Spotlight

Applying for Overseas Education Missions

Does the notion of studying educational systems abroad intrigue you?

The two most common routes for K-12 school leaders run through the Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange program and the International Seminar for Schooling, co-sponsored by AASA and the University of Texas.

International Seminar for Schooling
These trips take place each fall with Nolan Estes, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, responsible for creating the itineraries. The joint effort of AASA and the university started nearly a decade ago when separately run programs were consolidated.

ISS trips are typically funded in three ways. Most commonly, administrators finance their own trip. Some school leaders receive school board funding. State association executives may obtain funding from their organizations. Costs range from $4,000 to $5,000 per participant, and the trips operate with between 20 and 40 participants.

In November, the ISS trip took participating administrators to Spain, with an advanced study institute taking place in Morocco. The tentative plan for 2004 is to visit South America--probably Argentina and Brazil--and Antarctica. The latter is the only continent not covered by a previous trip.

Each trip features a seminar component where participants reflect on what they’re learning. Participants hear presentations about a country’s educational system and culture with tours of schools and the country’s ministry of education.

Those interested in an ISS trip should contact Sherri Montgomery at AASA (smontgomery@aasa.org; 703-875-0722).

Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, this program provides travel stipends for administrators’ overseas trips, but has several pre-requisites that most public school leaders would easily satisfy. This includes the requirement that the applicant be in at least his or her third year of administrative work.

Named for the late Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the educator exchanges were established by Congress in 1946 as a vehicle for public officials to observe and comprehend institutions, cultures and societies of other peoples. Fulbright participants usually lodge in a home, hosted by a local educator.

The application process is competitive. Roberta Croll, outreach specialist for the Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange, says administrators have a one-in-three chance of being selected.

Fulbright options include:

  • The Superintendent Seminar in Germany, which is offered every other year (including 2004) for superintendents and assistant superintendents who offer German language studies in their school district. Anyone interested can be placed on a mailing list by contacting Croll at fulbright@grad.usda.gov or at 202-314-3527.

  • The Argentina Administrator Program, in which participants each year shadow an administrator counterpart for three to six weeks. The Argentine administrator visits the United States for a comparable experience.

  • Other administrator exchanges offered annually send U.S. school leaders for six weeks to Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Mexico, Romania, Slovak Republic, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

  • Hosting programs in which school districts or schools host administrators from Oman, Jordan or Uruguay for six weeks as they study the U.S. school system.

The deadline for applications to most Fulbright programs is Oct. 15. Occasionally special programs are arranged on short notice with varying deadlines. Access www.fulbrightexchanges.org and click on “other opportunities.”