Transforming Public Education

April 22, 2010

Photo Gallery: Transforming Public Education Symposium

Video: Keynote and Roundtable Discussion

Over 450 educators, community leaders, business leaders and 137 Bradley students  attended the “Transforming Public Education” symposium  at the Peoria Civic Center on April 21.   Marcus Belin, a senior education major, was given the honor of introducing U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and did so with some humor, suggesting he has a resume available for school superintendents at the gathering.  

Secretary Duncan spoke passionately about our nation’s education crisis and the need for innovation and reform in our public schools to ensure that every child receives a world-class education.   The Obama administration’s blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act includes:  raising standards for all students so that every child graduates from high school ready for college and a career;  assessing the effectiveness of teachers and principals;  encouraging and supporting local innovation; and  training for teachers and principals in high-need schools.  Secretary Duncan also emphasized the need for mayors, community leaders, business leaders and higher education administrators to team together to support our public schools.

Dr. Kenneth Wong, Director of the Urban Education Policy Program at Brown University, then led a fascinating panel discussion with Secretary Duncan, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin, Louisiana’s State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek  and Peoria School District 150’s new Superintendent Grenita Lathan.   Importantly, Peoria Mayor Ardis and Superintendent Lathan pledged to get outside of the “silo mentality” to work together to truly make a difference in ensuring that all children in Peoria public schools succeed.

At the symposium’s lunch,  Garfield Primary School Principal Kevin Curtan spoke of the incredible collaboration that was taking place between social service providers, faith-based organizations and Methodist Medical Center in his school which is resulting in improved student achievement and parental involvement. 

Bradley’s Dean Joan Sattler spoke about the many ways that Bradley University’s College of Education and Health Sciences students are helping our in our public schools.  The keynote address was given by Louisiana Superintendent Pastorek  who talked about the key role that principals play and how they need to be education leaders and fiscal managers and that they need to be given autonomy to do their job.  Pastorek also said that rigorous assessment and accountability are needed in public schools for both principals and teachers. 

In the afternoon session, distinguished panels of experts, including Bradley’s Dean Sattler and Dr. Helja Antola Crowe, discussed full-service community schools, the new federal government’s Race to the Top program and charter schools. 

The symposium was hosted by Bradley’s Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service and the College of Education and Health Sciences along with The Dirksen Congressional Center, The City of Peoria and the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce.

In the News