By Lee Posey

I recently had the opportunity to journey to the National Geographic Society’s headquarters, home of Explorers Hall, to make a presentation. That may seem a surprising place to find one of NCSL’s federal affairs staff, but there’s an explanation.

Photo of the National Geographic SocietyYou may know that the National Geographic Society (NGS) is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world.  You might also be aware that its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical conservation, and the study of world culture and history.

You might not know, however, about NGS’s work with the Network of Alliances for Geographic Education, a group of educators united to support geographic literacy. Alliances are partnerships between university faculty and K-12 educators. These state-based organizations connect educators, provide world-class professional development for classroom teachers, and promote educational innovation at the state, district and local levels. Since 1986, NGS and the Alliance Network have worked to catalyze “geo-education” reform across the United States, District of Columbia, Canada and Puerto Rico. National Geographic has adopted the term “geo-education” and defines it as providing young people with a fundamental understanding of how the human and natural worlds work at local, regional, and global scales.

I was presenting at the Network of Alliance’s policy workshop, part of its 2014 Annual Meeting.  I’d been invited to be their guide to the features of state legislatures, give them an overview of the state education policy landscape, and reflect on how federal action or inaction alters that landscape.  This group was particularly interested in Common Core State Standards implementation and in teacher preparation issues. The latter conversation was greatly enriched by the mix of college faculty and classroom teachers in the room. 

It was a pleasure to interact with professionals so excited about the subject they teach, and so intrigued by exploring broader questions of education policy.  And except for the mismatch between the podium height and my height, there were no daunting obstacles encountered along the way.

Lee Posey is a NCSL senior committee director for NCSL’s State-Federal Relations program.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.


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