In 2009, President Barack Obama announced that America's education system needed reform "from the cradle up through a career." Education reform is a growing field at all career levels. Opportunities exist for teachers, politicians, writers, government bureaucrats, think tank employees and nonprofit workers to impact education reform.
Teach for America
For young and hungry college graduates, working for Teach for America can be a stimulating beginning to a career in education reform. Graduates from all majors are recruited for positions at struggling urban and rural schools. Expectations are high: New teachers work to bring their students up to state standards, while demonstrating leadership and role modeling in the community.
Decide what you think is the most pressing problem facing the education system today, and how you can help fix it. Many Teach for America alums go on to higher positions in schools, as curriculum designers, administrators, department heads and principals. This allows them to impact a small sector of the population, and immediately see the results of their work.
Education Research and Policy
Education researchers try to determine curricula, pedagogical methods and other factors that improve student learning. Education researchers conduct their own research and seek to influence education policy in schools and political circles. Researchers usually work in universities and government agencies. Policy reformers can work in media, think tanks and nonprofits. Areas of focus are diverse. The Arts Education Partnership, for example, works to increase art and creativity in schools.
Politicians who campaign on education issues can attract votes from concerned parents and community leaders, especially if they run for municipal or state positions. They also are in a strong position to raise awareness, direct attention to failing schools and pass legislation that improves schools. Grassroots political movements include Democrats for Education Reform, which pressures politicians to take education seriously.
Department of Education
For high-level education reformers, a career at the U.S. Department of Education could help you make lasting impact on the education system. Department of Education employees collect and analyze data, make policy recommendations, work to eliminate discrimination and lead the national debate on education reform issues. Top positions allow you access to powerful politicians, including the president, further broadening your reach.
- Photo Credit school image by Jerome Dancette from Fotolia.com