How I got drawn into education reform

Editor's Note: We're thrilled to welcome Mary Laval DuPre as our Education Pioneer intern this summer. This is Mary's first blog for us.

My senior year of college I took a class called Education in American Society. It was an education course for non-education majors. The course book describes it as an “examination of the beliefs and attitudes associated with the historical, philosophical, sociological, political and economic forces affecting education and schooling in the United States.” University of North Carolina students describe it as an easy “A.”

Admittedly, I registered with the hope of cruising through my final elective requirement. And judging by the large number of student athletes and Greeks surrounding me, many of my classmates had the same idea.

I got that easy “A.” But I also got something I didn't expect: one of the most interesting and interactive classroom experiences of my college career. The topics sparked heated in-class debates. I participated more in that class than I had in any other. Not because I thought I needed to make an impression on the professor, but because I felt compelled to share my perspective. I was surprised by how strongly I felt about issues such as vouchers and Pre-K education.

Now I’m a graduate student, working towards a degree in public administration at the University of Georgia. I hope to turn my interest in education into a career in education administration/policy. 

I’m spending ten weeks this summer with DC Action for Children as an Education Pioneer Fellow. Education Pioneers is an organization that recruits graduate students from a variety of disciplines like law, business, policy and education, and places them in urban education organizations in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco or D.C.

The ultimate goal is that the Fellows will pursue a career leading, managing and reforming the public education system post-graduation. There are 48 other Fellows working in the District with me this summer, and we’re placed in organizations ranging from Teach for America to DCPS to the Fordham Institute.

I can’t wait to get started with DC Action for Children and learn about everything they do to improve the lives of “D.C.’s youngest citizens.” In my 10 weeks here I’ll identify and define education indicators needed to report in DC Action’s first KIDS COUNT Fact Book, dive deep into an education policy issue in D.C. to produce an issue brief and blog about what I learn at Education Pioneer workshops on issues like the District’s achievement gap and school decisions.

More from me later!