The President’s Town Hall Meeting could have been entitled” No Teacher Left Behind”
One of the advantages, or disadvantages that I have is that I live in Washington DC. That means that I get to go to the hill and hear the reports , ideas, and the philosophy that the groups say that the president believes in.
I have just attended an online Town Hall Meeting at White House.gov. You may want to review this presentation and or listen to the President , in his own words, tell what his perspective is on education in the nation. I have heard the pleas from Compete.org, The Convocation on the Gathering Storm, the Innovation Proclamation, and the MIT PiTAC groups. It was like going to the hill with the cheerleaders for change in education. But today, the President directly talked about teachers, early childhood education, charter schools with evaluation, and innovation.
What was so interesting to me was that he talked directly about the support that is needed for teachers. Unlike Michelle Rhee, he did not play the blame game. He acknowledged that he had the best of education but that education is delivered unevenly in the US. What he said was that teachers need professional development and then, then we can talk about measurement and merit pay, but he must have been reading the local papers Washington DC papers. How refreshing to see that he gets it.. Here in Washington there is a school where students are throwing books at teachers when they turn their backs its not about technology its about classroom management and attitudes.
The president said that not only do teachers need to know curriculum, but also that they need to know how to manage the classroom.
I attended a STEM initiative yesterday that was presented by the National Center for Technological Literacy, NSTA, NCTM and was a briefing of the House STEM Education Caucus.
I attended two STEM workshops yesterday. One was excellent the various groups talked about science, math technology and engineering and gave references, web sites, and resources and the group in the meeting, which was a STEM advocacy meeting were encouraged to network. There were plentiful materials for all and even a handout of all of the powerpoints. This was organized by Sharon Robinson and the STEM Alliance.The House STEM Education Caucus
Innovative STEM Teacher Preparation Programs
It was worth getting up to go to.
Education of Science Teachers in Pre-Service
For college teachers there was a power point on Science Teacher Education with the challenges being cited as content knowledge,and content courses in program. Thee was mention of the pressures from NCLB and other mandates. They actually mentioned that in many states science in the elementary school had become a non entity because it has not been tested and relegated to 20 minutes a week, if taught at all. There was discussion of the disconnect between the “Digital Natives: and the ” Digital Immigrants” but the group acknowledged that there were some that were digitally disconnected and therefor not in either category.
Discussion revolved around a holistic approach to educating pre-service teachers.
This was Jon Pederson – Association for Science Teacher Education
Often people teach teachers how to use the technology without a reference as to how that use of technology changes the classroom and the ways in which we must work.
Mathematics Teacher Preparation
Dr. Francis Fennell
He discussed teacher education programs and the ideas of the mathematical and pedagogical content knowledge needed for teaching math. From the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2009 he said that evidence shows that a substantial part of the variability of student achievement gains is due to the teacher’s ability and knowledge of math.
He discussed the critical shortage in most states of High School and Middle School teachers. He talked about the various pathways into teaching and said that we must improve teacher mentoring, teacher professional development and teacher retention. He was clear that the National Math Panel supported Elementary math specialists Had a thought and prediction that there be a mathematics specialist at every level.
The only disconcerting thing for me , was that he did not seem to know what computational math is and why it should be included in his road map to math excellence.
There was handed out a paper from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
It stated that every student has the right to be taught mathematics by a highly qualified teacher -a teacher who knows mathematics well and who can guide students’ understanding and learning. A highly qualified teacher understands how students learn mathematics, employes a wide range of teaching strategies, and is committed to lifelong professional development.
An interesting variation and new discussion was of the Atlas Program, at Advancing the Technological Literacy and Skills of Elementary Educators, the Museum of Science, Boston.
They shared a rationale for Engineering Technology in Elementary Grades. demonstrated the needs, goals and outcomes and a plan for distribution of this program to community colleges and four years institutions. This program and its highlights are available on the web.
The difference between what the President says and how others SAY he says things is huge….
Then I went to the NEA building to the 21st Century STEM iniitative presentation. Chris Dede initiated the talk in maybe 92 to my knowledge and we started talking about the 21st Century Initiatives. I actually worked for the first initiative doing outreach to teachers after I finished my work on the NIIAC, and did initial sharing of resources , ideas, and philosophy on the use of technology in the US. There were many players who had ideas at that time who were collaborating with the 21st Century Initiative. Sadly, yesterday the group is stll wedded to Margaret Spelling and the original NCLB talk. There was no mention at all of science, geography, and the innovation part of the STEM that we have come to know about from Compete.org, The innovation seemed to come from INTEL, and there was a little mention of UDL, but Ken Kay never mentioned science, engineering and or technology as a complete subject. Maybe they need to retool and re-educate themselves on the new direction in which the president is going. Instead they wanted states to sign up for more standards. Maybe Ken Kay had not heard the Secretary of Education’s speech at the NSTA conference.
It is significant that the President and the Secretary of Education pay particular attention to the STEM work, governors are on board, there are special STEM academies and Project Lead the Way, Robotics First and other initiatives are being shared as well as the results of ITEST NSF grants as ways of working. The vocational science issues that are addressing workforce readiness and the Perkins initiative were also important additions to the discussion from the President and Arnie Duncan. The 21st Century Initiative seems to be more a membership initiative that is looking for state buy in. If they are not really going to include real science, real math, computational math and science, and engineering , they should not call their work STEM initiatives.