Learning Lab II: The Effect of Federal Funding on the Quality of K-12 Education

Each fall, the sophomore class of Park Scholars travels to Washington, D.C. to study a leadership challenge facing our country. This year, the Class of 2013 focused on national education reform in the wake of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, reauthorized in 2001 as the No Child Left Behind Act.

The Class of 2013 at the U.S. Capitol during Learning Lab II.

“Learning Lab II, in both its planning and execution, was a phenomenal and inspiring educational experience. It deeply widened my understanding of the education system in our country, and instilled in me a previously unseen passion for the study and practice of education,” says Ric Chapman ‘13.

Park Scholars met with a range of individuals representing federal and state government, think tanks, educational organizations, principals, and teachers to learn about educational priorities set by the current administration and programs designed to carry out these priorities. Guest speakers addressed issues such as measuring student achievement and teacher effectiveness, implementing the Race to the Top program, improving the quality of teachers, and balancing a focus in math and science with the arts and humanities.

After meetings held at the U.S. Capitol, Rayburn House Office Building, and National Education Association, the class attended a performance of the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center and toured the White House. Park Scholars also met with area alumni, including a discussion with Teach for America corps member Everett Warren ‘10, and a monument tour led by The Times of London Washington Bureau correspondent Matt Spence ‘04 and George Washington University Law School student Caitlin Meisenbach ‘07.

“The focus of our experience led us to conclude what works in the education system and what needs to be done to provide the most effective education given the available resources,” says Claire Lucas ‘13. “We learned in Washington and now it is our responsibility to act in our community.”

Learning Lab II Speakers:

Dr. Denise Alston, Senior Policy Analyst, National Education Association Priority Schools Campaign

Dr. June St. Clair Atkinson, North Carolina State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Kevin Carey, Policy Director, Education Sector

Dr. Marla Dean, Principal, Drew-Freeman Middle School, Prince George’s County Public Schools

Dr. Adriane Dorrington, Senior Policy Analyst, National Education Association Teacher Quality

Matthew Finucane, Senior Policy Analyst, National Education Association Education Policy and Practice

Dr. Carl Harris, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education Policy and State Technical Assistance, U.S. Department of Education

Michael Lach, Special Assistant for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education, U.S. Department of Education

Chris Minnich, Senior Membership Director, Council of Chief State School Officers

Laura Thrift, Legislative Assistant for Congressman David Price

Everett Warren, Teach for America Corps Member, Drew-Freeman Middle School, Prince George’s County Public Schools