Carnegie Revamps and Relocates Forum on Economy and Education

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Carnegie Corporation officials said last week that the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy will be moved from Washington to the foundation's home office in New York City and will be converted chiefly into a grant-making program.

Marc S. Tucker, the forum's executive director, has left the corporation to launch an entity called the National Center on Education and the Economy, which will be based in Rochester, N.Y. (See story on page 25.)

The developments signal a new incarnation for the forum, one of the most ambitious foundation initiatives in education in recent history.

The forum was created by the corporation as a 10-year, multi-million-dollar endeavor in 1985. It was designed to bring together leading Americans who could help reshape education policy to reflect the demands of a scientific and technologically oriented economy. The forum's 1986 report, A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century, quickly became one of the most-often cited documents of the school-reform movement. Its release catapulted the forum into the national spotlight, and turned its director, Mr. Tucker, from a little-known policy analyst into a prominent spokesman for American education.

Carnegie Corporation officials said last week that their 10-year commitment to the forum remains as strong as ever, and that they will continue to support efforts to carry out the task force's work.

E. Alden Dunham, chairman of the corporation's grant program in education, said the shift in operations is "in no way a sign of failure or a lessening of interest" on the part of the foundation.

Instead, he suggested, the "overwhelming" success of A Nation Prepared caught the foundation by surprise, and began to upset the balance between its funding initiatives.

"Education: Science, Technology, and the Economy"--the division which Mr. Dunham heads--has three emphases: improving education in science, mathematics, and technology; increasing the access of minority students and girls to high-quality education in those subjects; and policy development through the work of the forum.

The task-force report, Mr. Dunham said, "was so successful and high-profile ... that, in fact, we got the tail wagging the dog."

The corporation has already committed some $10 million to help carry out the task force's recommendations. That includes $1 million a year for the next five years to support the new National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; approximately $2.2 million to Stanford University to explore new ways of assessing teachers' knowledge and skills; and $890,000 to the National Governors' Association to help states implement the task force's ideas, with the promise of forthcoming support for two more years.

Those commitments--along with the $1.5 million a year it took to run the forum, and the foundation's other education ventures--consumed most of the budget in Mr. Dunham's division.

When the forum was created in 1985, the corporation agreed to review its structure and direction at the end of three years, Mr. Dunham said. That process is now going on. A meeting of the forum's advisory council is scheduled for March.

Governor Hunt, who serves on that council and chairs the new national board for professional teaching standards, said, "I think as [foundation officials] looked ahead at whether or not they could handle several task-force-type operations, it became clear that that was just more than they were set up to do."

David A. Hamburg, president of the corporation, also serves personally as chairman of the forum, Mr. Hunt noted. "And you just cannot be that deeply involved in all of these separate pieces when the job becomes that big."

He predicted that the national board and the new research center would both pick up pieces of the task force's policy agenda.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dunham said, his division will continue to build on the corporation's focus on education and the economy. It has already committed $1 million to a major project to improve the access of minority students to education at all levels.

The foundation is also discussing the creation of a new commission or task force that would explore how to get first-rate scientific information into the hands of policymakers as they confront difficult scientific and technological issues.

Complicated Arrangement

Mr. Dunham added that it had become increasingly complex for the foundation to serve as a grant-making enterprise with a quasi-independent operating arm.

Although the corporation's board of trustees enthusiastically supported the task force's work, he said, the foundation was concerned about whether the forum, under Mr. Tucker, would continue to accurately reflect the trustees' views.

"Marc is a very powerful person, and he speaks articulately and has a point of view," Mr. Dunham noted. The new center, he said, will give Mr. Tucker a "freer reign" to continue his work, while enabling the foundation to maintain a "more neutral" stance.

Similarly, by providing grants for more of the policy-development in the future, Mr. Dunham said, the corporation will not "muddy the waters" regarding which views its trustees personally support.

"We all concluded that it would be better for the future of the policy-development piece for me to go back to being a grantee to give me a little more independence," Mr. Tucker said last week.

Both Mr. Hamburg and Mr. Dunham praised Mr. Tucker and his staff for making the task force's work so successful.

"Thanks in no small measure to Mr. Tucker's leadership, and the staff he assembled, the Carnegie Forum has had an impact on the course of events in American education far greater than any of us had ever dared hope," Mr. Hamburg"We are pleased to be able to play a part in establishing an organization that will enable Mr. Tucker to continue his uniquely important contribution to the education-policy scene in the United States."

"I know that the commitment of the corporation to education is not a passing or transient one," said Shirley Malcom, a program officer at the American Association for the Advancement of Science who serves on the forum's advisory council and as a board member for the new national center. "The intention to stay with this set of issues for enough time to give them a chance to work burns as brightly as ever."

The new center, in particular, she said, provides a mechanism to put some of the recommendations raised by the task force "on the firing line."

Vol. 08, Issue 15, Pages 1, 24

Published in Print: January 13, 1988, as Carnegie Revamps and Relocates Forum on Economy and Education
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