The Education Committee examines issues related to providing students in Southwestern Pennsylvanian with the best opportunities to learn, in and outside of the classroom, and succeed in the workforce of the future. The committee’s work spans a broad array of topics, including basic education funding, innovative best practices in education, and career and technical education.
Summary of Current Initiatives
Since March 2020, the Institute's Education Policy Committee engaged in a project that culminated in the development of recommendations for increasing flexibility and equity in the K-12 education system during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. In its report, Learning from Crisis, the committee examined local and national strategies and best practices that offer opportunities to reform the K-12 system in Pennsylvania to make it more nimble, resilient, and learner-centered.
Ongoing and/or Completed Projects
Strengthening Relationships in Education
In 2018-2019, the Institute's Education Policy Committee examined strategies to build capacity among superintendents and other school leaders to serve as more effective advocates for the students in their districts. Click here to learn more.
Career and Technical Education Reform
Since the 2011 release of the Institute of Politics’ status report, Governance and Funding Reform for Career and Technical Centers in Pennsylvania, little has changed to address the structural issues facing Career and Technical Centers (CTCs) in the Commonwealth. Despite existing limitations, schools have continued to innovate, both in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, to deliver Career and Technical Education (CTE) that addresses workforce needs. One of the most significant recent changes in CTE has been the emergence of comprehensive career-based academies within traditional high schools, operating as independent schools. Improved CTCs feature increased academic rigor, a more diverse student body, and actively avoid financial conflict of interest between sending (home) schools and the CTCs in their district. The Institute collaborated with several regional leaders and content experts to develop the updated status report, which examines national trends regarding career, pathway–based schools, and early college high schools, as well as various models of integrating CTE into traditional curricula in regional school districts. The final report, Moving Beyond 20th Century Education: Emerging Trends in CTE and Project-based Learning, can be viewed here.
For the past three years (2015-2017), the Institute has partnered with the Grable Foundation and other regional entities to host and support an event as part of the region’s Remake Learning Days. On May 15, 2017, the Institute hosted approximately 200 students from 10 districts on campus for the “DiscoverEd” event. The students worked together to solve an engineering design challenge. This cooperation helps to break down the artificial barriers that persist between students, teachers, and school leaders in the region by encouraging them to work across district lines.
Advancing Innovation in Education
In May 2015, over 100 educators and school administrators, academics, elected officials, and community leaders gathered to see demonstrations and presentations from approximately 50 students from southwestern Pennsylvania’s most advanced school districts. The presenting districts, Elizabeth Forward, South Fayette, Avonworth, and Butler, along with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, brought with them inventions, projects, and materials that represent the next stage of learning. These districts and others in the region are leading the country in ways that have been recognized nationally by the White House and by the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards.
The Education Committee is cochaired by:
- Dr. Stanley W. Thompson, Senior Program Director, Education, and Executive Director, Pittsburgh Readiness Institute, The Heinz Endowments
Click here for a complete list of committee members.
The Education Committee is carefully crafted to be balanced and represent a variety of stakeholders. However, we occasionally have spots available for members in certain sectors who may be underrepresented on the committee. Please contact Briana Mihok at 412-624-7792 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an interest in serving as a member.
Links to Partners and Resource Information
The following publications issued by the Institute are related to the focus areas of the Education Committee:
- Aaron Lauer and Briana Mihok, Moving Beyond 20th Century Education: Emerging Trends in CTE and Project-based Learning (Uninversity of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, 2017)
- Briana Mihok and Yael Engel, Cooperation and Shared Services: Creating Opportunities for Students in the Face of Budget Challenges (University of Pittsburgh Insitute of Politics, 2013)
- Briana Mihok and Matthew Lieberman, Maintaining Student Achievement During Tough Economic Times: An Environmental Scan of School District Budget Options Unders Consideration for FY 2011-12 (University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, 2011)
- PVAAS and Data Management Case Studies (University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, 2009)
- Clarke Thomas, So No Child Starts Behind (University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, 2007)
- Clarke Thomas, Teachers in Transition a Key: Everybody Learning (University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, 1999)
- Elizabeth Beck, Education and Education Reform: An In-Depth Dialogue (University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, 1996)
- Bruce Barron, K-12 Educational Policy in Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, 1996)