Mary Brabeck, dean of NYU Steinhardt, recently visited Capitol Hill to lead a briefing for congressional staff about the importance of educational research in developing highly qualified teachers. The briefing, titled Teacher Quality: Research on the Science of Teaching and Learning, was hosted by the Learning and Education Academic Research Network (LEARN) Coalition, a group of seventeen deans from leading schools of education that advocate in support of federal investments into the scientific understanding of learning and human development.
“Education in the United States has changed significantly in recent decades, but we still do not have the research to determine what makes an effective teacher,” said Dean Brabeck. The federal agencies that fund education research are the Institute for Education Sciences (Dept of Education), the Education and Human Resources Directorate (National Science Foundation), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health.
“Congress must boost investment is the educational science agencies in order to answer some basic questions about the science of learning. This is essential as we attempt to foster a highly educated workforce capable of competing in the integrated global economy,” added Brabeck. Funding for the key educational research agencies has remained largely stagnant in recent years – and pales in comparison to federal investments in traditional health and physical science research. Less than 1 percent of the entire Department of Education budget is currently spent on educational research.
The presentation was directed at congressional staff that specializes in education policy. Next year Congress is expected to tackle two pieces of legislation, the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act and the reauthorization of the Institute for Education Sciences, that will focus on improving teacher quality and student learning outcomes. From New York, staff members from the offices of Senator Hillary Clinton, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Rep. Tim Bishop and Rep. Eliot Engel attended the briefing.
Along with Brabeck, Stanford Dean Linda Darling-Hammond, University of Michigan Dean Debra Loewenberg Ball and University of Washington Dean Patricia Wasley also provided presentations on the need to boost federal investment in educational research. The LEARN Coalition Deans will return to Washington D.C. in the spring for their annual advocacy day where they will have individual meetings with Members of Congress and key staff prior to the beginning of the fiscal year 2010 appropriations process.