The Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 20, 1999
September 20, 1999
VOL. 29, NO. 4


Brody Forms Education Forum

By Leslie Rice
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

In just about every campus of the university--East Baltimore, Peabody, Homewood or the Applied Physics Laboratory--compelling research-driven collaborations between Johns Hopkins and K-12 schools in Baltimore City and elsewhere in Maryland are taking place.

Though it has no centralized school of education, Hopkins, among national and local education policy-makers, is considered a pathbreaker in education research and reform. But in this very decentralized university, there has been no mechanism in place that offers a sense of everything Hopkins does in K-12 education. Until now.

Last week, President William R. Brody (pictured at right) announced the creation of The Hopkins Education Forum, a group of education experts throughout the university who will advise the president and Provost Stephen Knapp on urgent regional and national challenges of school reform, and on Hopkins' actual and potential roles in addressing that challenge.

With its first meeting scheduled for next month, the forum is pulling together leaders from university divisions and institutes involved in education research and initiatives. One of the forum's first goals is to refine and analyze a newly developed database of Hopkins K-12 education, says Ed Roulhac, vice provost for academic services and forum staff coordinator.

"President Brody is often asked how Hopkins can improve K-12 education in Maryland," says Roulhac. "Now we have a blue-ribbon panel of experts who can serve as an education think tank for the university. More than that though, it will provide a forum for communication, collaboration and celebration of achievement among Hopkins education professionals and specialists who work in a highly decentralized academic environment."

In addition to Roulhac, members of the forum include Michael Bender, vice president for administration of the Kennedy Krieger Institute; Ralph Fessler, director of the Graduate Division of Education and interim dean of the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education; Phillip Leaf, professor of mental hygiene in the School of Public Health and of psychiatry in the School of Medicine; James McPartland, director of the Center for Social Organization of Schools; Felisa Neuringer, director of public affairs at SAIS; Marion Pines, senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies; Janet Sanfilippo, director of the Office of City and Community Relations; William Tiefenwerth, director of the Office of Volunteer Services and Community Relations; Judith Vessey, professor, master's instruction, in the School of Nursing; Lea Ybarra, director of the Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth; Fran Zarubick, dean of the Peabody Preparatory; and a yet-to-be-confirmed representative from the Whiting School of Engineering.

When it comes to K-12 education, Hopkins is best known for three entities: the Center for Social Organization of Schools, the Graduate Division of Education and the Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth, known as The Institute. Though the three complement each other, each has a different mission and focus. The emphasis at CSOS is on education reform for schools with disadvantaged students. The Division of Education prepares teachers and school leaders, offering graduate degrees in education. The Institute offers education, assessment and services for gifted and talented students. All three programs are highly regarded for their research in each of those areas.

In addition, Hopkins' schools of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health; SAIS; the Peabody Institute; the Applied Physics Laboratory; and the Institute for Policy Studies are also actively involved in the K-12 arena. Overall, the university's K-12 initiatives address contemporary needs such as teacher education, performing arts education, research and evaluation, school-to-work transition, policy analysis, special education, student physical and mental health services, school reorganization and community service.

In all, says Roulhac, there are more than 500 specific, school-based Hopkins collaborations in Baltimore City and other Maryland schools.

For the short term, Roulhac says, the panel's advice to the president and provost will be brought to bear on matters like the Greater Homewood Renaissance initiative, the President's Council on Urban Health, the Eastern High School Development project, Kennedy Krieger Institute initiatives and other endeavors.

Long-term projects will include an occasional meeting or "forum" that invites national leaders to tackle important education topics. For example, the forum might have summits on pressing public policy issues and briefings on major school reform breakthroughs, and host other events that will gather the Hopkins and regional education community to broaden awareness about critical education reform issues.

So far, the forum has generated strong enthusiasm among its members.

"I've been involved in K-12 education at Hopkins for 16 years, and there are still education research programs or projects that I don't know about," explains Ralph Fessler, who is the initial chair of the forum. "Part of that is because education is an incredibly dynamic topic and new programs are constantly occurring, but a lot of it has to do with the decentralization of the university. I think a lot of us involved in K-12 issues see a need to connect with each other, and everyone who has been asked to join the forum seems very excited about it."