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Transforming Education: Fourth in a series

TRANSFORMING EDUCATION TODAY
(Fourth in a series of interviews with Education Leaders)
Featuring Dr. Arthur E. Wise

Note from Chuck Cascio: Given the difficult issues facing educators today in the USA, I have been running a series in which I contact established educators and request their insights, in their own words, on a number of vitally important education issues. I am pleased to present as the fourth interview in this series of the views of Dr. Arthur E. Wise, whose profile followsReaders who would like to comment on the views expressed may email me at chuckwrites@yahoo.com. My Twitter handle is @ChuckCascio. Not all comments will be responded to by me and/or the individuals interviewed, but all will be read and, if appropriate, forwarded to others engaged in meaningful education reform. Help spread the word with: #TransformEducation

Dr. Arthur (“Art”) E. Wise is an accomplished education author, consultant, policymaker, executive, and advocate. Throughout his career, Art has used the tools of educational research, policy, and advocacy to advance education for poor and minority students. An author of several influential books, he has had hundreds of articles published, first achieving national prominence in 1968 as the author of Rich Schools, Poor Schools: The Promise of Equal Educational Opportunity, a book that conceived the idea of the school finance reform lawsuit. Since then, a majority of state supreme courts have ordered the equalization of state school finance systems, boosting spending in poor districts and narrowing the disparity with affluent districts. As president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) from 1990 to 2008, Art introduced performance-based accreditation and led efforts to develop a system of quality assurance for the teaching profession. He has also held positions—among others—at the RAND Corporation's Center for the Study of the Teaching Profession; the National Institute of Education, Department of Health, Education and Welfare, where he helped create the cabinet-level Department of Education; and the University of Chicago as associate dean and associate professor of education.

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>>>What inspired your career as a leader in education?

     While I am uncomfortable with the designation "leader,” my aspiration to improve the chances of less fortunate children was set at an early age, or so it seems in retrospect.  I grew up in the Roxbury section of Boston as it evolved from an all White working class neighborhood to an all Black neighborhood.  Observing the challenges of this transition and watching on TV the disturbances produced by desegregation efforts in the South, I resolved to dedicate my career to public service. At age 17, I left Roxbury and entered Harvard College thinking that I would become a social worker. As my perspective broadened, I concluded that client-oriented social work would not have enough impact to satisfy my aspirations. In college, my coursework in social sciences, my research assistantships at the Harvard Center for Cognitive Studies, and my observations of education leaders caused me to focus on educational research, policy, and leadership in order to influence the course of education for poor and minority students. 

     As I considered my options I formulated an audacious, even arrogant, plan: I thought, rightly or wrongly, that the traditional path of a program in teacher preparation followed by several years of teaching would actually slow my drive to influence education. Besides, as an ROTC graduate, I faced a two-year military obligation to be served whenever I completed my studies. So I decided to save time by trying to enter a PhD program in what was then called “educational administration.” The University of Chicago took a chance on this "non-traditional" candidate and admitted me to a program designed to prepare professors of education administration. Upon completion of the program, I entered the U.S. Army where I served as assistant director of research at the United States Military Academy, West Point. Upon completion of this service, I was on my way to fulfilling my aspirations, although the precise goals I would pursue and the specific career trajectory I would follow were uncertain. And, as a practical matter, my ideals would have to be pursued in parallel with my need to support my family.  

>>>Identify a couple of accomplishments that you and/or members of your school and/or organization achieved that you feel have had a lasting impact on education.

     My first, and perhaps most lasting, “accomplishment” happened early—in 1963-64, my first year of graduate school. I was enrolled simultaneously in courses in School Law and School Finance. In the law class, we were studying, among other matters, Brown v. Board of Education and related cases concerned with desegregation and the legal reality that schools and school funding are a state responsibility. Among the topics we were studying in the finance class were the large discrepancies in funding between rich school districts and poor school districts. I began to wonder:  

     While desegregation was important, how educationally appropriate was it for Black students to be desegregated into poorly funded schools? For that matter, why should the state be able to discriminate against poor and minority students in the allocation of state funds? Is the denial of equitable school funding a further denial of the equal educational opportunity promised in Brown?  Is unequal educational funding even legal under state law?

     These questions became the basis of a term paper in the law class. My professor, Donald Erickson, was intrigued by the argument and, as the editor of a journal, published my paper Is Denial of Equal Educational Opportunity Constitutional? in 1965. The paper was the first published suggestion that courts might declare existing school finance laws unconstitutional as a matter of Federal and State Constitutions and Laws. The paper attracted some attention and, when it was time for my doctoral dissertation, I felt compelled to develop the argument more fully.  Studying just enough law, I completed my dissertation: The Constitution and Equality: Wealth, Geography and Educational Opportunity in 1967. 

     With a deep sense of relief that I had completed my studies, I left for the Army that year. However, the dissertation did not sit on the shelf for long.  The University of Chicago Center for Policy Studies held a conference to discuss its implications in 1968 and the University of Chicago Press published it in 1969 as Rich Schools, Poor Schools: The Promise of Equal Educational Opportunity. Even before its publication, word of the book began to spread, lawsuits were filed, and other advocates and scholars joined the fray. Four years later, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its 5-4 decision, upholding the status quo but noting explicitly that there was inequity in public school finance and that the Court’s decision did not preclude state courts from acting on state grounds. Thirteen days later, the New Jersey Supreme Court invalidated that state’s school funding scheme.  

     From that day to the present, nearly every state has had one or more lawsuits with more than half favoring the interests of children in poor school districts. Today, the cases remain controversial, as advocates continue to seek equity for poor and minority students and advocates for wealthy students seek to maintain their privileged position in the public schools of their states. 

     A second major concern of mine took shape in the 1970’s when I noticed a not too subtle shift in the use of standardized testing. Prior to then, standardized tests were used primarily to make judgments about individual students, an assessment external to the classroom, to determine whether a student had learned the material taught and/or was ready to move on to more advanced work. Later, at the national level, the National Assessment for Educational Progress, the Scholastic Aptitude Tests, and others were aggregated to provide a high level picture of national and state trends. Beginning in the 1960’s, however, state policymakers began to engineer systems of “accountability” which used collective results on standardized tests to judge teachers, principals, and schools. In 1979, in Legislated Learning: The Bureaucratization of the Classroom, I warned that this use of test results to manage the schools would ultimately narrow the curriculum, turn teachers into bureaucrats, incentivize corrupt behavior and drive the joy out of teaching and learning.

     Needless to say, my warning was largely ignored. State governments and then the Federal Government enacted more accountability legislation culminating in the No Child Left Behind Act and took other measures to evaluate teachers and schools by grouping test results. From the 1960’s to the 2010’s, as accountability legislation was implemented, educators and even some policymakers noticed that the managerial use of test results was not improving education and was having the predicable negative consequences. The trend continued until 2015 when the Federal Government enacted the Every Child Succeeds Act, which has begun to roll back some of the dysfunctional managerial use of standardized testing.  

     A third concern of mine also took shape in the late 1970’s.  I had long believed that the quality of a student’s education depended on the quality of the student’s teacher, an observation shared by most educators and parents and confirmed by research. Through my research and the research of others, it also became clear to me that teaching talent is not randomly distributed and, instead, follows predicable socio-economic patterns.  What I think we should do about these two observations will be discussed below.

>>>What do you see as the major challenges in education today?

      Of the major challenges facing education today, I will mention one that is often overlooked and lies at the core of others. We have forgotten why states established public schools. States established schools primarily as a benefit to the state, a way of promoting the general welfare. State constitutions and laws make it clear that the state establishes schools and requires attendance to protect itself (i.e. the rest of us) from the consequences of those who cannot properly exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, contribute to the economy, or who run the risk of becoming a public charge or criminal.  Secondarily, schools thereby—and incidentally—provide private benefits to the individual. Over time, however, the accepted view has become that schools exist primarily to provide private benefits to individual students so they can compete in our economy. Education has become a consumption commodity with student consumers or their parents buying as much as they can affordThis view flies in the face of the rationale for the common public school, which is to develop all students according to shared American values.  Since the public purpose is now secondary at best, it also leads down the slippery slope to the use of public funds to support vouchers, tax credits, and private non-sectarian and religious schools.   

>>>What do you consider to be the appropriate line between politics and education--including the role of Federal, state, and local governments as well as school boards--in establishing standards, content, and policy, particularly in K-12 public education? 

     When I think about the governance structure for public education in America, I despair. We have three levels of general government—Federal, State, and Local—each with three branches—legislative, executive and judicial—and each of which can, and does, set directions for the public schools. In addition, we have three levels of education government, each of which has multiple structures to direct public schools—US Department of Education, Secretary of Education; state board of education, chief state school officer, and state department of education; and, finally, local board of education and local superintendent. It is a wonder that it works at all. In our legal structure, schools are creations of the state that the state has authorized to operate locally. Early 20th Century reforms sought to remove education from partisan politics by creating state and local boards of education. How has that separation fared in the 21st Century?  Under the Constitution’s General Welfare Clause, the US Government, in the mid-twentieth Century, began to expand its inherent powers over the schools.  It is a wonder that the schools can operate at all.  I will make no specific recommendation here except to urge that those who choose to influence education be mindful of their place in this complex and uniquely American governance structure.

>>>What makes you optimistic about education when you look ahead for the next 3-5 years and what concerns you the most over that time period?

     I have always approached education as an optimist, though that optimism is being seriously tested these days. There is one trend in American education that has had, and will continue to have, an upward trajectory. We are all familiar with the term “gross domestic product,” which is the value of goods and services produced by a nation. Imagine now the “gross educational product” which would be the value of all the knowledge and skill acquired by students pre-K to post-graduate. Formally calculating the GEP would be a tremendous and difficult undertaking. A crude approximation would be the number of years of schooling acquired by an ever-growing population. 

     In the beginning education was for the elite.  As democratic norms took hold, more and more students had at least a few years of schooling. As norms shifted, mandatory education was accepted, high school graduation became expected, most graduates entered some form of tertiary education, college graduation became fairly widespread, the number of fields requiring masters degrees increased and professional preparation programs lengthened. At one end of the spectrum pre-school is likely to become universal. At the other end, internships and post-doctoral studies become more widespread. How sanguine we should be about this trend is debatable, but so far there are few signs of a decrease in the growth of education.  In all likelihood this trend, along with population growth, will continue along with the demand for teachers, professors and other educational personnel.  

>>>What would you consider to be the single most important key to positive transformation of education in the US?

      For me the key to improving the quality of education has been, and remains, the transformation of teaching into a profession. By “profession” I mean that the title “teacher” signify readiness to teach independently. The system of quality assurance for teaching has too many “by-passes” for the public to have confidence that everyone bearing the title “teacher” is ready to teach. Many teachers are graduates of accredited teacher preparation institutions, licensed (in some states) by a rigorous licensing process and have completed a supervised internship or closely mentored first year of teaching. Others begin with little or no preparation. At times of adequate teacher supply, states make teacher licensing more rigorous. At times of inadequate supply, like now, they lower standards to find an adequate supply. We must have a system of quality assurance that signals to the public that all teachers have been determined to be ready to teach independently

     This rigorous licensing system must be balanced with commensurate compensation and conditions of work.  The marketplace for teaching labor must be allowed to operate freely to determine the level of compensation necessary to attract a sufficient supply of qualified teachers. This fundamental economic lesson from business has rarely been introduced to teaching; salaries must be such that the supply of labor matches the demand for labor, without reducing the quality of that labor. In addition, the structure of the profession and the teaching workplace must be made more attractive so teaching can compete for the services of top college graduates. As long as there is a shortage, poor and minority students will be assigned “inferior substitutes.” If the supply of teachers is adequate, then all students, including those in urban and rural schools, will be taught by competent professional teachers. If this happens, poor and minority students, as well as other students, will all be taught by competent professionals. 

     Attracting and retaining qualified teachers has long been a challenge.  However, in today’s political environment, we can expect the challenge to increase.  The need for strong independent professional teachers has never been greater.  We need a strong profession of teaching. 

Copyright: Chuck Cascio and Arthur Wise; all rights reserved.

For comments and/or reprint permission, email: chuckwrites@yahoo.com

Transforming Education Today: Third in a series

TRANSFORMING EDUCATION TODAY
(Third in a Series of Interviews with Leaders in Education)
Featuring Dr. James Upperman

Note from Chuck Cascio: Given the difficult issues facing educators today in the USA, I am presenting a series in which I contact established educators and request their insights, in their own words, on a number of vitally important education issues. Readers who would like to comment on the views expressed may email me at chuckwrites@yahoo.com. My Twitter handle is @ChuckCascio. Not all comments will be responded to by me and/or the individuals interviewed, but all will be read and, if appropriate, forwarded to others engaged in meaningful education reform. I am pleased to present as the third interview in this series of the views of Dr. James Upperman, whose profile follows:

Dr. James “Jim” Upperman was a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools and university professor during his 33 years in public education in Virginia. He completed his undergraduate degree at Bridgewater, VA, College, where he was a Dean’s List student and All American basketball player. Jim earned his M.Ed. from the University of Virginia in 1973, and his Ed.D. at Virginia Tech in 1995. As an Associate Professor at George Mason University from 2001-2017, Jim taught licensure classes in leadership studies in the masters and doctoral programs. In 1976, he was honored by the Virginia Jaycees as the “Outstanding Young Man of Virginia” and in 1999 was selected as the Northern Virginia Region Superintendent of the Year.

 

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 >>>Recalling your own life as a student, going back as far as you would like, what do you remember as the most positive and most negative educational influences for you personally?

 I’ll always remember the long and scary early AM jaunt from the high school bus drop off to the locker room during my freshman year, when the list was posted with names of those who had made the basketball team. Observing the disappointment on the faces of others was difficult as I silently celebrated my own authentic surprise: A teacher/coach had selected ME to be a part of the team! I played very few minutes that first year but it didn’t matter. From that point forward, goal-setting became the norm for me and remains a major part of who I am today.

>>>Can you identify an educator (or educators) who provided you with uniquely positive insights into subject matter as well as teaching style? If so, please explain what made them unique.

I had so many exceptional teachers…but three high school educators had an indelible impact on my life. Ms. Cacciapaglia, Spanish teacher, taught me that language learning was both challenging and exciting, and might someday open doors that could change my life. Her skills in teaching a new language were in evidence as she moved through the classroom, maintaining eye contact as she repeated the sounds and rhythms that she expected us to master. I’ll always remember Tom Christie, business teacher and head baseball coach, who demanded excellence, persistence and attention to detail from all of those with whom he worked. It’s quite revealing that the personal letter he wrote to my parents after my senior year is still today one of my prized possessions.  And Clint Hannah, business teacher and head basketball coach, became personally invested in my development as an athlete and an individual, nurturing my growth during four years under his leadership and influence. 

>>>What do you see as the major challenges in education today?

One of the greatest challenges moving forward will be the recruitment, development and retention of school leaders and classroom teachers.  Wish it weren’t so, but the culture wars being  fought in our communities are here to stay. School board members and superintendents are now publicly threatened in unprecedented frequency, and their hires are squarely in the cross hairs of the chaos dividing our country. In a recent National Association of Secondary School Principals study, four in ten school principals stated that they would leave their current posts within three years. Hiring personnel is difficult enough, but the focus moving forward must be on development and retention. Resources to support great teaching should be differentiated and focused. And successful teachers should be publicly embraced and celebrated. Those master teachers and leaders who are the backbone of public schooling must be emboldened and supported, lest they become an endangered species. 

>>>Are standardized testing and traditional roles to teaching and evaluating in need of transformation and, if so, what should they look like?

It’s astonishing that we devote so little discussion to the evaluation methodologies employed in schools today. The undeniable moments when schools reconnect with taxpaying parents most often occur when content area tests are graded, when statewide testing results are released, and when grade-point averages are calculated. Therefore, schools must devote additional resources to the design of clear, measurable rubrics that reflect the learning targets in each classroom. It is essential that locally designed and developed evaluation methods are connected to statewide learning benchmarks that encourage transparency and comparison. 

If we expect student achievement to improve across the country, national standards that are state-supported must become a reality. Just as engaged students learn from each other in dynamic classrooms, the best teachers and schools grow by understanding and replicating best practices. 

>>>Who should have the final say in what is taught in schools?

Love this question! This has recently re-emerged as a hot button, campaign issue in my state (Virginia) as well as others across the country. It is widely accepted that public schools must be responsive to the public, and should incorporate practices that involve parents in meaningful ways.WHAT is taught in the classroom should be driven by curricula that are jointly developed by learning specialists, administrators, teachers, and, yes, parents who serve on such committees in many districts.  Decisions regarding WHEN and HOW approved curriculum is taught should be the domain of teachers, who observe and understand the strengths and deficiencies of the students in their care.

I proudly remember the kindergarten teacher whose class I visited during the first year of my superintendency. Her learning environment was electric, with so many balls in the air that it was impossible to imagine that kids with such varied experiences and skills could thrive and grow. But learn and thrive they did, a fact I know because I observed this cohort of students throughout my twelve years as CEO. This group of students was doing much more than mastering tests. As they moved through the system, they were becoming student leaders in clubs and other organizations. 

It was clear to me that one exceptional, highly creative teacher had worked her magic to leave a mark on those that she touched. And she did it her way, involving parents and the community as a whole in the growth of her students. Parents became her cheerleaders, encouraging and enabling her as she continued to touch lives. This exceptional teacher is far from the only one. Many more teachers like her are out there stimulating learning every day, and they must be encouraged, recognized, and supported by school leaders and communities.

Copyright: Chuck Cascio and James Upperman; all rights reserved.

Send your thoughts to chuckwrites@yahoo.com

 

Transforming Education Today: Second in a series

TRANSFORMING EDUCATION TODAY
(Second in a Series of Interviews with Leaders in Education)
Featuring Dr. Elizabeth Arons
 
Note from Chuck Cascio: Given the difficult issues facing educators today in the USA, I am presenting a series in which I contact established educators and request their insights, in their own words, on a number of vitally important education issues. Readers who would like to comment on the views expressed may email me at chuckwrites@yahoo.com. My Twitter handle is @ChuckCascio. Not all comments will be responded to by me and/or the individuals interviewed, but all will be read and, if appropriate, forwarded to others engaged in meaningful education reform. I am pleased to present as the second interview in this series of the views of Dr. Elizabeth Arons, whose profile follows:
 
Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Arons (earons@theushca.org) has served for more than 50 years in public education with more than 40 of those years as a leader in human resources in public school systems. As founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Schools Human Capital Academy (www.ushcacademy.org), she has established an initiative that focuses on essential human resources reform and the development of human capital leaders. Betsy has also served as Chief Executive Officer of Human Resources for New York City Department of Education; as Associate Superintendent, Human Resources, Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools; and as Director of Human Resources in Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools. Throughout her leadership roles, Betsy has instituted numerous human capital and human resources reforms to elevate the strategic role of HR in meeting student achievement goals. Early in her distinguished career, Betsy served as an assistant principal intern and a high school English teacher. Following are her views on transforming education today:

 

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>>>What inspired your career as a leader in education?
 
The lack of women leaders (Principals, Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents) back in the '70's and '80's was notable, and I felt the need for more women who represented a vast majority of teachers to expand more into leadership roles.  
 
>>>What do you see as the major challenges in education today?  
 
The critical shortage of both teachers and principals that existed before the pandemic has now increased even more, and I see no signs that it will be improving. I strongly believe we have to rethink the concept of a quality teacher in every classroom and drastically change the role of the teacher and begin using technology to solve the shortages.
 
>>>Has the remote learning that started as a result of the pandemic become entrenched as a new direction that education will take and, if so, could it have a positive impact?  
 
Yes...and definitely yes!  Why do we continue to look for, say, 23 Physics teachers for 23 high schools? Why not one excellent Physics teacher piped into 23 high schools with aides in the classroom to help students with homework, labs, etc.?  While technology may not be able to replace a teacher in every classroom for elementary-aged students, it certainly can work for middle and high school students.
 
>>>What can be done to encourage people to go into teaching or other areas of education?
 
Teaching careers that are all 9 1/2 month jobs cannot ever compete with 12-month salaried jobs.  We have to employ teachers to work a 12-month year with a 12-month salary.  There are many functions they could perform over the summer, including curriculum design and review, student achievement results, planning for the coming year, etc.  They still could have vacation time in July, but it is critical that their salary levels are comparable to all the other 12-month careers available.  
 
>>>What makes you optimistic about education when you look ahead for the next 3-5 years and what concerns you the most over that time period?  
 
In a strange way, the pandemic has shown us the power of technology and remote learning, even when students are physically present in schools.  If we don't take advantage of that learning now, we will miss a huge opportunity to redesign education.  I think it will take 3-5 years to accomplish that redesign, and it will be a difficult pill to swallow for teachers' unions, because it will mean far fewer employees to meet educational needs.  So working collaboratively to take advantage of this moment with all stakeholders is critical.
>>>What do you consider to be the appropriate line between politics and education--including the role of Federal, state,and local governments as well as school boards--in establishing standards, content, and policy, 
particularly in K-12 public education?
 
The lines between the varied roles of Federal, state, local governments and School Boards are often blurred.  Ideally, the Federal government would provide funding with no strings attached, set broad policies with a wide band, and School Boards would handle policies without micromanaging superintendents.  But the reality is that each governmental entity wants to regulate and micromanage, and the result is that school districts are more regulated than almost any other entity.  The most recent example in Virginia is the most egregious, where the Governor has established a hotline for parents to report any teacher who broaches a subject the parent disagrees with or does not want their child exposed to.  We are dealing with an atmosphere of intervention by Federal, state, local governments, as well as School Boards and now parents, making the life of a principal and teacher extremely hard to handle.  I fear this will cause many who have no autonomy to leave the profession.  
 
Copyright: Chuck Cascio and Elizabeth Arons; all rights reserved.

chuckwrites@yahoo.com

 

TRANSFORMING EDUCATION TODAY

 

TRANSFORMING EDUCATION TODAY

(First in a Series of Interviews with  Leaders in Education)

Featuring Dr. Kurt Landgraf

Note from Chuck Cascio: Given the difficult issues facing educators today in the USA, I am presenting a series in which I contact established educators and request their insights, in their own words, on a number of vitally important education issues. Readers who would like to comment on the views expressed may email me at chuckwrites@yahoo.com. My Twitter handle is @ChuckCascio. Not all comments will be responded to by me and/or the individuals interviewed but all will be read and, if appropriate, forwarded to others engaged in meaningful education reform. I am pleased to present as the first interview in this series of “Transforming Education Today” the views of Dr. Kurt Landgraf, whose profile follows:

Dr. Kurt Landgraf is a retired President of Washington College in Chestertown, MD. Kurt was also President of Educational Testing Service for 14 years, and President and CEO of DuPont Merck Pharmaceuticals. His personal academic career includes a BS in Economics from Wagner College, a MS in Economics from Pennsylvania State University, a MEd from Rutgers University, an AMP from Harvard University, and five honorary doctorates. 

 

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>>>Recalling your own life as a student, going back as far as you would like, what do you remember as the most positive and most negative educational influences for you personally? I went to a lower socioeconomic city school  system in New Jersey. High school was actually on triple sessions because the town would not pass an  educational bond issue. Not much was expected of students. Very few went on to college. I was lucky because I  was recruited by Wagner College on Staten Island, New York, to play baseball there.

 

>>>Can you identify an educator (or educators) who provided you with uniquely positive insights into subject matter as well as teaching style? If so, please explain what made them unique. Professor William Maher, my Economics professor at Wagner, changed my life. He saw potential in me that no one else ever did. He encouraged me to start taking college seriously and to go for an advanced degree in Economics. 

 

>>>What do you see as the major challenges in education today? In K-12 education the major challenge is the differential funding by economic area. Often referred to as the Zip Code Differential, it impacts students in lifelong ways. That differential and the growth of non-public schools are increasingly disadvantageous to K-12 public education. In higher education, the costs associated with attending college are soaring and with it student debt. This reality is changing who wants to go--and/or who can go--to college. Every higher education sector, except select “elite “ institutions, is seeing enrollment declines, increased dropout rates, etc. Many colleges are facing serious financial pressure, with some even facing liquidation.  The community college group of schools is increasingly moving to a more technical education curriculum, but they are still struggling. 

 

>>>What do you consider to be the appropriate line between politics and education--including the role of Federal, state,and local governments as well as school boards--in establishing standards, content, and policy, particularly in K-12 public education?  I strongly believe in national standards for K-12 education, as is done in most of the developed countries of the world. The National Governors Association tried to implement basic standards but, after establishing them, they were undermined at the state and local levels. The United States Constitution does not mandate education but unless national standards with return on investment criteria are implemented, the US will continue to fall behind the rest of the world in student achievement. I would also argue that establishing a state board of education would be a positive influence as compared to the current environment of many local-based school boards.

 

>>>What can be done to encourage people to go into teaching or other areas of education? Pay a meaningful salary!!! Current compensation is still based upon the model where teachers were second family-income earners, primarily from women. By increasing pay, you will get more really good people attracted to teaching and staying in education for their careers.


>>>
Should high school and college students be encouraged to participate  in internships to help enrich their learning? If so, what can be done to stimulate this participation?   I think internships at every level, high school through Doctorates make a huge difference!!! These internships require partnerships with government, corporate, and other private sector organizations.

 

>>>What would you consider to be the single most important key to positive transformation of education in the US?  For me, the single most important thing is to reduce the role of socio-economic standing in determining resource allocation to education providers. Equal opportunity needs to become reality, not just a stated, well meaning goal. 

Copyright: Chuck Cascio and Kurt Landgraf; all rights reserved.

Starting Points and Destinations


STARTING POINTS AND DESTINATIONS…
By
Xi Chen & Ben Waxman

(NOTE: This piece originally appeared in the Recruiting and Intelligence Blog of Intead.com, a company specializing in global and local academic branding. It is reprinted here with permission from Intead.com, a company that specializes in "Strategic Marketing to Attract, Recruit, Orient & Retain Students.")

     People always say your destination matters more than your starting point because what you have started might end up being a completely different path. It's more important that you focus on the destination. But to me, the starting point is as important as the destination, even though I'm still far away from my destination.

     Eight years ago, as a fresh graduate, I was so excited to accept an offer as my first full-time job that I almost ignored the exact position—a digital marketing associate at an education consulting company. At that time, I didn't know this offer meant I had knocked on the door of education, and it was the starting point of my following years in a career in the education industry. 

From Northeastern China to Northeastern U.S.

     Born and raised in northeastern China, I grew up with ice and snow. The snow from October to May at Syracuse University wasn't that hard for me. But my study life, on the other hand, was not easy. I was trying to keep up with my studies while getting used to college life in the U.S., and at the same time worrying about finding a job after graduation. Majoring in new media management, 2012 to 2013 was a good time, with the robust development of Google, Facebook, and all kinds of rising social media platforms. Without hesitation, right after my graduation, I moved to NYC (technically NJ). 

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From Upstate NY to NYC

     My first month in NYC I was doing only one thing every day: editing cover letters and sending resumes. Though I had graduated with a master's degree in New Media Management, it was not easy for an international student holding OPT to find a legit job in the new media area. I kept taking interviews: SEO specialist, marketing specialist, or digital marketing coordinator.

     One day in August, I got a phone call. It was a phone interview, followed by a face-to-face conversation at a Starbucks in NYC. That was the first time I got to know Intead, an education marketing consulting agency, focusing on international education and global student recruitment marketing. With the international student population growing rapidly at the time, Intead was a relatively new marketing agency and also growing rapidly. The team was putting a tremendous effort into doing the client work and getting known in the industry.

     I worked for Intead during my whole OPT period and grew from having very little idea about digital marketing for global recruitment to having hands-on experiences managing the company's integrated marketing platform, practicing SEO, SEM, and paid search that I learned from my Newhouse classes at Syracuse. It was thrilling meeting with clients and participating in strategy-making processes, and so much more. 

     During the 12 months, I had the opportunity to do online marketing, email campaigns, SEO, learn a new marketing automation platform (Hubspot), and participate in app development. I was joining client visits and developing training workshops. I helped coordinate Intead's first-ever Global Marketing Workshop for Academic Leaders held at the sparkling, new SUNY Global Center at 116 East 55th Street in Manhattan!

Even now I still feel the year passed too fast. That I really wanted to learn more and do more with Intead.

     This first job helped me transition from campus to the workplace and practice what I had learned while expanding my knowledge and abilities, and most importantly, officially introduced me to the education industry. After I returned home to China at the end of OPT, my first job in Beijing came to me instead of me looking for it.

From NYC to Beijing

     After reunion with my family, I came to Beijing to start looking for a job. Unbeknownst to me, Michael, CEO of Intead at that time, recommended me at an education conference to a start-up founder who was looking for a marketing specialist. Thus began my three-and-a-half-years of work at an extracurricular activity education company in China.

     During this time, I had the privilege to witness and participate in the growth of a startup company, which went from 7 people to over 50, and I grew from a marketing specialist to the leader of a team of 15 people.

     Following that job, I found exciting opportunities with international publishers, international schools, and the world's leading STEM product company. Since my graduation from Syracuse, I have been deeply involved in the education industry, gaining experience in both B2B and B2C marketing.

     Looking back, I am most grateful for my experience at Intead. I can say that it laid the foundation for all my development so far, and I couldn't have developed and done everything in the workplace without the starting point and the knowledge and skills I learned at the beginning.

From Beijing to?

     I was lucky to meet a good company, a responsible leader, a strong team, and an industry that inspires my passion. I'm also happy to have used this time to get down to business and improve myself, gaining transferable experience that has helped me get to where I am today. I may not know where I'll go next, but with this great start, I can work confidently toward wherever I go.

     So often, the starting point defines the destination, and you can’t see it until you get there.

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