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2016 WPS: A Recap

Saturday, April 23, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shaina Cook
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In April 2016, the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) hosted its 52nd Washington Policy Seminar (WPS). This year, the four-day annual capstone event that convenes EPFP Fellows from across the country welcomed 300 Fellows from 17 sites—our highest WPS attendance ever!

Inspired by this fall’s presidential election and the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), WPS focused on the theme Presidential Politics and Education Policy and explored the evolution of the role of the president and the federal government in education policy. Fellows attended 24 sessions that tied together the seminar’s theme and EPFP’s three pillars—policy, leadership, and networking—and provided them the opportunity to meet educators and leaders from across the country and reflect independently on what they had learned throughout their Fellowship year and how it connects to the federal “big picture” presented at WPS. In addition to general plenary sessions and breakout concurrent sessions, Fellows participated in the lively Congressional Simulation, an interactive National Forum on Education, and role-based meaning-making sessions.

WPS left an impact on the Fellows. Here are some of their reflections from the event:

  • School funding must increase if we are to provide the resources needed to reach LBJ’s vision.
  • ESSA created the opportunity for the federal government to work better with states in a post-NCLB era.
  • Only 18% of American college students are taking a “traditional” four-year path to a degree. We need to rethink policy development for the other 82%.
  • Education is a valid passport to opportunity.
  • Whenever you’re in a room where decisions are being made, ask yourself whose perspectives are missing from the table.
  • Is student voice a part of your education reform strategies? If not, it should be.

The 2016 WPS also featured more than 50 speakers, including several EPFP alumni, sharing their expertise on a diverse range of issues and topics, from the history of federal education policy and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to media coverage of education and philanthropic influence in education policy.

In addition to these sessions and speakers, Fellows participated in state-specific Hill Day activities on Capitol Hill and at organizations around DC and a welcome reception to meet Fellows from different sites. Many Fellows also participated in optional activities, such as pre-conference site visits, a performance by the Capitol Steps, and post-conference memorial tours led by local EPFP alumni.

Take a look at the 2016 WPS program, readings and resources suggested by WPS speakers, view photos on our Facebook page, and search our conference hashtag #epfpWPS on Twitter for more reflections from Fellows.

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