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Leading The News: 25 Years of Education Coverage

Where’s the first place you would go to hear updated information on education? What’s the source that you trust the most? What was the last educational topic you heard about in the media? These are all questions that were raised by educational advocate Andrew R. Campanella in his report Leading The News: 25 Years of Education Coverage.

Campanella analyzed the coverage of K-12 education in the media over the last 25 years, and he found that education coverage is declining, with only 4 percent of Americans saying that education was the most important topic to them in 2014.

Local television is where I hear about education the most and it’s my go-to source, and also my most trusted source, coinciding with what others said in the report. Campanella found that local coverage of education is on the rise. In fact, he saw that the highest percentage of mentions of education-related stories focus on sports. The report found that 13.6 percent of local, regional, and state coverage focuses on athletics. Sports are an attention grabber and local news stations know that sports are more interesting for some than hearing about stories that focus on curriculum, budgets or reforms that may have taken place. Unfortunately, focusing on sports takes away from teaching the general public about those important issues in education that affect how their children are learning.

The study also revealed that when education is mentioned in articles, they are almost always focused on a specific policy. In my personal experience, one of the few policies that I have seen written about frequently in news articles is No Child Left Behind (NCLB). NCLB is the “poster child” for education and it’s pushed heavily almost everywhere, and if you were a millennial child you experienced it first hand.

Campanella uncovered

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My First Day

As I approach my final year at Wake Forest University, I reflect on the amazing opportunities I have been given and the wonderful education I have been lucky enough to receive. It was not until my sophomore year however, when I took a class on the policy of public education, that I realized just how fortunate I was. After taking this course both my interest and curiosity were piqued and my passion for education reform ignited. I learned about the educational gaps all over the country and became more and more appalled by the inequality in education opportunities.

I have always been a believer in the American dream and a supporter of the notion that with hard work anything is possible. However, it became increasingly clear to me that the idea that I had always believed in and held close is being threatened by lack of opportunity and equality.

At CER I hope to gain a wider understanding of the various kinds of education and school choice and learn about policies that work to close the equality and achievement gap. Even after one day, I can already see that I am surrounded by experienced professionals who are dedicated to, and passionate about, education quality and equality. I am looking forward to what my time at CER will bring!

Madeline Ryan, CER Intern


All Great Things Come to an End

It’s amazing how time flies. Just two months ago I was being interviewed for a position at the The Center for Education Reform (CER) and now it’s my last day as an intern. I’m really going to miss walking in every morning and greeting the wonderful staff. When I walked into the office for the very first time I didn’t know if I should be terrified of the amount of work I’d be given or about the amount of things I had to present to the organization when I was finished. Everything was great overall in the end though.

In my time here at the CER, I worked on several projects. I wrote blogs, updated articles in the databases, researched K-12 facts to update the organization’s website, and I even conducted my own survey. All of these projects helped my develop my critical thinking skills and conducting my survey helped me network with people I don’t usually talk to. I think I have really grown while working at this organization. I’m very proud of myself and the work I contributed.

The Center for Education Reform helped me analyze the issues surrounding education reform. It is sad to know that education is one of the most underrated issues in society today. It is very important to inform parents and school about opportunities that can further their child’s learning. I will be sure to let parents in my community know there are better schools in D.C. besides the traditional public schools and they will get great results in their child’s learning progress. It worked for me so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for them.

I have enjoyed my time here at CER. I’m shocked that it’s already over. Or am I dreaming? No I’m awake because that pinch actually hurts! These few

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Technology: The Great Equalizer

I have been involved with special education in some capacity for my entire life; I grew up with a cousin born with Down syndrome. I have seen my Uncle and Aunt move school districts for better access to special education programs, as well as have been an observer in his special education classroom at one of the premiere high schools in the nation: Westlake High School located in Westlake, Texas.

Visiting his special education classroom in 2010 enlightened me to the challenges that special education educators face on a daily basis. There is usually one teacher surrounded by a multitude of students each with a different disability, whether physical or mental. Realistically, one teacher cannot sufficiently address the demands of several students at once. One solution to this problem is the use of technology in the special education classroom to not only address the unique needs of each student, but also eliminate the segregated nature of the classrooms between special and general education.

Although I am behind the times and prefer print materials to digital materials, it became evident that technology is the tool to aid students with disabilities after hearing several special education educators’ talk about the influence of technology in aiding student’s success. All the panelists, who each worked in a different content area and with different student demographics, discussed the importance of individualized instruction for students with disabilities; technology is the key to personalized instruction for students with physical or mental disabilities. Because these students think and act differently, each student will not and can not thrive under the same model of education; therefore providing the classrooms, educators, and students with technological tools that aid success, special education students are receiving a top notch education amongst their general education peers.

Although I never followed through on my visit to

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Comparing Traditional and Public Charter Schools

There are many aspects of schools to compare or how one school is different from another. I recently conducted a survey about how traditional public and public charter school students and staff feel about all aspects of their school. The purpose of the survey was to analyze the opinions in both schools. The results showed different trends in the relationship between students and staff of traditional public schools and public charter schools.

In traditional public schools students tended to be closer to their teachers. Most teachers who were working at regular public schools had been working there for at least 5 years or more, which would help build relationships with students. The survey also reveals that students at traditional public schools are taking rigorous classes but not more than public charter schools. In public charter schools, students tend not to be as close the teachers. César Chávez Public Charter School hires new teachers almost every year, so it would be evident that students aren’t as close because of the changes made every year.

Even though there are many differences, students in both schools didn’t give a correct definition of a public charter school. The charter school students were closer to the definition of course, but still not quite correct. The students in each school also agreed that their school was better than the other. But who wouldn’t say their school isn’t better; it’s ok to be biased sometimes.

As I wrapped up my survey, I began to look at what the public charter school and traditional public school teachers said about the schools. All the teachers said almost the same thing, the school is good overall but attitude and behavior need to improve in some areas.

The survey was a success and I got great results. It was very interesting sending surveys online

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Reflecting On Education for All

“We have not even come close to tapping the potential of this country”, said Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University (ASU), at the first annual The Atlantic Education Summit this week. Educational opportunity was the common theme during his talk, and Crow spoke passionately about his university’s attempts to shift what education means in the United States. The skyrocketing cost of college tuition was discussed as an economic, cultural, and psychological barrier keeping many people from pursuing higher education. Crow and ASU are working relentlessly to restructure education for the changing face of America. As an undergraduate student, the panel was an inspirational look into improving educational access.

Touching on college rankings, Crow discussed how schools are not ranked on outcomes like student learning, critical thinking skills, real-world experience, and character development of those who graduate. Instead, school rankings are based inputs such as the caliber of admitted students. College admissions are not an apples-to-apples game, and Crow encouraged high school students not to take these types of college rankings to heart. Instead, Crow suggested high school students apply to college based on which schools offer programs they are passionate about at a price that fits their needs.

The second half of the session focused on the unique partnership between ASU and Starbucks, and the opportunities it creates for Starbucks employees to go back to school for free. For Mary Ham, a Starbucks manager and single mother in Virginia, the program is a life changing opportunity. She spoke of her desire to continue to excel and set an example for her children. The crippling effects of accumulated student loans were also discussed during this part of the panel. The solution that ASU and Starbucks offer is giving adults a debt-free way to return to school

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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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César Chávez Symposium

Every year, seniors at Chávez schools present and defend their theses, which focus on current public policy issues, during the César Chávez Public Charter Schools Public Policy Symposium. Students include a background of the issue, analysis of the policy, and their recommendations on how to improve/change the policy in their thesis presentations. This year’s topics ranged from the militarization of the police to the conflicts in Israel/Palestine. The three seniors who presented their theses rivaled that of a college student well into their studies. Each presentation was a thoughtful piece that brought me into their minds and helped me understand the basis of their thesis.Chavez Signs

Before the student presentations, keynote speaker Jamal Simmons, who plays an active role in politics and helped both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama win elections, spoke about his idea of “Generation One”. Generation One includes the millennials who he described as having a greater scope of things that they can become in life compared to earlier generations. He recounted a popular saying from when he was younger about minority parents telling their kids that they can be anything they want in life, and parents knowing they were not telling the truth. Children then suffered from the generational suppression that lasted decades before them. This is unlike today, when there are people who look just like them who are owners of television networks or even President of the United States. Today, Generation One believes they can indeed be anything they want in life.

This led us into the student presentations, and it was clear that these students are a part of Generation One (in fact, they might be the next leaders of Generation One!). The first presenter spoke about student loan debt, and provided his very own

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