science legislation with Congressman Mike Honda. If you are a Math or Science teacher (or Elementary or Special Ed. who teaches these subjects) who would like to become involved in public policy, consider applying for the Einstein Fellowship. The Einstein Fellowship is one of the few opportunities teachers have for becoming directly involved in the policy making process. This year, the Einstein Fellowship will be celebrating it’s 20th year.

The following press release was lifted from the NSTA Newsletter:

Apply Now For The 2010–2011 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program

The Triangle Coalition, an NSTA partner, is seeking nominees for the 2009–2010 Einstein Fellow program.

As an Einstein Fellow you will spend a school year in Washington, DC sharing your expertise with policy makers. You may serve your Fellowship with Congress or one of several government agencies, such as the Department of Energy, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The Einstein Fellowship program provides an opportunity for teachers to inform national policy and improve communication between the K–12 STEM education community and national leaders. Selection is based on excellence in K–12 mathematics, science, or technology teaching; demonstrated leadership; an understanding of national, state, and local education policy; and communication and interpersonal skills.

The Fellowship program was created in 1990 with support from the MacArthur Foundation. Congress formalized the program in 1994 by passing the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Act. The Triangle Coalition administers the program under the direction of the Department of Energy. The application deadline is January 13, 2010.

Link to apply online:

http://www.einsteinfellows.org/application.html

See the article in the Washington Post about the Fellowship

Article in edweek– requires subscription

National Curriculum Standards

I have a newer post on this topic: https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/u-s-national-curriculum-standards-for-the-future-of-the-nation/

National Curriculum Standards- TNLI Discussion for May
Luke Laurie
Santa Barbara County, California

(Update 12-09: This Post is the 7th hit on Google for the search term “National Curriculum Standards.” I hope you give the post some consideration, and feel free to leave comments. I’m interested in your viewpoints.)

I want to thank my colleague, Kristen Anderson, for bringing the topic of National Standards to our discussion. The problems associated with implementing National Standards highlight the difficulties related to creating any unified education policy in the United States.

Arguments Against National Standards
While I believe that there are compelling arguments against creating and implementing national curriculum standards, most of these arguments relate to the structural and political issues, and not, necessarily, what is best for the Nation; nor are they sufficiently compelling that we should disregard the notion of exploring the concept. These arguments include the historical separation between the roles of the Federal government and States in education policy, the concept of States rights, and the sense that local control is always best. In fact, without significant changes in law or an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, creating mandatory standards or assessments could even be illegal or unconstitutional.

Benefits of National Standards
I agree with my colleague Linda Edwards on this topic, in that national standards could greatly increase the efficiency by which curricula and assessments are developed, by eliminating the obligation of States to carry out this process independently. Costs could be reduced and safeguards could simultaneously be put in place to prevent a monopoly by large publishers to develop curriculum materials. A door could potentially be opened to small publishers who might be able to compete at a national level playing field, rather than forcing small publishers to target particular regional markets and unable to meet the current requirements for adoption in multiple States. Comparisons between States would obviously make more sense, with regards to uniformity in assessments. In addition, it could become easier to compare practices in different regions with a common assessment.

By nationalizing standards, and increasing the degree of efficiency in assessment, there could also be the possibility that we could develop national systems for better assessments. Perhaps we could be looking at more logical longitudinal data, and assessments that go beyond multiple choice.

Goals for National Standards
National standards could serve us best if they set standards that could be considered our collective national goals. The trouble with local control, is that it allows abrogation of responsibility, and potentially relies on inadequate local resources. Education allows for the success of our economy, our innovations in science, medicine, and the arts, and the preparation of our citizens to be contributing members of society and participants in democracy. These are not local or regional issues. By creating comprehensive national educational goals, we would not only be answering the timeless question of what schools are for, but we would also enable the targeting of national resources where they are needed to help regions achieve the goals that are good for the Nation as a whole. Formula grants and competitive grants are nice, but they don’t necessarily meet the true needs of all schools and all children.

Math and Science First
Changing all subjects at once in a short time period would be unwise, both logistically and politically. While the governors are recommending Math and English a la NCLB, I would suggest implementing Math and Science standards first. There are bills already on the books to create national standards in these subjects. There is little (but some) disagreement amongst professionals about the content that should be included in Math and Science, and tremendous political will. Business groups, education professionals, and the scientific community have been issuing recommendations on the need to unify and improve our instruction in these areas both for the benefit of improved college preparation, and for the “competitiveness” or “innovation” agenda; which see a growing need for more competent and creative professionals in technical and scientific fields.

Potential Problems
It may sound un-American for the Federal government to tell you what to teach in your classroom. Yet, our current lack of a true national education policy leaves us in a situation where some regions, some communities, and some states provide curricula to our youth that may be inadequate or misdirected for serving our greater national interest.

I don’t believe that regional differences should necessitate different standards or expectations in most curricular areas. These regional differences may necessitate different approaches, and may require different resources. But to say that the math required in Kansas should be different than California because of regional differences is ridiculous.

Limits of National Standards
With History and Social Sciences, we could get ourselves into serious political and ideological debates. Any attempt at national standards in social sciences would undoubtedly invoke the ire of groups of people; cultural, racial, religious, or otherwise, who would likely protest omission, misrepresentation, or vilification of their group. Any attempt at being all-inclusive and comprehensive would run the risk of being too unwieldy to be viable. If there were a curricular subject for which national standards might be too difficult to implement, it would be History-Social Sciences.

After all, if we learn history well, what are we going to repeat?