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Posts Tagged ‘NIFI’

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 Vice-Chancellor’s Office for Public Engagement at the University of Illinois will be hosting a Public Engagement and Technology Symposium on March 9. Since I will be in Illinois for my on-campus session with students in my online Community Engagement class, I’ve signed up to present the Texas Forums collaboration with E3 Alliance.

Just in case any of you are planning to be in Urbana-Champaign on March 9, here’s what you can expect from this gathering:

Your participation will provide faculty, staff, student, and community partners the opportunity to share innovative ideas and approaches to engagement activities in and outside the classroom.

THEMES OF THE SYMPOSIUM

Through a free flowing, open forum atmosphere, poster/resource table sessions, participant idea exchanges, 20-minute presentations and 50-minute panel discussions, participants will be engaged in the following themes:

  • Strategies in public engagement; Carnegie Community Engagement Classification Overview
  • Sustainability: Economic, Social, and Environmental
  • Dialogs with Communities
  • Learning through the Ages
  • New Ways with Technology

That “Dialogs with Communities” bullet dot is Texas Forums! Below is the description of the session I will be leading:

Texas Forums is a network of individuals and organizations that use dialogue and deliberation to tackle difficult community problems like health care and education. E3 Alliance, a regional collaborative to increase economic outcomes by aligning education systems in Central Texas worked with Texas Forums to develop community-led action plans to close the education gaps and increase economic outcomes for individuals and the region. As a research partner with the Kettering Foundation, E3 and Texas Forums adapted the National Issues Forums deliberative framework and developed a process to move people through a structured dialogue about potential strategies for closing the education gaps.

It will be a jam-packed day with over 70 sessions to choose from. HMMMM, wonder if we could do the same thing in Texas and partner with universities in Central Texas?

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We are only nine days away from the 100th celebration of the birthday of President Johnson next Wednesday, August 27. During this countdown, I have been monitoring the important events of his life as documented by the LBJ 100th Centennial Celebration. On this day in 1964, President Johnson signed the Hill-Burton Act which provided resources to build hospitals, mental health facilities, medical and dental schools and to support the education of future doctors, nurses and dentists.

As I read his comments at the signing, I am struck by how the same issues he tried to address in 1964 are still with us in 2008.

On this day in August 1964, President Johnson signed a bill extending the Hill-Burton Act.

The President said,

We have many new hospitals today in cities that are large and small. But many of our most important hospitals are too old. The hospitals which serve more than two-thirds of our population in nearly 200 metropolitan areas are obsolete, are out of date, are desperately in need of modernization. This legislation that I am signing today will help us get started on that long overdue job. …

The Hill-Burton hospital construction program has been extended another 5 years, but Congress has also provided assistance for constructing mental health facilities, mental retardation facilities, the medical and dental schools that we need.

And Congress has helped to meet our health manpower needs by a program to overcome our critical shortage of nurses, a program to train more graduate public health personnel, and by providing assistance to students attending medical and dental and nursing schools.

We are supporting, as no nation on earth has ever supported, the strength of our medical profession. We are supporting them with modern facilities, with more and better trained manpower, and productive research in more and more fields. I believe that we are pursuing a sensible and yet a most responsible course.

Texas Forums will host forums on The Cost of Health Care on October 7, 2008 at the LBJ Library Atrium on the 10th floor from 6:00 – 8:30. We will be using the National Issues Forums discussion guide, Coping with the Cost of Health Care: How Do We Pay for What We Need? From 6:00 – 6:30 our partners will be on hand with information about health care in Texas. So far, we are partnering with the following organizations and our list is growing:

Our colleagues at the University of Houston Downtown Center for Public Deliberation will be holding forums on this same issue on September 18, 2008 giving us a glimpse into how Texans in two different communities are thinking about the cost of health care and possible remedies that they would be willing to support. This will provide talking points that our partners can use to inform the Texas Legislature about the concerns of Texans who come together to deliberate this critical issue.

On the national front, dozens of Public Policy Institutes in the National Issues Forums network and all twelve Presidential Libraries will also be hosting forums on Coping with the Cost of Health Care. The results of these forums will be reported in a national report commissioned by the Kettering Foundation and prepared by Public Agenda.

If you would like more information about these upcoming forums or about partnering with us to encourage public forums on this critical issue, contact Taylor L. Willingham at taylor [at] austin-pacific. [dot] com or leave a comment here.

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On Sunday June 29, I will be traveling to Dayton, OH for a meeting with representatives of all 12 Presidential Libraries. We will be planning a series of National Issues Forums to take place in each of our libraries prior to the November election. Texas Forums will be hosting forums on Health Care at the LBJ Library on September 17 from 6-8 p.m.

Below is the press release for this upcoming meeting.

pres logo

nifi

From: Bob Daley, Diane Eisenberg, Mary Kring


Some 30 Representatives of the nation’s Presidential Libraries and the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) will gather in Dayton, Ohio, June 30-July 1 for a workshop designed to prepare for a series of forums in all 12 Presidential Libraries between Labor Day and Election Day this fall.

The workshop will introduce representatives of the Presidential Libraries to the philosophy of public deliberation and plans developed by the libraries’ representatives and NIF coordinators for the fall forums will be shared.

During the run-up to the presidential election, each of the Presidential Libraries will host a series of three forums with some Libraries hosting additional forums. Forums will be on a range of topics including health care, immigration, federal debt, education and energy.

All forums are free and open to the public.

“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 discussions about major public policy issues in the midst of a presidential campaign.”

“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.”

The Presidential Libraries of the National Archives are not libraries in the usual sense. They are archives and museums, bringing together in one place the documents and artifacts of a President and his administration and presenting them to the public for study and discussion without regard for political considerations or affiliations. Presidential Libraries and Museums, like their holdings, belong to the American people. They promote understanding of the presidency and the American experience, preserving and providing access to historical materials, support research, and create interactive programs and exhibits that educate and inspire.

NIFI is a 25-year-old nonpartisan, nationwide network of locally sponsored forums for the consideration of public policy issues. Forums are rooted in the simple notion that citizens need to come together to reason and talk -to deliberate about common problems.

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Patty won’t be in the room with us at the LBJ Library, but she’s a dear friend who’s very thoughtful so I’ve invited her to be a guest blogger with us for the Tavis Smiley event tonight.

Patty Dineen

Patty Dineen has been convening and moderating National Issues Forums (NIF) in Pennsylvania and other states since 1994.  She is one of the instructors for a deliberative democracy workshop held each summer by the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  She has assisted with issue framing and large deliberative forum projects including the Philadelphia Inquirers Citizen Voices projects, the Philadelphia Education Summit, Common Ground in Akron Ohio, and Global Connections-Pittsburgh forums. She has written two issue books for the American Bar Association; about public trust and the American justice system, and about the jury system.  Patty does freelance writing and is the contributing editor for the National Issues Forums News (online)

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