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The Roundtable: Introduction

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Education Week has conducted a number of roundtables over the years. But none has attempted to tackle so ambitious a topic as our most recent.

Last month, we convened 11 of the nation's leading education reformers to spend a day considering new directions for the school-reform movement. Our hope was that we could begin to rough out an action plan or implementation strategy for the next phase of school reform.

Easier said than done.

While the participants agreed in principle that America's schools must be changed in substantial ways and that incremental change will not suffice, they diverged on the specifics of how best to accomplish that transformation.

Echoing the opinions expressed in the preceding story, some thought a stronger national, or at least state, role is needed; others were more inclined to stake the future on the diversity of locally initiated change.

Following is an edited transcript of the Education Week roundtable on school-reform strategies for change. It is divided into eight sections that reflect key points of discussion.

In addition to highlighting some of the most important developments in the school-reform movement, the transcript has been organized to focus on key roles to be played at the federal, district, and school levels. Because the role and responsibility of states wove throughout this conversation, we did not attempt to isolate it as a separate topic.

At stake, of course, is the next generation of students and schools. Gov. Roy Romer, one of our roundtable participants, summed it up when he said: "We need a national movement that says, 'If we don't do this one right, and if we don't do it quickly, we're in real trouble.'''

Following are the participants in Education Week's roundtable discussion:

SAMUEL R. BILLUPS is an assistant professor of education at Delaware State College and the state's coordinator for Re:Learning, a joint effort of the Education Commission of the States and the Coalition of Essential Schools. He was formerly the principal of Walbrook High School in Baltimore, a charter member of the coalition.

CHRISTOPHER T. CROSS is the executive director of the education initiative for the Business Roundtable and was the assistant U.S. secretary of education for educational research and improvement in the Bush Administration.

MICHELLE FINE is a professor of psychology at the graduate center of the City University of New York and a senior consultant to the Philadelphia Schools Collaborative, a project to redesign that city's comprehensive high schools.

SUSAN H. FUHRMAN is a professor of educational theory, policy, and administration at Rutgers University and the director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, a federally funded research center. She is the editor of Designing Coherent Education Policy, a new book on systemic reform in education.

PATRICIA ALBJERG GRAHAM is the president of the Spencer Foundation and a professor of the history of American education and a former dean at the Harvard University graduate school of education.

KATI HAYCOCK is the director of the school/college trust at the American Association for Higher Education and was a member of the Commission on Chapter 1.

DAVID W. HORNBECK is the co-director of the National Alliance for Restructuring Education, a joint effort involving five states and four school districts, and a senior adviser to the Business Roundtable. He was also a key architect of the Kentucky Education Reform Act and the chairman of the Commission on Chapter 1, and was for 12 years the state superintendent of education in Maryland.

RICHARD P. MILLS is the commissioner of education in Vermont and the chairman of the coordinating council for the National Alliance for Restructuring Education.

ROBERT S. PETERKIN is the director of the Urban Superintendents' Program at the Harvard University graduate school of education and a former superintendent of schools in Milwaukee and Cambridge, Mass.

GOV. ROY ROMER of Colorado is the chairman of the National Governors' Association and a member and a former chairman of the National Education Goals Panel. He served as a co-chairman of the National Council on Education Standards and Testing.

ROBERT F. SEXTON is the executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, a citizens' advocacy organization dedicated to improving Kentucky's schools.

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