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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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On October 7, Texas Forums hosted a forum, Coping with the Cost of Health Care using the National Issues Forums discussion guide in partnership with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Christian Life Commission, Texas Impact , and Texas Health Institute. Students in the Fielding Graduate University Certification in Dialogue, Deliberation and Community Engagement served as our moderators. As a result of our forum, we have been invited to work with the Critical Condition collaborative that is working to raise awareness of the growing health care crisis documented in Critical Condition by filmmaker Roger Weisberg.

KLRU will be hosting a panel presentation on November 17 from 7:30 – 9:00 that will kick off ongoing community conversations. Details below.

Monday, November 17, 2008

7:30-9 p.m. (doors open at 7)
KLRU-TV, corner of Guadalupe St. and Dean Keeton
(RSVP to rsvp@sdchf.org by Tuesday, November 11)

Texas has the highest rate of people without health insurance in the country. The Census Bureau shows that 1 in 4 Texans are uninsured, with 265,859 of those people living in Central Texas. Those numbers do not include Texans who are underinsured with inadequate coverage.

The issue is critical and urgent. Sixteen Central Texas organizations have joined forces in the collaboration Critical Condition: Central Texas to create and sustain a strategic planning and action-oriented community conversation on what health care we have, what health care we need, and what it will take to achieve it.

On Monday, November 17th, this conversation will begin with a 90-minute panel at KLRU studios. We invite you to be a member of the audience, which will be filled with key individuals from throughout the region who have a real stake in ensuring that our families, neighbors, and employees can get the health care they need. These key individuals include representatives from small and large businesses, government (including elected officials), education, health care providers, health care consumers, social services, insurance, and the faith community; all segments of the community with a stake in understanding the connection between access to health care and the overall health of the region in the broadest sense. Your presence is needed to enhance the dialogue and build a platform for sustainable solutions.

In the months after the forum, the conversation will continue on a larger scale, as we provide opportunities for additional public input through surveys, interviews, and discussion groups. We hope you remain engaged in the process, engage others in the areas where you are most connected, and bring others to the conversation as we press for viable answers. The issue is pressing and the questions complex, but Central Texas cannot wait for others to address this crisis. Please join us as we tackle this critical condition.

Your RSVP is required as there are only 300 seats available, and we intend to fill every one. Please send a response to rsvp@sdchf.org by Tuesday, November 11.

Critical Condition: Central Texas partner organizations are the American Cancer Society, Austin/Travis County Community Health Centers, Austin Travis County MHMR Center, Center for Public Policy Priorities, Integrated Care Collaboration, insure-a-kid, Lone Star Circle of Care, People’s Community Clinic, Seton Family of Hospitals, St. David’s Community Health Foundation, Texans Care for Children, and the Travis County Healthcare District and the University of Texas Medical Branch-Austin.

More information about the local collaboration and the PBS documentary “Critical Condition” can be found at www.klru.org/criticalcondition. Questions regarding this event may be directed to a collaboration member or to Kristy Ozmun of Kristy Ozmun Public Relations, kristy@ozmun.com or (512) 474-1501.

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Coping with Health Care

On October 7, Texas Forums will hold forums on Coping with the Cost of Health Care using the National Issues Forums discussion guide. The event will take place on the 10th floor of the LBJ Presidential Library, 2313 Red River St. Registration, refreshments, and resources will be available at 5:30 and the forum will take place from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

The LBJ Library is joining with all 12 Presidential Libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration to hold forums on health care and other topics between Labor Day and the November Election.

We are pleased to be joined by some outstanding local partners in this venture who will be on hand to provide information about the state of health care in the state of Texas. Our partners include: the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Christian Life Commission, Texas Impact , and Texas Health Institute. Students in the Fielding Graduate University Certification in Dialogue, Deliberation and Community Engagement will serve as our moderators.

“Hosting National Issues Forums at the Presidential Libraries is consistent with our emphasis on civic education,” Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, said.  “Presidential Libraries are public places and it is appropriate for citizens to engage in intense discussions of major public policy issues in the midst of a presidential campaign.  However, the goal should be hosting discussions which are balanced, civil in tone and fair-minded.”

“Participants in a forum,” NIFI Chairman William Winter, said, “deliberate with one another, eye-to-eye, face to-face, exploring options, weighing others’ views, considering the costs and consequences of public policy decisions.  In a democracy, citizens have a responsibility to make choices about how to solve problems and forums help enrich participants’ thinking on public issues.  By offering citizens a framework for deliberative forums, NIFI helps the public take an active role in acting on public issues.”

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