From left, Theodore Schleifer '14, Alex Meyer '12, Katelyn Gostic '13, Tara Thean, Eudes Lopes '13, Kevin Ofori '13, Claire Cole '12, and Emily Myerson '12 before a panel at the Yale School of Management Education Leadership Conference. (Courtesy Tara Thean)

Students from the Princeton chapter of the national nonprofit organization Students for Education Reform (SFER) headed to New Haven, Conn., March 25 to join the Yale School of Management Education Leadership Conference, an annual event for the education reform community. The conference brought together more than 650 policymakers, district superintendents, nonprofit leaders, teachers, community members, and students for panel discussions on education issues of national importance.

Panelists included Newark Charter School Fund founder and Princeton alumnus Stig Leschly ’92, who discussed mayoral control and school board governance of schools in the United States with fellow panelists Robert Bobb, Daniel McKee, and Kathleen Nugent. The four speakers debated what Leschly called “the near failure of democracies in America” in electing the right leaders to provide school vision and oversight.

Meanwhile, Arthur McKee ’90 of the CityBridge Foundation moderated “Lessons learned from Gates’ investments in teacher effectiveness,” a panel discussing the preliminary results shown by the eight districts funded by the 2009 Gates Foundation donation of $335 million to support components of teacher effectiveness.

Also present at the conference was American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who talked about the national implications of reform efforts in New Haven and collective bargaining in United States’ public education.

“I was very excited that Randi Weingarten made such a big push for cooperation between unions and reformers,” said Princeton SFER President Katelyn Gostic ’13, who hopes to become a teacher immediately after graduation.

Many of the Princeton students who intend to pursue careers in education said that the conference was a good opportunity for meeting future colleagues and leaders in education reform.

“Education is the field I really want to go into, but because it’s not a traditional field [Princeton students] tend to enter, the connections within the field are less obvious than, say, the finance field,” Emily Myerson ’12 said.

For Claire Cole ’12, the conference provided with her access to “new learning and passion that can be found in a group of driven and successful leaders.”

“I came to the realization that no one can give me the answers about education reform, and that we’re all figuring it out at the same time,” she said.