Rochester Site of Research Center

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Rochester, N.Y., will gain some "intellectual firepower" to help it redesign its school system when a new national research center on education and the economy moves there this spring.

The National Center on Education and the Economy will be headed by Marc S. Tucker, former executive director of the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy.

The institute will work collaboratively with the school and university systems in Rochester to test out some of the ideas explored in the forum's 1986 report, A Nation Prepared:4Teachers for the 21st Century.

The center has received a $200,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

It also has the strong backing of Rochester's education and business leaders, and of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo. At a press conference last week, Mr. Cuomo said he would ask the legislature to appropriate $1 million in the next budget for the effort.

Natural Laboratory

By wooing the new research center to Rochester, city officials said last week, they hope to make the urban school system into a "laboratory" for educational change.

The city's schools attracted nationwide attention in September, when teachers signed a contract that eventually will allow some of them to earn $70,000 a year. In return, they have agreed to work a longer school year and assume more responsibility.

The best-paid teachers will also work wherever they are needed in the school system. In addition, the contract creates school-based planning committees that could provide teachers with a far greater say in how schools are run.

School officials acknowledged last week that much of the inspiration for the contract provisions cameel10lfrom the forum's report, which recommended greater freedom and higher pay for teachers in return for more accountability.

Last year, the school superintendent, the local union president, a leading businessman, and the dean of the University of Rochester's graduate school of education traveled to Washington to seek advice from the forum. Officials said they had asked Mr. Tucker to move to Rochester before they knew of his plans to establish the new research center.

Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association, described the new arrangement as the "ideal marriage between a national policy-development institute and a local laboratory."

"All these theories and highfalutin ideas don't mean anything unless it can be demonstrated that they can be translated into local, practical realities," he said.

The center will help city officials to generate proposals, test their efficacy, and document their efforts.

Besides directing the center, Mr. Tucker will hold dual appointments as a professor of education at the University of Rochester and as a policy analyst within the school system. He may also chair a local coalition of school and business leaders, known as the Rochester Education Council.

The center, which is now based in Washington, is expected to move to Rochester by late spring.

State and National Agenda

In addition to its collaborative work with the Rochester schools, the new center will study the relationship of education to the national and New York State economies and develop strategies to increase productivity through the restructuring of education and training systems.

Henrik N. Dullea, director of state operations and policy management for New York, said the center's agenda "fits perfectly" with Governor Cuomo's education and economic-development programs.

"To the degree that Rochester, in its cooperative endeavor with the national center, becomes a laboratory for educational innovation, we are benefited as a state and, naturally, we think the nation is as well," he said.

Shirley Malcom, a program officer with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the center's board of trustees, said the center will provide the "intellectual firepower" needed to undertake the school district's ambitious redesign plans.

"I think there's some level of despair about whether the problems with these urban school systems can in fact be addressed," she said. "We need more success stories, so that people can realize that these [children] are educable; the problems are solvable; that it is a matter of will."

James B. Hunt Jr., another board member and former Governor of North Carolina, said he approached Mr. Cuomo three weeks ago about locating the institute in Rochester.

"He jumped on it immediately and just became tremendously enthusiastic," Mr. Hunt recalled.

Governor Cuomo will serve as honorary chairman of the center's board of trustees. John Sculley, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of the Apple Computer Company will serve as chairman.

Mr. Tucker said last week that the center's state agenda is still being developed. However, center officials have already begun work on their first national initiative: the production of a white paper for the next President defining a new federal role in education.

In late 1988, the center also plans to begin work on a major project on the education, training, and retraining of people now in the workforce.

Vol. 07, Issue 15 & 16

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