Former Cal TAC Member Brings Classroom Experience to Nation's Capitol
Peg Cagle, a former member of the California Teacher Advisory Council
(Cal TAC), is serving as an Albert Einstein
Distinguished Educator Fellow. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Image courtesy of the Triangle Coalition.
Successful education reform, particularly in STEM disciplines,
(science, technology, engineering and mathematics), has been a major
concern both for California and the nation in general. The gap between
education policy and practice can, however, at times be significant. For
educator Peg Cagle, a former member of the California Teacher Advisory
Council (Cal TAC), this is a gap that needs to be addressed at every
"The benefits of a strong STEM education system go well beyond the
classroom," said Cagle, who is currently serving as an Albert Einstein
Distinguished Educator Fellow in the office of Senator Kirsten
Gillibrand (D-NY). "It's really a progenitor of innovation. STEM
education is the ultimate economic engine." (In 2011, CCST in fact
identified education as one of
three key areas for the state to focus on in its assessment of
California's innovation ecosystem.)
Cagle, who served as a mathematics teacher in the Los Angeles Unified
School District for 17 years, learned early that working towards a
stronger mathematics program required action beyond the boundaries of
"I saw how much influence various levels of the system exerted on the
classroom," said Cagle. "I felt that, if I wasn't working for my
students outside the classroom, I wasn't doing all I could."
Cagle, a National Board certified teacher who has recently been
elected to the Board of Directors for the National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics, has been recognized both locally and nationally, with
honors ranging from LAUSD Teacher of the Year to Presidential Award for
Excellence in Mathematics Teaching - the nation's highest recognition
for math teachers. She served for three years on Cal TAC, an
organization of master teachers in California sponsored by CCST, before
moving to D.C.
"Bringing the voice and perspective of teachers into policy
discussions is vital," she noted. "The realities of the classroom can be
very far from the rooms where policy is crafted. Especially in times
when budgets are challenging, we've got to keep repeating the importance
of K-12 STEM education, and stay focused and on target when reforms are
moving in effective directions."
Cagle feels that the adoption of common core math standards in
California is one such positive step, and may contribute positively to
STEM education overall.
"If we say that making cogent arguments is just as important as
learning to compute with fractions, for example, we can help force a shift in
the landscape, so to speak. It marks a move towards developing thinking
in qualitative terms, instead of just quantitative terms. That is a move
which could improve our approach to all STEM disciplines."
She will remain in D.C. through late in 2012, during which time she
hopes to build on opportunities for greater collaboration between the
Einstein Fellows program and organizations such as the National Teacher
Advisory Council, the organization which inspired California's
"California is very fortunate to have a resource such as Cal TAC
available as part of its education policy discussions," said Cagle. "Cal
TAC still has unfulfilled potential in terms of its role. But just the
fact that teachers are being listened to is huge. I am so proud of the
fact that CCST has taken it upon themselves to support an organization
like Cal TAC."
"STEM education is our nation's best insurance for the future," she
said. "I am thankful to have the chance to bring classroom experience
into discussions on our educational future."
CCST Spotlight is a weekly
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and technology research, applications, and policy issues in California.
The Spotlight editor is Danny DeCillis.
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