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Morning Shots

All Good Things Must Come To An End, Right?

It feels like it was just yesterday that I was walking across the Syracuse University campus, checking my email and learning that I received a position as an intern for the summer here at The Center for Education Reform (CER). That was almost five months ago now. I look back at my time here at CER this summer and I almost don’t recognize the girl who thought a voucher was just something used at a retail store to get 50% off!

On my first day, I was told countless times that I would get as much from this internship as I put into it. What I wasn’t told was that I would learn more in these six weeks than in any college semester. Meeting real education reformers taught me that this work never ends but that there are real results. We (yes, I would say I’m a reformer now) are helping real live people who need a voice in those scary marble halls of the Capitol. It’s important to remember who we’re fighting for with all these policy briefings and panel discussions. The future of America is in our hands because we’re the ones fighting for those who can’t always fight for themselves.

My experiences here at CER have been vast. From spending afternoons in those scary marble hallways of the Capitol, to planning events, and listening to some truly inspirational panel discussions, this summer has taught me more than I ever expected. A personal favorite of mine was an entrepreneurship panel, titled “The State of Entrepreneurship in K-12 Education” at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). This panel proved to me that education does not simply need to be a teacher in front of a classroom but in fact, it is an entire army of people working to

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EdReform: Past, Present and Future

We planned an event.

When we arrived in the CER office all we kept hearing about was the events we would plan. They would be events “for interns by interns” and we would plan them essentially on our own. It was a daunting task but we were up for the challenge and the result would be two success stories.

Yesterday’s event was a panel discussion titled “EdReform: Past, Present and Future.” Each intern was assigned a different role that involved completing a task prior to the event and a task on the actual day of the event. Planning this event required weekly intern meetings that helped to create the bond that has come to exist between this group of seven CER interns. We found our venue thanks to the Thomas B. Fordham Institute during the first week of July. Our speakers, Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Jill Turgeon, an educator and school board member in Loudoun County, Virginia, as well as John Bailey of Digital Learning Now were all people who we had encountered at other events throughout the summer and proved to be influential on us as interns. And finally, we purchased lunch for all attendees as a final ploy to get interns in the door.

The day finally arrived. Michael Petrilli, Jill Turgeon and John Bailey arrived at the conference space and our discussion was under way. Throughout the discussion there was a common theme around parent power and the need for parents to have the ability to choose the school that they think is best for their child. There also seemed to be a common belief among the panelists that technology can be used in the classroom but is only beneficial when it is a support and not simply an amplification of

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Expanding Options and Changing Stigmas

Over the past few decades, primary and secondary education have been rethought, reshaped, and rebranded. Amidst the changes in the K-12 world, there have been stigmas attached to different styles of education just as there are in the post-secondary world. Although the options in post-secondary education outnumber those in primary and secondary education, stigmas persist about what choices are better than others. A four-year university option is perceived as more prestigious than a community college option due to nomenclature. Expanding the options and reducing the stigma of alternative styles of higher education would not only ensure success in higher education for all students, but also equip more individuals with the tools for success. Just as school choice is important for K-12 education, changing the stigma of choices in post-secondary education needs to be on the top of our list.

Post-secondary education has shown the education world how important it is to give students options. Expanding options equips more individuals with the tools for success. The Brookings Institution hosted several panels on the importance of choice in post-secondary education and the need to enhance the experience for students. The panelists’ ideas, although specific to post-secondary education, parallel the need for choice in primary and secondary education. Providing more education options can only improve both sectors of education. Just as some post-secondary students excel in a traditional, four-year college experience and others excel in a certification program at a community college, some K-12 students can excel in a traditional public school and others excel in an alternative charter school setting. The acceptance of alternative modes of K-12 education should ideally be transferred to the post-secondary realm, while the abundance of options in the post-secondary realm should be paralleled in the K-12 sector.

As DeRionne Pollard, the president of Montgomery College noted,

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