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Kanter Tells Educators They Should Lead the Effort in Determining the Future of U.S. Education

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.




(Nov. 20, 2009) -- Martha Kanter, undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Education, told a group of educators during a discussion at Morehouse that their voices must be heard in determining the future of education in this country.

"We need your voice desperately. We've had the last eight years of not hearing the voice of faculty," she said to nearly 200 people in the Bank of America Auditorium. "We're asking professors, college presidents and others to tell us what the federal government can do to have the greatest impact on student achievement and really bring American higher education to a far
greater level of impact than ever before. We really are putting out a call to the country to help redefine the role of the federal government in education because we really have not clarified that role."

Kanter was part of a discussion held during the Faculty Resource Network at New York University's Nov. 20-21 national symposium, "Challenge as Opportunity: The Academy in the Best and Worst of Times." Higher education educators and administrators from across the nation converged on the Atlanta University Center to discuss how the nation's colleges and universities navigate tough financial times.

Discussions were held on topics such as how best to make sure students are ready for college; teaching in the aftermath of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina; ways educators can use President Barack Obama's presidential campaign as a blueprint in connecting with students; and promoting diversity during budget-tightening times.

"In order to prepare students for the best possible post-college experiences, we must focus on quality teaching and learning, in spite of often scarce resources and increased workloads," said President Robert M. Franklin Jr. '75 in a video presentation to the group.

The highlight of the symposium was a panel discussion held at Morehouse and moderated by New York University journalism professor David Dent '81. Participating in the talk was Kanter, Clark Atlanta University President Carlton Brown, Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum and New York University President John Sexton.

Nearly 200 people listened as the wide-ranging talk hit on everything from global education to the intellectual capital that the schools bring to their communities.

Dent asked if it were time for historically black colleges and universities to further diversify.

"The analogy I like to use is when you talk about orchestras," said Tatum. "Clarinets, violins, horns, they all have to play together, but they don't necessarily have to rehearse together. So what's important right here, students who make the choice to be at historically black colleges, I think they are rehearsing so they can play better when they leave (HBCUs)."


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