On Thursday evening, December 8, 2011, the National Forum joined the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan for the third in a three part series examining public education. The focus of the third panel was public education for the higher good.
The distinguished eight-member panel was moderated by Dr. John Burkhardt, director of the National Forum. Attendees numbered nearly 100 at the Alumni Center in Ann Arbor, and several hundred online.
The panel begin with an introduction by Deborah Ball, dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan. Dean Ball recapped the previous two sessions and then provided some framing remarks for this third, and final, session on public education for the public good. After several panelists gave additional opening remarks, Dr. Burkhardt invited questions from those present, and from those attending online.
The participants asked challenging, and sometimes vexing, questions to which the panelists responded from a variety of perspectives. A number of the questions and comments looked at the way is public higher education is open to, or averse to, innovation. Panelist Adriana Rasche Phelan highlighted the challenges presented by the disruptive innovation of online education. She noted that online courses have greatly increased in recent years, which demands that educators and policy makers work to understand this new medium. Hubert Rast spoke about the challenges teachers face in putting new educational policies into effect. Dean Ball highlighted not only the central place of public education in creating citizens for US democracy, while also noting the difficulty faced by those who seek to create innovations at various levels of public education.
As with the previous two panels, participants left the evening hungry for more, with numerous questions remaining about how best to provide education for our citizens. However, there was also a general feeling of satisfaction that the panel had addressed a wide variety of topics and had raised numerous considerations to enrich future discussions.
The National Forum is thankful to CSHPE doctoral student and Forum research assistant Joanna Frye for her role as organizer, and to the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan for the opportunity to assist with the event. We look forward to future collaborations with the Alumni Association, as we work together to further the public good mission of higher education.
Deborah Loewenberg Ball, Dean of the University of Michigan School of Education, where she is also the William H. Payne Collegiate Professor and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor.
Cynthia H. Wilbanks, Vice President for Government Relations at the University of Michigan.
William (Nick) Collins, Executive Director of the Center for Educational Outreach at the University of Michigan.
Adriana Rasche Phelan, Vice President for Public Policy at the Michigan Community College Association
Janet Lawrence, Associate Professor of Higher Education at the University of Michigan.
Hubert Rast, foreign language and history teacher at Northville High School and lecturer in the Department of German at the University of Michigan
Joseph Serwach, Managing Director, Communications for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.