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Austin White: Meeting With Congresswoman Capps

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This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with my home district’s Congresswoman, Lois Capps, in my first ever encounter with a federal politician. I was prepared to be rushed in and out of her office just to shake her hand and get a quick picture taken, knowing the endless demand and limited supply of time that members of Congress face. Even if I could speak with her I assumed, since she made it to Congress, that she would meet every question with a calculated political response devoid of real substance to successfully eliminate any chance of deterring my future vote. I still cannot speak for the rest of our leaders on Capitol Hill, but Congresswoman Capps was an incredible surprise. Voted the nicest person in Congress, she distanced herself from the stereotypical conception of a ‘politician’ as she instead came across as a gentile, confident, and relatable woman.

I had arranged the meeting after finding myself lucky enough to have won the Capps Intern Scholarship—an award and grant provided each year to a UC Santa Barbara student interning in DC. Supporting UCSB students comes from a connection between the Congresswoman and the University that is stronger than a typical constituent base. The former nurse came to represent the district through a special election when her husband, Walter H. Capps, a thirty year Professor of Religious Studies at UCSB, suddenly and tragically passed away nine months after his entry to the House of Representatives. Having received a Masters Degree in Education at UCSB herself, and representing Santa Barbara County for an impressive 15 years and counting, the connection to the community of students has never faltered. Also, it certainly does not hurt that after her intense grassroots movement to register voters, UCSB became a college known for

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Macon Richardson: Classroom Thought Meets Real World Experience

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I shoved my annotated, well-used copy of Pedagogy of the Oppressed into my book bag as class ended and I approached my professor, Dr. Carrillo. I told Dr. Carrillo, an education professor, that I had finalized my summer plans: I would be interning with The Center for Education Reform in Washington, DC. I joked that I was unsure if he would approve; the Center has been one of (many, many) organizations criticized by Diane Ravitch, the education icon and author of our assigned reading the previous week. Dr. Carrillo laughed and the two of us agreed that my internship would give me an opportunity to apply the class material in the real world and engage in Friere’s notion of critical consciousness. The internship would give me the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and challenge myself to think critically about education policy and my own beliefs.

Before interning at CER, my experience with ed policy had been informed by academic theory and research learned in class (I am an education minor) and the realities of ‘policy in practice’ I witness while working in local classrooms. CER gave me the opportunity to experience a policy actor I had only read about in introductory public policy textbooks: the non-profit sector. This past summer I have learned the intricacies involved in non-profit work and the incredible networking that fuels any organization. Through the lens of CER I have come to see how various political actors (legislators, school districts, teachers, parents, media, etc.) work with non-profits to push reform forward. It is an incredibly complex and personalized effort that cannot be understood through the dry language of a college textbook.

Furthermore, I have been exposed to an incredibly diverse array of opinions and positions at CER. Researching and reading about pertinent education policy ‘hot-topics’

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Callie Wendell: The DC Experience

After living and breathing in Washington D.C. for the past two months, I have come to my final week in this great city. This week has been a very sweet and sour week for me. As much as I am ready to go home and see friends and family again I am going to miss Washington D.C. and all of the things I have learned here. There have been probably three major aspects of growth while in the city. First, my work with CER along with my interactions with TFAS (The Fund for American Studies) has helped fully shape my beliefs in politics. Everything I have heard and learned I have questioned and analyzed; as a result, I have been able to gain a fuller understanding of the policy realm along with some specific polices such as education policy and what my beliefs are regarding both.

The second aspect of growth I attained while in D.C. was the ability to survive in the real world. Before coming to D.C. I never had to buy groceries and make meals because I still live on a college campus back home. CER was my first full time job/ internship. Often times in the beginning of the summer I questioned whether or not I could survive this real world experience. In the end, I not only survived it, but learned that it isn’t as bad and scary as I thought it would be. CER provided me with a nice transition to the real world. The working environment was fantastic and I was able to work with a great group of people who understood that this was a completely new experience for me.

Probably the biggest impact this summer has had on me was how these experiences have shaped what I want to do

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