Exploring education from all angles MIT News

As a tenth grade student, David Spicer started a petition to create more advanced placement classes at his high school. He knew of another high school in the area offering a dozen more, and he couldn’t see why there was a disparity. After receiving three hundred signatures from his fellow students, he presented it to the principal of his school, then circulated to the school superintendent.

In retrospect, says Spicer, “I’m certainly a bit of an annoying senior scholar, but experience has taught me how important it is not only to be an advocate for the issues you care about, but also for the issues that are happening around you.” It was also his first exposure to the complexity of education policy and management, a subject that has remained his passion ever since.

Now a senior studying political science and president of the MIT Undergraduate Association (UA), Spicer continued to explore education from all angles. “Education is one of those things that everyone experiences,” he said. “And those experiences inform how you think about things in education.”

Thinking about these questions goes beyond the classroom, where Spicer balanced theory and practice while taking classes on education policy, research and leadership at MIT and Harvard University. He has also worked at multiple levels of education, including teaching in K-12 classrooms with the US Department of Education.

Spycer’s feelings about education and education policy dove with involvement in the UA. Starting as a member, then chairing the Community and Diversity Committee for two years and now serving as president, he often found himself face-to-face with different stakeholders—university administrators, faculty, members of the Cambridge community—with his role. his fellow lawyers.

“The biggest, most pressing issues of student life, whether it’s around mental health, diversity, equity, and inclusion, or public service, I’ve always been involved in the biggest things,” Spicer said. He praises UA as “one of the most enjoyable aspects of my MIT journey so far,” as well as instrumental in sharpening his own advocacy skills.

Cambridge to LA

This semester, Spicer intends to spearhead the UA Leadership Forum, intending to introduce UA leaders and chairs to conversations with politicians, state, and federal politicians. The series aims to provide opportunities for professional development and to “pop the MIT boss” by getting student leaders thinking about how problems can be solved more broadly, not just on the MIT campus.

Spica took many chances to “pop the bubble” too. The UA president said he will be speaking on a panel of students at the Ronald Reagan Institute about topics such as freedom of speech, digital citizenship, and pandemic learning. He also spoke with producers and directors in Los Angeles to help them more accurately represent the student experience in movies and shows.

“I’m really glad that the UA president has given me a place to raise conversations that only concern students at the local level,” says Spicer. “I’m in a position to bring this to national attention and bring it to commuters who take what I’m saying and incorporate it.

Cultivating community

Spicer had grown up in a small town in south Louisiana — “the kind of town where you know everybody” — but when it came time to go to college, he “wanted a 180 from the city.” MIT certainly fulfilled that desire, and part of the tight political science also contributed to that decision: “I knew I wanted to do social science, and I like to have that little sense of community while it’s still in practice. a great school and lived in a great city.

Giving back to the community is important to Spicer. For the past five semesters, he has been an assistant teacher at Concussion, a first-year learning community that emphasizes the study of the humanities alongside the sciences.

When asked what his plans are post-graduation, Spicer says he wants to return to Louisiana to work for the Board of Regents, which oversees the state of higher education. He had already worked under Louisiana Commissioner of Education Kim Hunter Reed and understood how he not only got a chance in the state with his administration, but also in other states.

“There is a real emphasis on building relationships in higher education.

Looking further into the future, Spicer hopes to attend law school and obtain a PhD in educational leadership.

“Law education and education system are distinct, but these conversations with each other are really amazing and incredible. For a state like Louisiana, I think it’s really critical to be able to bring legal education and policy into the conversation.”

A personal goal for this senior year, Spicer focuses on cultivating the friendships and communities he has formed over the years at MIT.

“I just want to make sure that when I graduate, I leave very happy and have these contacts with so many wonderful people that I have met.”


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