TU hosts national panel on public education

By Rebecca Kirkman on September 24, 2019

At PDK Poll panel, students and faculty engage with leaders in education, including 2019 National Teacher of the Year

Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson speaks during PDK Panel at Towson University
Rodney Robinson, 2019 National Teacher of the Year, speaks as part of a panel discussing the PDK Poll results at Towson University.

On Tuesday, Towson University hosted a panel of national leaders in education for a discussion about the 51st annual PDK Poll on the Public’s Attitudes Toward Public Schools.

The panel included 2019 National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson, Thomas B. Fordham Institute Senior Fellow Robert Pondiscio, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education CEO Lynn Gangone and middle school educator, journalist and thought leader Phyllis L. Fagell.

At the event attended by students, alumni, faculty and education industry professionals, the panelists reacted to the results of the PDK Poll and answered questions about the state of public education today.

It was the first time in the poll’s 51 year history that the panel was held at a higher education institution. “We are very proud, as one of the thought leaders in the state, to be asked to host this conversation,” says College of Education Dean Laurie Mullen.

Moving the event to Towson University was an effort to reach a new audience. “We are trying something new this year,” says Joshua Starr, panel moderator and CEO of PDK International. “I think we need to do more to get out to the people doing the real work, and to the people who prepare the people doing the real work. Towson has become a really great partner of ours, especially through the Educators Rising program.”

After the panel, about 35 students stayed for a more intimate discussion with Robinson, where he shared resources for teachers to build relationships with parents, empower their students, and communicate with their school administrators and policy-makers. 

Ivy Lynch, a senior elementary education and special education major, valued the opportunity to engage with and learn from the teacher of the year. “I feel like I got the most from Rodney, because he’s an active teacher in the field,” says Lynch, who recently joined the Educators Rising program at TU. Attending these types of events “lets us grow and learn more outside of the classroom.”

Lynch attended the event as part of her Methods of Classroom Management and Collaboration class, taught by special education professor Debi Gartland

“I think they got so much out of it,” says Gartland, who includes the PDK Poll results in her curriculum each year. “The panel was great. Some of it was stark reality. But I was proud to hear [our students] ask very insightful questions at a high level.”

Robinson was also impressed by the students in the audience. “I love talking with college students. They give me hope,” he says. “They get the importance of having culturally relevant education for all students. Once they come into the profession, it’s going to bring a wave of what our students need.”

He left a message for aspiring teachers: “It’s one of the most difficult jobs, but it’s also the most rewarding job you will ever have in your entire life.”

View the full panel discussion:

2019 PDK Poll Discussion

Join PDK (Phi Delta Kappa International) for a discussion about the 51st annual PDK Poll on the Public's Attitudes Towards Public Schools and the implications for current and future educators nationwide. This year's panel will feature National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson.

Posted by Towsoncoeducation on Tuesday, September 24, 2019

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.