For First Time, Educators Play Prominent Role At National Summit

The guest list was a notable aspect of the third National Education Summit. It marked the first time that educators were invited to participate. Governor Tommy G. Thompson emphasized the importance of this partnership and the need for everyone to be involved to achieve success.

The governors invited around 20 chief state school officers and a few other state education officials to the event. In addition, 26 other education leaders, including Benjamin Canada and Tom Mooney, were present at the summit upon the invitation of co-sponsoring groups. Furthermore, approximately a dozen educators served as resource persons for the breakout sessions during the summit.

Prior to the event, educators collaboratively worked on drafts of the summit’s "action statement." This document underwent review and revisions by a steering committee representing all the organizations involved in sponsoring the summit, such as the Council of the Great City Schools and the Learning First Alliance. The latter group encompasses twelve of the largest education groups in the country, including national teachers’ unions. Judy Wurtzel, the executive director of the alliance, highlighted the commitment of individuals to substantive issues, which she believes was fostered through participation in the give-and-take process. She further mentioned the unity among people in different organizations and the substantial work achieved.

The cooperative spirit among education groups, educators, governors, and business leaders was noticeably absent in previous summits. Educators were previously concerned about not being fully involved in the process. Susan Traiman, the director of the Business Roundtable’s education initiative, expressed that the education community is now united compared to previous years, with agreement on key areas for improvement. Tom Mooney, president of the American Federation of Teachers affiliate in Cincinnati, was initially skeptical but came away from the summit encouraged by the growing consensus that standards should serve as the foundation for improvement. The involvement and support of teachers and educators are crucial to translating these standards into classroom practice and helping students meet them. Sandra Feldman, president of the AFT, highlighted the importance of providing organized support for teachers and ensuring that students receive the necessary resources, rather than leaving them to sink or swim.

The extent to which this spirit of cooperation will endure beyond the summit remains to be seen. The challenge lies in effectively conveying the ideas articulated in the action statement to the respective members of the education leaders gathered at the event. Don Cameron, executive director of the National Education Association, expressed hope that the interaction between the three entities (educators, governors, and business leaders) will expand and deepen to achieve tangible outcomes. Instead of relying solely on rhetoric, there is a collective effort to open minds and explore new possibilities. Even those who were skeptics in the past appeared to be heartened by the progress made during the summit. Michael D. Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, acknowledged the substantial discussion and commended the governors and business leaders for their progress since the previous summit.

It is worth noting that the attendees at the summit did not include some of the more vocal critics of the standards movement.


  • rosewebb

    Rose Webb is an educational blogger and volunteer who also studies for a degree in law. She loves to write about her experiences and share her knowledge with others, and is passionate about helping others to achieve their goals.

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