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University to host educational forum

Emily Schrank | Friday, September 16, 2011

Through the Notre Dame Forum starting on Sept. 26, the Notre Dame community will engage in what Nicole Stelle Garnett said is the most important social justice issue of the day.

“We’re at a truly critical moment in American education,” Forum Committee co-chair and professor of law Garnett said. “We have the capacity to affect meaningful improvements in the way we educate children, and we are not realizing that capacity.”

Garnett said the title of this year’s Forum – “Reimagining School” – is a reference to the collective imagination.

“That is really the most important asset we can harness in this year-long conversation,” she said.

The Forum will kick off with an interactive address led by Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.

“During his time as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush oversaw a comprehensive set of education reforms that some people have referred to as the ‘Florida cocktail,'” Garnett said. “Rather than try and identify a single intervention that works for everyone before implementing it, he decided to try a bunch at the same time.”

Garnett said the results of Bush’s strategy are compelling and will maintain the audience’s attention.

“I’m confident that he will engage the audience in a great conversation about how Notre Dame can and must play a role in the education reform movement,” she said.

Garnett said the Forum will continue Sept. 28 with a panel event.

“We’ve brought together Juan Rangel from the UNO [United Neighborhood Organization] charter school network, Bishop Gerry Kicanas from the Diocese of Tucson, Randi Weingarten from the American Federation of Teachers and Wendy Kopp from Teach for America for a conversation on the future of the education reform movement,” Garnett said. “This is an unprecedented conversation — on several different levels — and I think we will benefit greatly from joining in the dialogue.”

The Notre Dame Law School will host New Jersey governor Chris Christie on Nov. 18, Garnett said. Christie is scheduled to deliver a lecture on educational innovation and the law.

 

“Governor Christie’s aggressive take on education reform has received significant attention lately, and it should be interesting to hear where he thinks this work is headed,” she said.

Garnett said this year’s Forum represents Notre Dame’s ambition to be a place where “learning becomes service to justice.”

“Education is an issue for which we all can roll up our sleeves and contribute. Every member of the community has a role,” she said. “We want as broad and vibrant a conversation as possible.”