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Date: November 14
Time: 9:00 – noon
Place: LBJ Presidential Library (meet in the lobby)
Topic: What is the 21st Century Mission for Our Public Schools?

The nation has long prided itself on a public school system that successfully educates its children to be productive citizens of a flourishing democracy. And, by many measures, that continues to be the case. But there is increasing evidence that U.S. schools have failed to keep pace in a rapidly changing world.

Public education for all children is a foundation stone of this nation’s success. But changing times bring changing challenges. We can agree that children should learn basic skills, but what else do they need? What central purpose do we want our schools to serve today?

In our forum on November 14 at the LBJ library from 9-noon, we will explore three different perspectives on the mission of public schools.

Approach one:  Prepare Students to be Successful in the Workplace

There are alarming signs that the United States is losing its competitive edge in a burgeoning global economy.  If we are to continue to prosper as a nation, the guiding purpose of our public schools must be to prepare students for an increasingly complex workplace.

 

Approach two: Prepare Students to be Active and Responsible Citizens

Public schools were founded to foster the skills and behaviors citizens need to govern themselves and contribute to the public good.  A 40-year decline in civic education has taken its toll on the citizen participation our democracy depends on.  Instilling civic values is the most important contribution public schools make to society.

 

Approach three: Help Students Discover and Develop their Talents

A one-size-fits-all model does not serve our children or our society.  The mission of public schools should be to help each child make the most of his or her abilities and inclinations.  Schools must be able to respond to the variety of ways children learn.

At the core are these three questions:

  • Should schools focus on preparing students to be successful in the workplace?
  • Is the purpose of public schools to prepare students to be active and responsible citizens?
  • Should we invest more of our energy in helping each student make the most of his or her abilities?

Together we will consider the advantages of each approach as well as any costs or consequences. The results of our forum will be reported to the Kettering Foundation, a public policy research organization that reports on the public forums conducted by organizations like Texas Forums.

 

This forum, a project of the LBJ Presidential Library was one of dozens of forums being held by all twelve presidential libraries across the country, and made possible with funding from the National Archives and Records Administration and the National Issues Forums.

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The phrase “the elephant in the room” is often used to bring a group’s attention to the fact that a large problem exists that everybody in the group is ignoring. Tonight, it will be hard to not pay attention to the elephant that is not in the room (pun intended). How can Romney, Giuliani, Thompson and McCain justify not attending this forum? How can anyone take them seriously as potential presidents? What does it say about the GOP?

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