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Getting Education Bills to the Finish Line

CER interns had the chance to tune in to a Brookings Institution webinar entitled “Getting Education Bills to the Finish Line”, and listened to former Capitol Hill staffers tackle the issue of reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) and the Higher Education Act (HEA).

During the webinar, the failure to reauthorize ESEA was attributed to the introduction of the No Child Left Behind waivers, while failure of HEA was attributed to an abundance of policy proposals and executive orders, like giving letter grades to college institutions.

The overall consensus of the panel was that these bills needed to be updated to currently reflect education of today and the future. Some pointed to the separation of the branches of government and the non-alignment of the political parties as the reason these laws haven’t been updated. Panelists recalled their time in the Senate when legislators only wanted to be involved with the Executive Branch if it was an election year. The fact is there is not a bill that combines both the views of the Democrats and the Republicans, so anything passing is highly unlikely.

It was clear that education has become some sort of a “political football” that will be one a large factor in the upcoming presidential campaigns. Although the Obama Administration tried to pass these education bills, they failed because “shooting at POTUS is more popular than working with him”.

The panelists then took a vote on which bills they thought could hypothetically pass, and the results were mixed: reauthorization of HEA was unlikely, ESEA was 75% maybe/yes, and a proposed standardized higher education bill was a definite no.

I believe that both the House and the Senate need to put aside political agendas and focus on what’s important: THE CHILDREN. They need to figure out exactly

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Day One As An Intern

I’m a rising senior at Catholic University (CUA) right here in Washington, D.C. Coming into my internship at the Center for Education Reform (CER), I did not know what to expect. I came to CUA as a psychology major with the intention of going to school for speech language pathology and embarking on a career working with children, something I’ve always had a passion for.

During my time at CUA, I have served as a tutor for D.C. Reads, an initiative that engages college students in tutoring D.C.’s schoolchildren to improve literacy, as well as interned for Urban Promise, a Camden, New Jersey based nonprofit that creates opportunities for low-income students. I began asking myself some very tough questions – why do some children in America have access to an excellent education, and others don’t? Is education truly the great equalizer?

I began to see myself working as a policymaker rather than working hands-on with children, and became especially passionate about higher education and college access for all students regardless of their socioeconomic status. This desire to really make a difference led me to apply to the CER Internship, and now, here I am!

My first day has led me to getting to know the CER staff and the background of the education reform movement. A lunch with CER President Kara Kerwin on my first day allowed all the summer interns to sit down and get perspective and insight on CER’s work. CER is the perfect place for me to spend the summer and I can’t wait to see where my summer at CER takes me.

Emma Dodson, CER Intern


The Numbers Game

My motivations for becoming an English Major were simple: I could read and discuss literature daily and it was as far away from math and science, specifically numbers, as I could get. Numbers are not my strength; my math skills are severely limited to simple addition and subtraction. Much to my chagrin, I was enlightened about the influence of numbers by an event regarding college-ready policies in the classroom hosted by the New America Foundation.

The keynote speaker, Jack Markell, the Governor of Delaware, as well as the panelists, Joel Vargas and Elisabeth Barnett, discussed the importance of bringing college into the high school classroom and changing curricula and school policy to ensure that students are best prepared for the rigor of the college classroom. All three individuals agreed on the importance of standardized testing and GPA to measure college readiness, but included the importance of implementing a diversified array of tests.

Although these different tests have different means of presentation and indicate different metrics, each test measures success through statistics and scores – marking the high influence of numbers in America’s education systems. Although the test might change, the means of measuring success does not. Each individual was in agreement that no single test can determine success, but GPA is the best measure implemented at the moment to determine a student’s potential success rate in college.

The universality of numbers plays into the high level of numbers in school; it’s easy to group large students together and have students fall under subsets of measures of success, but students shouldn’t fall under categories. This only reduces students to a number, rather than allowing their unique characteristics to predict their future success as college students. Instead, students should be individuals, not part of a group.

I agree that test scores and GPA are

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