The Aspen Institute Convenes National Summit to Discuss Public Education Reform
On September 15, 2008 in Washington, DC, the Aspen Institute convened more than 350 leaders from across the country and the political spectrum to issue “An Urgent Call” to mobilize support for dramatic reform of the U.S. public education system. The National Education Summit came at a critical time in the 2008 presidential election cycle, highlighting the growing bipartisan consensus among national, state and local leaders that effective reform requires strong accountability for results in improving the academic performance of all students. This fundamental principle must endure through the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, the most recent version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or ESEA).
The event featured a broad range of high-profile leaders including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Reverend Al Sharpton, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, United Negro College Fund president (and now commissioner with Aspen’s Commission on No Child Left Behind) Michael Lomax, Center for American Progress president and CEO John Podesta, and Sir Michael Barber, former Chief Education Advisor to U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. Other featured contributors included reform-minded school district leaders such as Joel Klein from New York City, Michelle Rhee from Washington, DC, John Deasy from Prince George’s County (MD), and Beverly Hall of Atlanta. The summit also provided an important platform for bringing new voices from multiple sectors of American life into the national education reform debate. In addition, the event attracted significant media attention, including live coverage on C-SPAN 3, major national and local publications, education trade press, and significant blogs, which helped communicate our message to a wider audience.
The National Education Summit was the first step in an ongoing effort to leverage the influence of key leaders in broadening public support for effective education reform. Following the Summit’s “call to action,” the Aspen Institute continues to reach out to key organizations and leaders from all over the country and across the political spectrum in an effort to develop more cohesion and together execute an action plan for sustained, vibrant education reform.