Education Summit Opens in New York


Undeterred by the recent terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC, more than 30 governors, education leaders and heads of big corporations meet today (Tuesday Oct. 9) in New York's Hudson River Valley to brainstorm about education. Top agenda items include raising student performance, testing as well as public perceptions of education reforms.

"Many people thought we wouldn't have the summit, but we thought it was important and the governors and CEOs thought it was important to say that we aren't going to put aside important goals in this country while we are fighting terrorism. Education is an important domestic priority and we have to stay focused on that priority," said Matthew Gandal, Vice President of Achieve Inc. (, an organization made up of governors and business leaders that grew out of the 1996 summit.

The 2001 National Education Summit, the fourth since 1989, is sponsored by Achieve, which provides assistance to states to foster cross-state collaboration on curriculum, testing and accountability issues.

Michigan Gov. John Engler and IBM Chairman Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. co-chair Achieve, Inc., and are hosting the two day conference at IBM's Center in Palisades, NY.

Although it isn't on the agenda, it's likely that the federal education bill, which makes new demands on how states run schools, will be a topic of discussion.

"The issues the summit is focused on are the same issues Congress is working on: testing, accountability, teacher quality and capacity all in the name of raising the bar and closing the achievement gap," Gandal said.

US News and World Report's Editor-At-Large David Gergen will moderate a town hall style meeting focused on how far states have come in reforming their systems as well as what challenges lie ahead, according to Joe Garcia, a spokesman for Achieve.

Participants will discuss the appropriate role for the state government to play in education. How can the state intervene in failing schools without upsetting local control and how can they find enough qualified teachers to fill the every growing classrooms? "What do we need to do and what do we need to change? How do we need to invest to make sure our goals are reached?" Gandal said.

The last Education Summit ended with the attending governors committing to improve educator quality, help students achieve high standards and strengthen accountability measures. And the 1996 summit "lit the fuse" for the standards movement, according to Gergen.

"Up until 1987, people were still arguing whether standards were a good thing. That discussion is over, now we are discussing how do you make the idea successful," Gergen told in 1999.

At least 21 companies will be demonstrating new education technologies at the Summit. This conference, as those in the past, will end with governors, education and business leaders committing to work on a set of proposals to move school reforms forward. "In 24 hours we can't solve all the problems in education but we can bring people together from across the country who are working on a common agenda, to share ideas and unite around a core set of principles and make a statement about moving forward on a challenging agenda,"Gandal said.


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