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Letter to Alums


Re: MIT's K-12 Education Programs

Ronald M. LatanisionDear Alums:

This past year, 2001, has been particularly eventful in terms of the evolution of MIT's institutional agenda in precollege education. First, I am especially pleased to announce the establishment of the Joseph B. ('54MG) and Rita P. Scheller Career Development Professorship for Teacher Education. Joe is the retired CEO of Silberline Manufacturing Company of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. Professor Eric Klopfer, Head of our Teacher Education Program (TEP), is the first holder of this professorship. The establishment of this endowed professorship is symbolic of both the Schellers' concern for the quality of the educational experience that is made available to teachers in the United States and MIT's institutional commitment to make it possible for some of the best and brightest students in this country to become prepared to teach in the K-12 systems. The Scheller professorship represents an historic milestone in the evolution of MIT's K-12 agenda.

I should also quickly add that the TEP Fall 2001 enrollment, 35 students from 16 departments, is the largest in the history of this program. You may recall that the administrative home for TEP is in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, but students come to the program from a multiplicity of disciplines. During the past year Eric has moved into a newly renovated office and laboratory. The latter is an electronic classroom dedicated to the use of educational technology in science education. Eric's emphasis on simulation and modeling of chemical, physical and biological phenomena as a tool in science education is drawing considerable attention as is his newly published book "Adventures in Modeling: Exploring Complex, Dynamic Systems with Star Logo" with co-authors Venessa Colella and Prof. Mitchell Resnick from MIT's Media lab.

Our Science and Engineering Program for Teachers continues each summer with sustaining support from MIT alum, H. Johan von der Goltz ('60MG), Founder and General Partner of Boston Capital Ventures. Of the 74 participants who attended in June 2001, 22 were from countries other than the U.S. — Argentina, Hong Kong, Norway, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. We had a waiting list of over 50 people that we would like to have had at MIT. We may be approaching a time when SEPT will have to be expanded. The alums of this program, The Network of Educators in Science and Technology (NEST), are outstanding award-winning teachers. During the summer of 2001, we set a record for alumni involvement in this program as 14 MIT Alumni Clubs around the world sponsored 43 teachers who participated in the program. We thank the
Club of Argentina
Club of Boston
Club of S. California
Club of Cape Cod
Club of Colorado
Club of Delaware Valley
Club of S.W. Florida
Club of Hong Kong
Club of Maine
Club of S. E. Michigan
Club of New Jersey, Princeton
Club of Norway
Club of South Texas
Club of Washington-Puget Sound

After our Friday evening banquet, Johan von der Goltz made bilingual remarks for the benefit of our guests from abroad. Given that we already have a delegation from Austria on-board for June of 2002, we'll test his language skills again. Johan preceded Radio Hall of Famer Fred Foy, our dinner speaker. Fred was the announcer for The Lone Ranger Show on radio and television and later for the Dick Cavet show on television.

The Association of American Universities (AAU) Task Force on K-16 Education, which I chair, continued its work during the past year. The Task Force recently hosted a Forum on Best Practices in Teacher Education at the House of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge. The goal of this Forum was to provide all the AAU member institutions with the intellectual and programmatic means to establish programs on their campuses that will certify disciplinary majors to teach at the precollege level. This is in response to the adoption by the Presidents and Chancellors of the AAU institutions of the Task Force's Resolution on Teachers Education, which encouraged the establishment of such programs on the AAU campuses. I am certain that you will not be surprised to learn that MIT's Teacher Education Program is a model for this initiative. More than 120 people representing AAU member institutions attended this Forum. It was webcast and you may view some of the sessions through the AAU website.

The AAU initiative Standards for Success moved into its second year of work. With $2.4 million of support, largely from The Pew Charitable Trusts, this program will provide admissions officers with the tools to compare the qualifications and skills of students from states with different proficiency standards. Tools developed by S4S will enable AAU universities, and others as well, to make better informed admissions and placement decisions about incoming students.

In addition, with encouragement from the National Science Foundation and MIT's Center for Materials Science and Engineering as a model, the Task Force is working to make research experience available to in-service teachers on the campuses of all 63 member institutions. My expectation is that next summer we will have 10-15 such teachers at MIT in a variety of center and laboratory settings. My goal is to accommodate 50 people each summer. If all AAU member institutions were to develop similar initiatives, we would collectively reach thousands of in-service teachers each year with such experience.

Finally, I am extremely happy to report that the Class of 1952, which is approaching its 50th reunion, is considering the extension of it's 40th Reunion Educational Initiatives Fund. The latter provided over $200,000 in seed funding nearly 10 years ago, when we launched many of the initiatives that are now active on our campus. The Class of 1952 Fund has had an enormous impact on the evolution of MIT's agenda in K-12 education. In turn, our efforts have fueled programmatic development within the research universities, broadly. Much remains to be done. For example, in Massachusetts and much of the rest of the country, a masters degree in a discipline is required for full certification. (Our TEP students and others who graduate with BS degrees are provisionally certified. This allows them to teach, but they must earn a masters degree within a five year period.) It is our intention, therefore, for TEP to evolve so as to include graduate education. In addition, the work product of Eric Klopfer's workshops on computer simulation is curricular material that teachers develop while at MIT for use in their classrooms. It is clear to us that such material will be valuable to teachers broadly, so we expect to export this material beyond MIT. All of this requires resources in the form of teaching assistants to work with Prof. Klopfer as TEP evolves to a masters-level program, postdoctoral students who can work with Eric in developing computer software that is useful in K-16 classrooms, funds to allow research experience for teachers in the summer, and in other ways.

Mention of the Class of 1952 always reminds me of the continuing advice and encouragement that Dick Heitman, one of the class officers, has provided to me over the past ten years. He has been extraordinary helpful to me and to the Council, and I am happy to publicly thank him for this.

The MIT campus is bustling with new construction. I hope that you may have an opportunity to come to Cambridge sometime soon to see for yourself the remarkable physical plant development that is occurring. When you do that, please do include a visit to my office in your itinerary.

With all best wishes,

Sincerely,
Ronald M. Latanision
CPSE Chairman


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