St. Louis Hosts Fourth In Series Of National Public Forums On Education

St. Louis Hosts Fourth in Series of National Public Forums on Education

St. Louis, MO., October 20, 2004 – St. Louis will host the fourth in a series of national public hearings intended to set a new agenda for education. John Podesta, president & ceo of the Center for American Progress and former chief-of-staff for President Clinton, and Robert Borosage, president of the Institute for America’s Future, will host the forum scheduled for 10 a.m., Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at Harris Stowe State College in the Emerson Theater.

St. Louis will share the Missouri prospective of access to higher education by providing testimony on the unique programs that afford higher education as well as the barriers to access that still remain.  Missouri like almost every state in the nation has seen dramatic cuts in state higher education budgets and continues to struggle to find new and innovative ways to make higher education affordable for all citizens.  The hearing is titled, “Post Secondary Education: Ensuring Access for All”.

“By visiting cities such as St. Louis, we can learn how innovative approaches are working to allow easier and more affordable access to higher education,” said Podesta.  “We will take personal accounts as well as analyze hard data that will help give a better understanding about what programs are working and what programs need to be improved to ensure access to higher education by all.”

“Providing students options for college that are affordable is vital to the nation,” said Borosage.  “Families across the country are having a hard time competing with the surging costs of college tuition.”

The Chamber of Commerce recently reported that approximately five million jobs would be left unfilled at the end of the decade because students will not be adequately prepared.  Even in the face of research findings such as this, the United States struggles to rally citizens, legislators and leaders to institute real and positive public education reform, including essential investments in resources that work. However, there are “pockets” around the country where “home-grown” solutions to the education crisis are proving successful against all odds. The Center for American Progress and the Institute for America’s Future have created a task force, Renewing Our Schools, Securing Our Future, to conduct a series of public forums in select communities where some success is being achieved. The task force will document key findings in order to influence public debate and to ultimately adapt best practices in schools around the country. The series will conclude with a set of recommendations for modernizing and renewing public education – reforms essential to the nation’s future economic and civic well-being.

At the St. Louis public forum, local and national education advocates will provide insight on how state initiatives have been approached, what the challenges have been and where success is being seen. The panelists include:

• Mayor Francis Slay, City of St. Louis

• County Executive Charlie Dooley, St. Louis County

• Dudley Grove, the Secretary of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education

• Dan Peterson, Director of Financial Assistance and Outreach, Missouri Department of Higher Education

• Dr. Benjamin Ola Akande, Dean, School of Business and Technology, Webster University

Edward P. St. John, a national expert on access to higher education and Professor at Indiana University will present findings from a 50 state study of postsecondary access, commissioned by the Task Force.  At the forum, he will outline the strengths and weaknesses of the Missouri system. 

The National Task Force members attending the St. Louis forum include:

• Phillip Murphy, Task Force Co-Chair and Senior Director, the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.

• Roger Wilkins, Task Force Co-Chair and Professor, George Mason University

• John Buchanan, Former Member of Congress

• Delia Pompa, Principal, DMP Associates and former Director, Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs

• James Pughsley, Superintendent, Charolette-Mecklenburg Public Schools

• Chauncey Veatch, 2002-2003 National Teacher of the Year, Coachella Valley High School

About the Center for American Progress
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. It believes Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and
aspires to ensure national policies reflect these values. Visit the website at www.americanprogress.org.

About the Institute for America’s Future
Institute for America’s Future is a center of nonpartisan research and education. Drawing on a network of scholars, activists and leaders across the country, the Institute develops policy ideas, educational materials and outreach programs. The Institute provides a growing network of progressive writers, leaders and activists with facts, ideas, and arguments, through an active web page and e-mail network. Visit the website at www.ourfuture.org.