Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Judge's hope for research center on education policy becomes real

Ok, here's another story about the construction of our policy center, with a bit more detail than the version in the Houston Chronicle (just posted).

Again, thanks to Gary Sharrer for writing us up!


Judge's hope for research center on education policy becomes real

Web Posted: 07/11/2007 12:35 AM CDT

Gary Scharrer
Express-News Austin bureau

AUSTIN — The widow of Texas Supreme Court Justice Oscar Mauzy remembers the frustration that her husband encountered 18 years ago while writing the court's unanimous decision that the state's school funding system was unconstitutional.
He wanted research-based data to help amplify the ruling.

"He couldn't find any answers," Anne Mauzy said.

The Mauzys decided to help establish an education research and policy center, and Anne Mauzy will be one of the members for the Texas Center on Educational Policy board of directors, which will formally meet for the first time on Thursday.

"There's so much research going on, but there doesn't seem to be any clearinghouse for it," she said. "That's why we set up the policy center and waited around for years for anything to happen."

Oscar Mauzy, a longtime state senator before moving to the court, died nearly seven years ago.

Angela Valenzuela, an education professor at the University of Texas at Austin, is the director for the Texas Center on Educational Policy, based at the university. The center will connect education researchers and provide data for decision makers, including Congress, the Legislature, the State Board of Education and local school boards.

"We will strive to invigorate the discourse and facilitate the sharing of information that will direct the future of education in Texas and beyond our borders," said Valenzuela, who earned her doctorate in sociology from Stanford University. "We will be a leader in Texas with national and international reach."

The center will plunge into major issues affecting Texas education, including teacher quality, bilingual/immigrant education, college readiness, and school accountability and assessment.

"This center will be a bridge between decision makers and people who are doing the research — filling a necessary gap," Valenzuela said.

Any number of "think tanks" churn out position papers on education-related issues, she said, but "many have mercenary researchers ... generating studies that are very ideologically oriented."

Many of those studies typically align with the organization's agenda and are not subject to peer review.

"You won't have researchers (at the Texas Center on Educational Policy) who are hired to generate a particular result. But rather, you have scholars that dedicate their lives to certain research questions and under a peer review method that makes them accountable," Valenzuela said.

The education policy center also will provide research to better connect universities and business, she said.

John Guerra, president of the Texas Association for Mexican American Chambers of Commerce, said a week never passes without corporate leaders expressing anxieties to him about having a quality work force in the future.

"The Center for Education will have great influence in terms of assuring that we have a curriculum that meets the needs of business today and in the future," he said.

Valenzuela said she's mystified that the state of Texas had not created a center for education policy.

"Policy is one of those underdeveloped areas," she said. "As academicians, we really don't get trained to think of our work in those terms. We do our research, conduct our studies with the hope that someone will pick it up and will find it meaningful for progressive change. That's not the way it works."

No comments:

Post a Comment