Opening Remarks, CUNY Institute for Education Policy Panel

On November 29, 2012 Jonathan Fanton opened a panel discussion hosted by the new and the Research Alliance for New York City Schools at New York UniversityThe panel examined the recent research into New York City’s high school open admissions program and marked the first in a series of talks leading up to the new institute’s formal launch in May 2013. The CUNY Institute for Education Policy will be based out of The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. 

CUNY Institute for Education Opening

November 29, 2012

Good evening. I am Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the historic homes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and Franklin’s mother, Sara. Sara built these twin houses in 1907 and gave number 49 to Franklin and Eleanor as newlyweds. This was home base until they moved to the White House, the place where they raised their children, where Franklin recovered from polio in 1921, ran for Governor in 1928 and made his first address to the nation on November 9, 1932 on NBC radio. Following Sara’s death, the houses came to Hunter and served as an interfaith student center until 1992 when they closed in disrepair.

Thanks to the vision and determination of Hunter President Jennifer Raab, the Roosevelt Houses were renovated three years ago and now host Hunter’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. The Institute offers two undergraduate programs, one in Public Policy and the other in Human Rights and International Justice. It also offers a robust series of lectures, conferences and discussions of important domestic and international issues. And it supports faculty research.

Tonight, we gather with a distinguished panel of authors and scholars to discuss an important issue: the effects of New York City’s open enrollment policies on disadvantaged students. This is the topic of a forthcoming paper co-authored by members of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, of which I am chair, and New York University’s Institute for Education and Social Policy.  The Research Alliance conducts independent research on what is working and what is not in New York City schools. It seeks to make solid evidence, based on longitudinal studies, available to policy makers and the public.

Tonight’s event is sponsored by the CUNY Institute for Education Policy — a new, non-partisan center that will focus on the major issues and challenges confronting our nation’s public education system. The Institute, headed by Dr. David Steiner, is based at Roosevelt House and will have its formal launch conference in May. When fully developed, the Institute will provide a place for policy-makers, scholars, and educators to exchange initiatives and proposals, build an important research base for those debating nationally-important educational issues, and help turn good theory into good practice. The Institute also promises to offer visiting lectures, faculty seminars, and print and online publications that address a wide range of topics, including the effectiveness of past and present school accountability measures such as No Child Left Behind, the latest developments in teacher and administrative assessment techniques, alternatives to public schools such as charter and faith-based schools, and voucher programs, as well as recent research on child-centered learning models and differentiated instruction. It will also look at models for effective schools from other countries.

I am sure that Franklin and Eleanor would be pleased that the CUNY Institute for Education Policy and Roosevelt House are collaborating to reverse some of these alarming trends. Hear Franklin’s words before the National Education Association in the summer of 1938:

“…There is probably a wider divergence today in the standard of education between the richest communities and the poorest communities than there was one hundred years ago; and it is, therefore, our immediate task to seek to close that gap—not in any way by decreasing the facilities of the richer communities but by extending aid to those less fortunate. We all know that if we do not close this gap it will continue to widen, for the best brains in the poor communities will either have no chance to develop or will migrate to those places where their ability will stand a better chance…

With those prescient words in mind, let me introduce Dean David Steiner, who will set the stage for the rest of our discussion tonight.  David Steiner received his BA and MA degrees at Balliol College, Oxford before earning a PhD in Political Science at Harvard. He has chaired the Boston University Education Policy Department, served as Director of Education at the National Endowment for the Arts and Commissioner of Education for the State of New York. Much of his work has focused on the preparation of teachers – a critical path to improving education in our country. As Commissioner he led New York’s successful application for Secretary Duncan’s “Race to the Top” competition which brought 700 million dollars to New York to implement a wide range of education reforms, including professional development and curriculum design support for Common Core Standards adoption, and a full redesign of teacher certification in NYS to put more emphasis on clinical training. Hunter College is fortunate to have him as our Dean of the School of Education and Director of this exciting new Institute.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome David Steiner.


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