Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

On Wednesday, leading policy makers, educators and industry leaders gathered to address approaches to modernize and elevate the teaching profession to meet the demands of a globally competitive world at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Panelists discussed how critical it is for every U.S. student to have an outstanding teacher, agreed that there needs to be a culture shift in order to elevate the teaching profession and provided examples of great teaching and teaching programs.

Programs such as Microsoft’s TEALS and Partners in Learning initiatives, the CityBridge-NewSchools Education Innovation Fellowship, TLINC, UMUC’s teacher certification programs and TEACH.org were discussed. Following the discussion, there was a robust Q&A session with the audience focused on issues related to teacher recruitment and retention, teacher preparation programs and technology use in classrooms.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) delivered introductory remarks on the critical role that teachers play in our students’ and country’s future, as well as the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and the work that Maryland is doing to improve STEM curricula in its schools.

The panel was moderated by Code.org Director of Education Pat Yongpradit. Panelists included University of Maryland University College President Javier Miyares, CityBridge Foundation Education Innovation Fellow Ericka Senegar-Mitchell, Microsoft Education Policy and Programs Director Allyson Knox and National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Melinda George.

The event coincided with the company marking the one-year impact of Microsoft YouthSpark, a global, company-wide initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world by 2015 through partnerships with governments, nonprofit organizations and businesses. As part of the YouthSpark program, Microsoft is doubling its TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program in the U.S. to reach a total of 3,500 students in 70 high schools in 12 states. This week also marks the one-year anniversary of our announcement of the National Talent Strategy, a blueprint for bolstering the United States’ human capital and economic competitiveness.

Following the panel, we spoke with The CityBridge Foundations’ Ericka Senegar-Mitchell on the importance of letting teachers also act as leaders for education policy:

We also spoke with Code.org’s Pat Yongpradit, a former computer science teacher, on the need for better STEM education in order to keep the United States competitive:

Missed the event but want to learn more? Check out the Microsoft YouthSpark Hub and participate in the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #STEMEdu.