Last week the Brown Education Department Speaker Series concluded for the semester with its fourth and final speaker of the year. The department welcomed Dana Goldstein, a 2006 Brown graduate, journalist, and the author of the New York Times bestseller The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession.
In her book, Dana Goldstein asks, “Why is teaching the most controversial profession in America?” Historically, American public school teaching developed as an explicitly working class job. Yet at the same time that we pay public school teachers poorly, police their political activity, and prevent them from influencing the curriculum, we have come to expect teachers to play a key role in the eradication of poverty and inequality.
Goldstein outlined in her presentation how many attitudes about the school reform debate are old and cyclical rather than new conversations. Moral panic, for example, has frequently caused us to focus on who is teaching rather than addressing structural issues. The concept of data-based reform is also not new, with the idea of pay tied to performance being almost a century old. Goldstein further outlined how valuable data that is not test scores is historically ignored, even if it yields important insights, such as how school funding correlates to teacher effectiveness. The media further exacerbates issues with this conversation by incentivizing focusing on extremes rather than on how to improve the average teacher.
Ultimately, Goldstein concluded by noting the underlying issue that education reform is usually done to teachers, not with teachers, and that if we are truly going to increase the prestige and effectiveness of American public school teaching, we need to use a new strategy: conceiving of teachers as intellectuals, and allowing them to collaborate to exercise real professional discretion and leadership.
UEP Alumni Nikki Churchwell and Lindsey Cosgrove pose for a photo with current UEP students at GradCON.
This Saturday, November 14, 2015, the Graduate School held their annual Graduate Student Career Options Conference (GradCON); among the 42 Brown alumni invited to share their stories were two UEP Program alumni, Nikki Churchwell (UEP ’11) and Lindsey Cosgrove (UEP ’11).
Both shared how the knowledge and skills they gained from the UEP Program and Brown University prepared them to work in their current positions. Churchwell participated in the “Education” Alumni Panel, speaking of her experience working at Providence Plan and now as a Fellow at the U.S. Dept of Education. Cosgrove spearheaded the “Non-Profit” Alumni Panel, where she spoke of her role as Director of Institutional Philanthropy and Strategic Partnerships at Girl Scouts of Greater NY.
Current UEP students attending GradCON remarked that Churchwell and Cosgrove gave great advice on graduate school, interview prepping, and career choices, and appreciated the insight on how the skills and knowledge they gained during their UEP year were essential in moving forward into a career that fit their needs and interests.
The Urban Education Policy program works to provide each student with valuable technical skills and enhanced perspectives to help advance future careers. As a tight-knit program, we remain closely connected with our alumni and enjoy celebrating their successes! We recently heard from a graduate who is working to accelerate the dialogue around early childhood absenteeism in Washington D.C.:
The two reports have received considerable media attention, including an NPR radio interview with Mike. The Washington Post and Education Week also ran stories on the work, (one of which was tweeted out by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan)!
Please join us in celebrating the work Mike Katz and his colleagues have accomplished by reading up on this interesting and important topic!
Billy Buchanan (’10) – a member of UEP IV – will present a paper titled “Effect of Instrument Ownership on Musical Achievement: Results from NAEP 2008” at the 2013 AERA conference. The paper will be presented at the session called “Arts for All: Expanding Access and Quality for Poor and Underserved Youth” as part of the special interest group in Arts and Learning. Jacob Mishook, Senior Research Associate at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, chairs the Arts and Learning SIG.