Robert Baroz, a Wellesley resident who has taught mainly English in rural, urban, public, private and charter schools over 23 years, recently was tapped by U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan as one of 16 Teacher Ambassador Fellows for this school year. Currently an English teacher in the Boston Public Schools as well as at MassBay Community College, Baroz has never taught in the Wellesley Public School system — though says his kids have had excellent teachers and that Wellesley Public Schools is fortunate to have such a supportive and involved community. Here’s what Baroz had to say regarding his selection as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow:
What will your main responsibilities be as an ambassador?
I have several responsibilities. One involves helping to inform the Education Department about how schools and teachers are impacted by current educational policy. To do this, I participate in several types of outreach activities, either with or on behalf of the Education Department. For instance, last week I was invited to the White House to participate in President Obama’s live televised announcement of the American Jobs Bill, a bill that proposes significant support to public education in connection to other sectors vital to our economy. Public schools within Massachusetts can receive millions of dollars to help build and renovate schools and hire teachers. Afterwards, I attended a roundtable discussion on the proposed bill with leaders from the Education Department that included Secretary Arnie Duncan (see attached photo, Baroz is on the right). I sat right next to Secretary Duncan and was able to share ideas with him directly and offer some new ideas about other initiatives. Another responsibility is helping to support current and emerging Federal initiatives to reform public education. In this context, I welcome hearing from the public, especially teachers. I correspond regularly with Education officials in Washington, D.C. and with members of the Regional Office, located in Boston.
How much of a commitment is this?
My work involves about 10-15 hours per month along with about 10 -15 days of travel in the role of fulfilling my responsibilities. I feel honored to be selected to serve as one of 16 from a pool of 800 outstanding teachers.
Why did you apply?
I applied in hopes of being able to advocate for public school teachers and schools and to gain a better understanding of how federal policy impacts public education. I view this opportunity as a way of connecting to my beliefs about teacher leadership and the need for reform to be done with teachers and not to teachers. I hope my work helps to support and improve public education.
What’s your biggest education hot button issue?
A hot button issue for me is the Blueprint for Reform, which the Obama Administration has proposed as an alternative to No Child Left Behind. Given that NCLB is a flawed law in how it judges schools and its impact on teaching and learning, I see the Blueprint as a compelling change, one that moves in the direction of creating a dramatic transformation to public education and the professionalism of teaching.
Anything else worth noting?
I especially welcome hearing from teachers and administrators or educational groups. In some cases, it may be possible for me to meet personally with teachers or visit schools. Additionally, I am open to hosting roundtable discussions with teachers, administrators or educational groups. I can be reached through my Education Department email: Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org
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