The Hope Street Group, a Washington D.C.-area, non-profit bipartisan advocacy organization working on national employment, health care and education policy issues, has named Cheney Middle School science teacher Tammie Schrader as a National Teacher Fellow. Schrader is one of 12 selected from a group of 100 educators from 27 states to serve as representatives advocating for education policy changes.
“Hope Street Group’s National Teacher Fellow Program allows teachers not just a seat at the table but a voice that others want to hear,” Hope Street vice president of education Daniel Cruce said in a Jan. 15 news release. “Education reform must be done with teachers, not to teachers.”
In a Feb. 5 interview Schrader said Hope Street trains and instructs teachers on how to work and collaborate with congressional and legislative leaders with regards to policy issues. She has already attended a January training session in Washington D.C. and will meet monthly with the other 11 representatives via teleconferences to discuss education issues such as teacher evaluations and teacher incentives.
“We’re kind of a mouthpiece from one district to another,” she said.
Schrader has served on the state of Washington Science Assessment Leadership Team for 15 years, traveling to Olympia to help write science assessment tests. She has also served on the state’s Education Board for the past three years, working on implementing video games into the curriculum.
Schrader has collaborated with the Iowa-company Filament Games to develop video games targeting low readers that provide science instruction in a format easier for these students to understand. While her class has served as a case study for this, she said the games are also designed to teach students at all levels.
“They’re teaching it in a medium that kids are familiar with,” she said.
Schrader also teaches science methods at Gonzaga University, and said many teachers don’t realize how political, education policy can be.
“Teaching is very political, and I didn’t even understand that until I started to teach,” she said.
One of her big priorities as a Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow is to work with teachers in understanding some of the politics in education and the role of the federal Department of Education, empowering teachers to have a “voice” in their profession.
“The Department of Education is a conduit,” Schrader said. “They want to hear from teachers.”
Schrader returns to Washington, D.C. in March to meet with members of Congress on state education policies. That same month she will also travel to Florida to give a presentation on video game implementation in the classroom to a national conference.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.