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~Experts To Discuss 2004 Election and Future of Education~

For immediate release:
February 27, 2004

Arlie Corday,

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- What is at stake for education as the 2004 presidential election looms? On Thursday, March 11, from 5 to 7 pm in Wellesley College's Library Lecture Room, top national education experts will examine that question in a panel discussion, "Town Hall Meeting on Education and the 2004 Presidential Elections: Letters to the Next President." Speakers include Ted Sizer, founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools.

The event, which is free and open to the public, has been organized by Wellesley first-year student Rosa Fernández, who came to campus last fall already an author. Her essay appears in a 2004 book from Columbia Teachers College Press called Letters to the Next President: What We Can Do About the Real Crisis in Public Education.

The book features a prologue by actor and comedian Bill Cosby, an epilogue by the late Senator Paul Wellstone, and includes essays from some of the best thinkers of our times. Fernández's essay, "Journey to a New Life," is the lead chapter in the book. Each panelist for the Wellesley event also contributed a chapter.

"The Education Department has helped me to organize an event at Wellesley with five national education figures," said Fernández, who will speak on the panel along with:

- Ted and Nancy Faust Sizer. In addition to founding the Coalition of Essential Schools, Ted Sizer is a university professor emeritus at Brown University and visiting professor of education at Harvard and Brandeis. He is author of Horace's Compromise: the Dilemma of the American High Schools and The Students Are Watching: Schools and the Moral Contract, co-authored with his wife, educator Nancy Faust Sizer, a member of the Wellesley College Class of 1957. The Sizers are founding trustees of the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devens, Mass.

- Leslie Hergert, a senior project director at the Education Development Center and director of the National Commission on Service-Learning.

- Pam Solo, an internationally acclaimed proponent of grass-roots activism and founder and president of the Civil Society Institute, which supports community involvement in public life.

- Louis Casagrande, president of the Children's Museum, Boston, who helped to create the award-winning Museum Magnet School.

"In the 1990s, education resurfaced as a key issue in presidential politics," said Wellesley Professor of Education Barbara Beatty, who will moderate the panel. "Like other recent presidents, George W. Bush has called himself an 'education president.' His controversial No Child Left Behind Act is the most sweeping piece of federal education legislation in almost 40 years. Education should be a big issue in the 2004 election, but will it be drowned out by concerns about terrorism and the economy? This Town Hall Meeting is an opportunity to hear some leading experts discuss their opinions and for the community to voice its views on what we think the candidates should do about education."

Corri Taylor, director of the college's Quantitative Reasoning Program, said the forum will offer suggestions for improving education. "We are fortunate to be able to bring together these leaders in education policy, individuals who are not only passionate about creating a better education system but also know the long hard steps that must be taken to make improvements," she said.

Eighteen-year-old Fernández hopes the panel will go beyond providing answers to engaging the audience in an open discussion. "We will focus on what should be an American education for all the citizens of our democracy and how an American education either promotes or inhibits democratic citizenry," she said.

The event is sponsored by Wellesley's Education Department and Quantitative Reasoning Program. For more information, call 781-283-3235.

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal-arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries.


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  • Office for Public Information
  • Date Modified: February 27, 2004
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