2011 AAPT Symposium on Physics Education Addresses Education Policy

For more information, please contact:
Marilyn Gardner, American Association of Physics Teachers
301-209-3306 (office) mgardner@aapt.org


College Park, Maryland, November 19, 2010 –The Fifth Annual Symposium on Physics Education will address the ways that AAPT, working with its partners, keeps policy makers informed on the views of physics educators and suggests appropriate policy options within their sphere of influence.  The symposium will bring together individuals who play pivotal roles in helping to shape policies and who provide information to policy makers.  The 2011 symposium will take place January 11 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront Hotel in Jacksonville, FL.

The symposium, Education Policy: Having an Impact, Improving the Landscape, will be chaired by Noah Finkelstein of the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Speakers will be U.S. Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers, Michael Lach, and Dahlia Sokolov.

U.S. Representative Vernon J. Ehlers, Grand Rapids, MI
U.S. Rep. Ehlers (R-MI) was first elected to the 103rd Congress in a special election on Dec. 7, 1993. He joined Congress following a distinguished tenure of service in teaching, scientific research, and public service. He has served on numerous boards and commissions and was elected to the Kent County (Mich.) Board of Commissioners, and the Michigan House and Senate. The first research physicist to serve in Congress, Ehlers has been recognized for his strong work ethic and proven leadership skills in his duties on Capitol Hill. As a member of the 111th Congress, Ehlers serves on three standing House committees. He also co-chairs the STEM Ed Caucus, which is dedicated to improving the nation’s K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. He serves on the Science and Technology Committee (previously known as the House Science Committee) and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Ehlers also is a member of the Education and Labor (previously the Education and the Workforce) Committee, where he blends his efforts with the Science Committee on improving math and science education.

Michael Lach, Special Assistant for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education, U.S. Department of Education
Michael Lach leads science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education efforts at the U. S. Department of Education. Previously, he  was Officer of Teaching and Learning for the Chicago Public Schools, overseeing curriculum and instruction in the 600+ schools that comprise the nation’s third largest school district. Lach began his professional career teaching high school biology and general science at Alceé Fortier Senior High School in New Orleans in 1990 as a charter member of Teach For America, the national teacher corps. After three years in Louisiana, he joined the national office of Teach For America as Director of Program Design, developing a portfolio based alternative-certification system that was adopted by several states. Returning to the science classroom in 1994 in New York City Public Schools, and then back to Chicago in 1995 to Lake View High School, he was named one of Radio Shack’s Top 100 Technology Teachers, earned National Board Certification, and was named Illinois Physics Teacher of the Year. He has served as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, advising Congressman Vernon Ehlers on science, technology, and education issues.

Stephen Pruitt, Vice President for content, Research and Development, Achieve
Stephen Pruitt was named Vice President for Content, Research and Development in November of 2010.  He joined Achieve as the Director of Science in July of 2010.  In addition to his new role, he will continue to lead the development of the Next Generation Science Standards.  Stephen began his career as a high school Chemistry teacher in Georgia, where he taught for 12 years. In 2003, he joined the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) as the Program Manager for Science. He served in that role for four years before becoming Director of Academic Standards, where he oversaw the continued implementation of the Georgia Performance Standards in all content areas. In 2008 he became the Associate Superintendent of Assessment and Accountability, responsible for directing all state assessments and overseeing the No Child Left Behind accountability process. In April 2009, Stephen became Chief of Staff to State School Superintendent Kathy Cox, coordinating the work of the agency and a variety of projects such as Georgia's third-ranked Race to the Top application.  In addition to his state-level work, Stephen also served as President of the Council of State Science Supervisors and a member of the writing team for the College Board’s Standards for College Success Science Standards.  Most recently, he served on the National Academies of Science’s Committee on Conceptual Framework for New Science Education Standards, which is developing the framework for the Next Generation Science Education Standards.

The 2011 AAPT Winter Meeting takes place January 8-12 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront Hotel in Jacksonville, FL. This year’s theme is “100 Years of Nuclear Physics.” The full meeting program, workshop, and directions to the hotel are at: http://www.aapt.org/Conferences/wm2011/.

Journalists are invited to cover the meeting onsite. News releases describing meeting highlights, including this year’s plenary lectures featuring several nationally renowned speakers, are available at: http://aapt.org/aboutaapt/PressReleases.cfm.

Members of the press can request information and are invited to cover the upcoming meeting onsite. Credentials can be obtained by contacting Marilyn Gardner at mgardner@aapt.org or 301-209-3306.

AAPT is the leading organization for physics educators -- with more than 10,000 members worldwide. Its mission is to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching. AAPT was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland.