From April 13 to 16, IEL hosted its 52nd Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) 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—thehighest WPS attendance ever.
Inspired by this fall’s presidential election and the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the 2016 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 a lively congressional simulation, an interactive national forum on education, and role-based meaning-making sessions.
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. Keynote speakers included Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania secretary of education; Roberto Rodriguez, deputy assistant to the president for education at the White House; Judy Schneider, senior analyst at the Congressional Research Service; Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress; Lindsay Fryer, senior education policy advisor for the U.S. Senate HELP Committee; and Raul Gonzalez, senior program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Fellows participated in state-specific activities on Capitol Hill and at organizations around D.C. Many Fellows also participated in optional events, such as a performance by the Capitol Steps; EPFP alumni-led post-conference tours of the Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorials and the Kennedy Center, and pre-conference site visits at think tanks, charter schools, federal agencies, and national membership organizations;