Tag Archives: research

Reflecting on a New Challenge

I was honored by my colleagues to be inducted as the President of the National Academy of Education at a ceremony last Friday.  My wonderful family was at my side as I accepted this honor – and though I don’t get to tell them often enough, they deserve great thanks for their abiding support.

It will be a great pleasure to work with my GW colleagues, NAEd members and leaders, and other friends in the broad education research and policy community as we continue to advance the cause of improved education and increased opportunity. A challenge, no doubt, but one that I feel privileged to take on.

President Knapp (and Diane Knapp), as well as Provost Lerman (and Lori Lerman), were kind enough to attend the ceremony, as were a number of our senior leadership faculty and staff.  I’m grateful for President Knapp’s most generous introduction and welcome.  GW Trustee Titulola Williams-Davies and former trustee Bob Perry also joined us, and it was again a joy to see their enthusiasm for what’s happening in GSEHD.   And it was a special treat to have Undersecretary of Education Martha Kanter in our company.  Let me add my very special thanks to members of the GSEHD National Council who were present:  Laura Taddeucci Downs, Ericka Miller, Elizabeth Lodal, Kathy Manatt, Dorothy Moore, and Ed Vest continue to grace us with their wisdom and support.  My heartfelt thanks to all.

Following a memorable and moving introduction by my dear friend and mentor, Carl Kaestle (whom many of you will remember of course from his masterful “master class” earlier this year), I offered some reflections about the Academy, the world of education research and policy, and my hopes for the future.  As I contemplate this new role, I am glad to share a slightly edited version of my remarks from Friday’s induction ceremony.


MJF
October 29, 2013

[Abridged remarks from NAEd ceremony on October 25, 2013]
I have been thinking about the name of our organization.  Although I was an English major I am not really a big fan of deconstruction; but it is interesting to think about the words in our name, especially in the current policy environment.

The word “national” evokes, for some people, and maybe for more people today than in previous times, an anxiety about the excesses of federal involvement in those sacred rights of states and localities and individuals to keep doing their own thing.  It’s gotten to the point where one wonders, listening to the shrill rhetoric, if anyone was in class on the day when the principles of individual choice and social well-being were taught.  What can we do to remind ourselves that education is essentially a “public good?”

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STEM Education: The Pursuit of Excellence and Diversity

Featuring Faculty Guest Blogger Dr. Sharon J. Lynch

Participants in our 10th annual Educational Symposium for Research Innovations (ESRI), or at least those who were lucky enough to wake up early on Saturday morning for the keynote address, had the extra bonus of hearing Dr. Joan Ferrini-Mundy’s superb talk about the National Science Foundation’s commitment to improved STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education at all levels.   The timing of ESRI and of Ferrini-Mundy’s visit was exquisite, coming just a few weeks after President Obama reaffirmed that the state of our union hinges on continued investments in education to meet changing job and skill needs of the coming century. (By the way, major kudos to Professor Rick Jakeman, the faculty supervisor for ESRI, and to Chris Harriss, Student Chair, for pulling off yet another outstanding conference!)

Today I am happy to welcome my first faculty “guest blogger” to this site, Professor Sharon J. Lynch, who is involved in critically important research on STEM education.   Here Professor Lynch reviews preliminary findings from her NSF-funded project.  I urge you to read on for her thoughtful summary, which is not only substantively rich but also is a model for the ways in which GSEHD strives to connect rigorous research to improved policy and practice.

MJF
February 25, 2013

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Some Thoughts about the Chicago Teachers’ Strike

There are enough smart people expressing their strong views about the causes and effects of the Chicago strike that I hesitate to clutter the blogosphere with additional commentary.  But I do want to share a few thoughts:

1) My sense is that the strike was symptomatic of a deep problem in American education, which I would summarize as the demise of trust brought on by the accountability movement that may have run amok.  For a slightly longer discussion, see my Education Week commentary, due out in next week’s edition and available online probably by Monday or Tuesday.  It was written before the strike began, and will appear after the strike was settled; nevertheless, I think the issues I discuss there are relevant – not just to Chicago but to the ongoing debate about evaluation and accountability.

2) With somewhat uncanny coincidence, just as the strike was ending, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was convening a group of education policy cognoscenti for a two-day conversation about teacher evaluation.  In Tony Bryk’s opening to the conference he presented some fascinating data, drawn from the work of Richard Ingersoll and colleagues at Penn and included in recent reports of National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF).  It seems that the modal number of years teachers remain in their jobs dropped from 15 in 1987-88 to 1 in 2007-08.  That’s the national statistic; here in D.C., for example, that translates to meaning that roughly 10 percent of teachers leave teaching after one year on the job and that fewer than 5 percent have more than five or six years of experience.  For more on this issue, see the NCTAF report, “Who Will Teach? Experience Matters.”

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