Education summits slated for Hub and Capital cities

by Heather Miller

A Jan. 30 statewide education summit in Baton Rouge will feature former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and News Corporation's Joel Klein, while a smaller regional education summit in Lafayette on Feb. 28 will bring together numerous education and civic leaders, including Lafayette Parish's new superintendent, Dr. Pat Cooper.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and News Corporation's Joel Klein will join almost a dozen statewide public policy groups and nonprofits in Baton Rouge Jan. 30 for a "frank conversation" about public education in Louisiana.

Organized by Republican state Rep. Steve Carter of Baton Rouge, the Leadership for Change! 2012 Louisiana Education Summit is bringing national education leaders to the capital city "to share their successful experiences in transforming public education in their cities and states," according to the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), one of the event's sponsors.

Bush, the erstwhile Florida governor and brother of former President George W. Bush, made his mark in Florida through vast education policy reforms that riled teachers' unions, increased student performance and prompted numerous other states, Louisiana included, to focus on school choice and accountability measures as a way to improve the state of public education.

Before stepping up to help Rupert Murdoch clean up the News of the World phone-hacking scandals, Klein served for eight years as chancellor of New York City's public schools, the country's largest school system that teaches more than a million students. Klein's efforts to transform education in New York included almost 100 new charter schools and tying teacher evaluations to student test scores, both of which fall under Gov. Bobby Jindal's education reform agenda.

Dr. Howard Fuller of The Black Alliance for Educational Options and Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett are also slated to speak at the event.

Other summit partners include Advance Innovative Education, The Black Alliance for Education Options (BAEO), Blueprint Louisiana, The Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL), The Committee of 100, The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, The Louisiana Federation for Children and Teach For America (TFA).

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In Lafayette, a regional summit is scheduled for Feb. 28 at the Cajundome Convention Center and will feature an interactive agenda for attendees looking to "create a unified vision for education."

The summit is sponsored by the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Acadiana, UL Lafayette, South Louisiana Community College and Acadiana Technical College.

Confirmed speakers so far include ULL President Dr. Joseph Savoie, Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper, Board of Regents representative Bill Fenstermaker, Picard Center Director Dr. Billy Stokes and Lafayette Economic Development Authority President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux.

"The goal is to position communities within the region to act collaboratively with a shared purpose amongst the school systems, business communities and individuals," says United Way of Acadiana Executive Director Margaret Trahan.

The cost to attend the Lafayette summit is $20. Contact the Lafayette Chamber for more information.