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Forum organizers reflect, plan spring events

Emily Schrank | Wednesday, December 7, 2011

 

 

As the first semester comes to a close, organizers of this year’s Notre Dame Forum are pleased with the events that have taken place and are preparing for a full agenda next semester, Nicole Stelle Garnett, Forum committee co-chair and law professor at Notre Dame, said.

This year’s Forum topic, “Reimagining School,” has already brought several prominent figures to campus, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

“From the very beginning, we’ve believed that the primary purpose of this year’s Forum should be to provide a space for Notre Dame as a university community … to be as imaginative as possible in forging a meaningful response to the challenges and opportunities that currently confront at risk schools and schoolchildren,” Garnett said. “We still have a whole semester to go, but I’ve been extremely gratified by what we’ve seen so far.”

The Forum kicked off on Sept. 26 with an address from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

“I think his keynote was the perfect way to launch the Forum,” Garnett said. “He’s established a legacy for aggressively pushing some fairly radical reforms despite significant opposition … It was just the right way to begin a year of ‘reimagining’ education.”

Two days later, the Forum brought four experts in education, including the founder of Teach for America, to campus for a panel discussion.

“That was a compelling event on a number of fronts,” she said. “What struck me most at the time, and what has continued to stay with me, was how it helped clarify just how important it is that we as a university continue to expand and enhance our investment in at risk schools and schoolchildren.”

Gov. Chris Christie delivered the keynote address for the symposium, “Educational Innovation and the Law” in November.

“It was interesting to hear an elected official discuss his experience with K-12 education,as well as to challenge the Notre Dame community to think critically about what it can to do make a systemic and sustainable impact in this field,” she said.

Garnett said Forum organizers have a full agenda planned for the second semester.

On Jan. 27, Terry Moe, professor of political science at Stanford University, will come to campus.

“Terry is a nationally acclaimed political scientist and author of several groundbreaking books on K-12 education,” Garnett said.

The second semester will also include keynotes from Kathleen McCartney, the dean of the Harvard School of Education, and Diane Ravitch, a well-known historian of education, she said.

Garnett said she has high expectations for the remaining Forum events.

“I’m hopeful that the events we’ve planned for the spring will provide an opportunity for some very serious conversation about where many of the ‘fault lines’ in K-12 education and education policy currently lie,” she said.”We want to foster serious conversation that can help surface some ideas on the varied roles that Notre Dame can — and must — play in service to K-12 schooling.”