Carnegie Creates Forum To Help Shape U.S. Education Policies

By Cindy Currence — January 30, 1985 5 min read

In an effort to “keep the nation’s attention focused on educational improvement,” the president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York this week announced the creation of a multi-million-dollar initiative designed to help chart U.S. education policy during the next 10 years.

The initiative establishes the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy--a group of educators, policymakers, scientists, and business leaders who will study educational issues and their relationship to the U.S. economy.

A ‘Major Activity’

Calling the forum a “major activity,” Carnegie Corporation officials announced on Jan. 28 that $600,000 has been committed to fund the forum in its first year of operation. The officials said they anticipated that the forum would be active for 10 years.

The Carnegie Corporation, the philanthropic foundation created by the industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1911 “for the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding,” has long been associated with support for education at all levels. In 1983, the foundation awarded $20 million in grants to 21 schools, colleges, and universities and 57 other organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Children’s Foundation, and the Education Commission of the States.

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“The basic goal of the forum is to improve the chances that all Americans are educated in a way that helps them participate effectively in the economy,” said David A. Hamburg, president of the Carnegie Corporation.

Dr. Hamburg will act as chairman of the forum and Marc Tucker, a former associate director of the National Institute of Education, will serve as executive director. Mr. Tucker, who will direct the forum’s four-member staff in Washington, D.C., has recently completed work on a project, funded by the Carnegie Corporation, analyzing the potential and problems involved in the use of new information technologies in education.

The forum will provide in the 1980’s the kind of policy framework the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed for education in the 1960’s and 1970’s, according to Mr. Tucker. That commission, headed by Clark Kerr, the former University of California president, between 1967 and 1979 produced a series of book-length studies of higher education that constituted the most intensive look yet taken at academe; its findings were influential both in campus policymaking and in the formulation of federal-aid policies in postsecondary education.

Forum Activities

Each year, the new policy forum will sponsor an invitational meeting of 100 prominent Americans from business, labor, education, and the scientific community to consider the issues and options linking educational policy with the country’s future economic needs.

Between the annual meetings, the forum will monitor the nation’s progress in education, convene workshops, conduct analytical studies, and issue reports.

According to Dr. Hamburg, the forum will build upon recent efforts at the national, state, and local levels to upgrade educational quality.

“Most of the recent reports have, with good reason, linked education to the changing economy,” Dr. Ham-burg said, adding that the ability of the advanced industrial countries to compete effectively in the new world economy has increasingly depended on a skilled workforce.

“The nation requires people who think for a living,” he said.

Issues To Be Addressed

According to Dr. Hamburg, the forum will consider:

What changes in education may be needed to meet the challenges facing the nation in international economic competition;

The degree to which the education provided women and racial and ethnic minorities enables them to participate equally in the economic rewards of society;

How to improve the intellectual skills and accomplishments of all elementary- and secondary-school students while also improving the efficiency with which these students are educated;

Whether the national economy will require skill levels in the general population higher, lower, or about the same as those needed now, and determine what “basic skills” will be needed by everyone;

How national science policy affects education and the economy and whether recent initiatives to improve education in mathematics, science, engineering, and other technology-related subjects are likely to meet the country’s needs;

The needs of unemployed teen-agers, displaced workers, people in dead-end jobs, and the millions of illiterate adults who lack the skills required for effective participation in the economy;

How to prepare young adults and people now in the workforce to function well in a work environment increasingly characterized by shifting tasks, a rapidly changing knowledge base, and teamwork;

What policies could help colleges and universities contribute more effectively to the broad process of technological innovation and economic development without sacrificing other important educational goals.

“The ultimate test for the forum,” said Dr. Hamburg, “will be its usefulness as a vehicle for involving many people in the construction and imple-mentation of a compelling vision of American education, a vision faithful to our democratic ideals and convincing as a means for advancing our economy and general well-being.”

Advisory Council

Dr. Hamburg will chair the forum with the assistance of the forum’s Advisory Council. Members of the council are:

William O. Baker, retired chairman of the board, A.T.&T. Bell Telephone Laboratories; Lewis M. Branscomb, chief scientist, International Business Machines Corporation; Henry G. Cisneros, mayor of San Antonio; John W. Gardner, writer, consultant, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and former president of the Carnegie Corporation; Fred M. Hechinger, president, New York Times Company Foundation Inc.; James B. Hunt, former Governor of North Carolina; Donald Kennedy, president, Stanford University; Margaret L.A. MacVicar, vice president, Carnegie Institution of Washington and professor of physical science and Ida Green professor of education, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Shirley M. Malcom, program head, office of opportunities in science, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Ray Marshall, Bernard Rapoport centennial chair in economics and public affairs, L.B.J. School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, former U.S. Secretary of Labor; Shirley McBay, dean of student affairs, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Michael O’Keefe, president, Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education; Mary Louise Petersen, former president, Iowa State Board of Regents; Ruth E. Randall, Minnesota commissioner of education; Peter T. Smith, Lt. Governor of Vermont; John C. Taylor 3rd, counsel, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison; Robert M. White, president, National Academy of Engineering; and William S. Woodside, chief executive officer and chairman of the board, American Can Company.

A version of this article appeared in the January 30, 1985 edition of Education Week as Carnegie Creates Forum To Help Shape U.S. Education Policies