For Democracy’s Future: Education Reclaims Our Civic Mission (Part 2)

Eduardo Ochoa:
Well, welcome back, everyone. We certainly hope your
conversations were engaging and informative and we look forward
to learning more about them. I did sample each one of you a
little bit over the course of the last 45 minutes and it
sounded extremely interesting. For those at home we want
to hear from you, too. We encourage you to share
highlights of your conversations with us by e-mailing them
to civic [email protected] Joining me on stage are the
five reporters representing each discussing. To keep us on schedule we’d
appreciate it if each person could try to limit his or her
response to about a minute. (laughter) I’ll ask that you please
introduce yourself and which discussion group you are in and
with the last 30 seconds share with us some key highlights
from your breakout. (laughter) Okay, go! Please. Ron Crutcher:
I am Ron Crutcher,
President of Wheaton College, the original Wheaton
College in Massachusetts. And I was in the group
really advancing civic learning P through 20. We said K through 12, but it
really should be P through 20. We had a really
good but, you know, intense discussion because
we didn’t have enough, as much time, but I think
there are three points that I want to make. First of all, there were a lot
of comments about the fact that oftentimes civic learning or
civics is looked at as being one course or one experience
and that there should be a sequential arc throughout the P
through 20 experience and that these experiences should
be just that, experiences. Doing things as a young woman
from western Kentucky said. Being engaged. Engagement is
critically important. Number 2, that
higher ed leadership, leadership in
general is important. That is to say that the person
who — the persons who are leading the institution have to
set the tone and that in order to ensure that you can measure
or demonstrate that you’re students are engaged in civic
learning that you the develop some ways of developing
civic portfolios. Civic experience portfolios as
a means of demonstrating the experiences that your
students have had. And then, thirdly, that inquiry
about student learning — about civic learning, excuse me, can
really be cross disciplinary. That is, it can cross
disciplinary boundaries. That it’s not, that civics
should not be thought of only in the purview of the
political science professors. And that in a sense in order
for us to truly be successful at engaging all students, because
we also talked about the civic learning being a
pervasive experience, we really have to infuse civic
learning and engagement across the curriculum P through
12 — P through 20. (applause) Eduardo Ochoa:
Thank you, very much. (applause) Tim Eatman:
Hello? Tim Eatman, a faculty
member at Syracuse University and Director of Research for
Imagining America Artists and Scholars in Public Life. We were in the public
scholarship breakout group that was moderated by Nancy Kanter
and Julie Ellison and I gave some introductory remarks. But we had about three
takeaways as well. And one was a very astute
observation that we are now at a level of engagement with engaged
scholarship and publicly engaged work where we can probably
create some market pressure that rewards incentives and allows
universities to take this on in a full way so the groundwork is
laid and there is an openness and opportunities to
solidify these efforts. And that, secondly, we need to
think about leveraging the power of different voices, of
knowledgemakers that come out of these sorts
of collaborations. And so foundations and other
philanthropic groups can help us create a market for alternative
ways to have impact in the community and to create
genuinely — a genuine sustainable and
respectful relationships. This matter of creating
respectful relationships is something that we struggle with
and we have to do a great bit more work in terms of
studying and understanding. And thirdly, we probably should
give some attention to focusing on early career scholar
alliances and how we can leverage graduate student and
early career scholar networks across institutions and
associations to do that. So as a national alliance, we
can figure out federal as well as philanthropic changing
policies and who can get grants, incentivizing collaborative
alliances among community alliances and taking on issues
like broader impacts that register in agencies like
the NSF and other agencies. So that’s what we can
report in this quick time. Thank you. (applause) Blase Scarnotti:
Hi, good afternoon. I’m Blase Scarnotti from
Northern Arizona University. And our session was on “Build
and Strengthening Community Campus Connections” with George
Mahaffey and Ira Harkavy. And out of quite a few questions
we developed for the session we really, because of the
time, focused on two. Primarily, what are the key
ideas and core values that bring campus and community members
together in civic conversations to actualize public
democratic work? There are several ways of
unpacking the question. One, we’re really exploring core
values that motivate why we’re engaging, as higher education,
why we’re engaging with the community such as play space
development, social justice, the desire to development
civic agency and democratic capacities, civic
professionalism. And also then what are the
core values in how one actually engages with the community,
that there’s reciprocal dialogue that’s a flat learning space,
that everyone gets something out of it. There were cautionary words
brought forward about being careful not to colonize
the communities in which we’re working. For example, that we want
to develop cooperative relationships and a variety of
other ideas that came out such as what are the boundaries
and roles for education in the community, how do we interact? We need to develop, move
really from simple answers to more complex answers. Defining the mutual benefits
for communities and higher education each. And as well as understand really
that fundamentally as our work is academic so much of it
really is based in and of the community. For example the field of
sociology was brought up as an example. In addition, how do we enable
enthusiasm really to develop for a civic agency in all classes
and among all of our students? The second question was
really how do we incentivize all of this. And there was a lot of
discussion about what incentivization means
within this context. Basically coming down to
breaking down the unidirectional flow of power and knowledge and
to develop the reciprocal and long-term relationships. Thank you. (applause) Jean Johnson:
I’m Jean Johnson, I’m here with
the National Issues Forums and also I’m with Public Agenda. And our group was “Deeping Civic
Identity Values and Vision.” I think the cornerstone of the
meeting was we saw this is a moment of crisis but also
a moment of opportunity. But that we really need to make
the case for the role of higher education in solving
this problem. And that that means changing
expectations both of higher education institutions but
also of students and faculty. And in talking about this with
a lot of very good examples, I thought that we came up
with a lot of very natural, understandable, accessible ways
to talk about this mission that could really resonate
with a lot of the public. That we want to see
students and our institutions as problem-solvers. Students should learn to see
themselves as agent of change. They need to find a way not only
to have an idea but to make it happen and not wait
for the politicians. We need to model democracy as a
way to solve problems within our institutions and in
student government. We need to start dialogues on
controversial issues and show that those can take place
and the example here was in Wisconsin football, which I’m
still having trouble imagining, but that was the example. We need to have relationships
that create imagination. We need to teach students
that they can plant a seed and watch it grow. We need to encourage in
our students the hunger to understand how things work so
that they can help shape them. We need to teach our students
that listening is as important as having a voice and it’s an
absolute priority that we work together to collect stories
to give the American people the sense this can be done and
that there is a genuine hope and opportunity here. (applause) Sarita Brown:
Good afternoon, I’m Sarita Brown
with Excelencia in Education. And our discussion was
focused on “Provide Evidence, Civic Learning, and
College Success.” We had a great running start
because in addition to the wonderful information that has
been shared verbally by Carol and the report from AACNU,
AACNU has dug even deeper and mined what evidence
already is available. Ashley is here, I don’t
see her at the moment, but has a handout that has
already looked at existing surveys and questions of
pertinence in terms of this broad and ongoingly defined
definition of civic learning, civic democracy. The other aspect of the evidence
is evidence that we used in the report itself. As a person who oftentimes looks
at things in a macro way in my day job, I found that the
ten indicators of anemic U.S. civic health, which are on page
2 or 4 of the Crucible Report, including things like the
U.S. ranked 139th in voter participation of 172 world
democracies in 2007. You can go on with this. This is another place that if
we were to consider what’s the evidence that we use to
say that we have this need, this would be a way to frame
the data-gathering that we would need to be able to respond. That’s from an
external perspective. Our discussion simultaneously
looked at what would have to go on within institutions. What are some of the issues
that we would deal with there? And one of the aspects that I
think will be part of this work going forward is the
continual definition. President of Cal State
University, Monterey Bay, kept talking about what is “it.” What is it that we
are all talking about, the definition of
engaged citizen. How does the faculty
see their place in that? What is their responsibility? The fact that we already
know that there are impact, there are high impact practices
that are not only able to help students navigate their
place in the world and their responsibilities, but
also succeed and graduate, is something that we want to
keep at the forefront of our problem-solving for
future evidence. And then there was a whole set
of very important practical issues that we’re talking
about doing this at a time that academic institutions, public
institutions in particular, are facing pretty
significant budget cuts. And so the opportunity for
us to work collectively and collaboratively, to
share each other’s work, to have surveys that can
be shared across the field, to pool our learnings
to go forward, all of this was part of
our discussion and really just the beginning. So I think that in terms of his
hard-edged notion of evidence, there is a lot of energy
here and there is a lot of readiness to do it. Eduardo Ochoa:
Thank you. (applause) Well, I want to thank all of
the reporters for very concise and sharp feedback to
us on what took place. I’m going to ask them to please
step down at this point and give them another hand, please. (applause) Well, clearly,
this was a teaser. These sessions were very short
and meant to stimulate your engagement with this and
motivate you to work even more energetically towards
the cause of civic learning. We don’t want the
conversation to stop here. And we hope that the event will
serve as a catalyst for future activities and exploring ways
we can further our commitment to the advancement of
civil learning and democratic engagement. So as part of this conversation,
we’d like to share with you some of the commitments that we have
made and are making to advance this important mission. And to start us off I’d like
to welcome back to the stage Carol Schneider, President of
the Association of American Colleges and Universities. And Harry Boyte, Director of the
American Commonwealth Partnership. (applause) Carol Schneider:
You should already have
received in the breakout groups the copy of the
commitments that over 75 organizations and
colleges, universities, and community
colleges have made. So I hope everybody has this. Harry and I are both going to
be referring to it as we try to share with you the good work
that has already been planned to go forward from this launch. Harry. Harry Boyte:
So this is just an illustration. These are just suggestive. As Carol said, there is a very
rich body of initiatives that were catalyzed in the
last several months, but their suggestive of the
range and the richness of possibilities and
practical initiatives. I’m going to talk about two
and then Carol is going to talk about two points of the star and
then I am going to talk about the final point of the star. So under deepening
civic identity, which is really we think
the democracy colleges for the 21st century, just to
highlight several things, we are planning with National
Issues Forums and the Kettering Foundation and other
deliberative groups, a series of conversations across
the country about what kind of citizenship do we need and how
to educate for it and what’s the role of education in the higher
education in that process. Kettering will produce
materials that will be online, the National Issues Forum
will make it online. I would say at
the deepest point, this was the theme that
came out in our group, it’s really about agency. How can people stop complaining
about what’s happening out there and say what can we do; we’re
the once we’ve been waiting for in the words of the
old civil rights song. Secondly, there is Democracy
U, which many of you have seen, we began to pass around a
commitment statement but it’s a website that will continue
to expand stories, it’s connected to a
Facebook page and Twitter. We want to really use
this as a resource. So during the Blair House I’m
going to put up a sign-up sheet who would make a commitment
to work with the Democracy U in different ways. Publicize it, get out
the word, write stories. We’ve already had some
commitments just in a couple of minutes passing it around. And thirdly, under the civic
identity, we want to highlight a very creative initiative which
Julie Ellison and her colleagues have begun called
“Citizen Alum.” In a time of budget crisis
and shortening and scarcity consciousness, Citizen Alum
offers tremendous opportunities to shift the paradigm to
abundance by looking at and creating partnerships between
colleges and universities and their alumni. And all the different kinds
of work and learning and civic agency and creative efforts
they’re doing can be tremendous pedagogical resources if we
broaden the paradigm of what is involved in alumni relations. So under civic identity,
just a few of the things. Under strengthening connections
between campuses and communities, you saw on the
star video Muriel Howard talking about the long-standing
commitment of the state colleges and universities
to being stewards of place. This next year a couple
of things to highlight in that regard. There will be a civic health
assessment which we briefly referenced, that is, there will
be a working group that the American Democracy Project is
putting together which will look at the impact of colleges and
universities on the communities in which they are located. Now, again, this really holds
challenge possibilities to the reining ranking systems which
tend to discourage involvement in communities, actually. And secondly, there is a
partnership forming between groups like the Anchoring
Institutions Task Force and the American colleges and
universities around how to strengthen ties, how
to develop policies, how to work with federal
agencies around how to strengthen community
campus connections. Carol Schneider:
Thank you. So moving on to
two more prongs of the star, the commitment to advance
civic learning and democratic engagement and make it, in
the words of Crucible Moment, pervasive rather
than peripheral. And also providing evidence
about the difference this actually makes to students. There is a huge amount of energy
that has gone into all of these issues and in fact, some 13
of the organizations that are mentioned on the commitments
list have agreed to work across their various sites of
activities with AACNU in partnership to lift up models
for that developmental arc for civic learning that
we’re talking about. And just to give you one
illustration of something that is going to happen
in that connection, democracy commitments, which
Brian Murphy talked about earlier, a new network of
community colleges working directly on this issue, will
be — has been funded by the National Endowment for the
Humanities — and we thank you — to work with the AACNU and
all of our members which include community colleges, but other
kinds of institutions as well, to develop models for civic
learning that are particularly applicable to those students for
the first two years of college. I also want to call attention
to work that Bringing Theory to Practice is doing. That is a national network
that across all the various philanthropies has probably
put more resources into more institutions to lift up civic
learning as a shared priority than virtually any other. Sally Pingree is here with us
today and I want to thank her for her long-term commitment to
this and other foundations as well that have supported it. They will soon be announcing
an RFP to support additional institutions in work to make
civic learning more pervasive, to bring it further into the
core mission and the core work of all our institutions. So watch for that. I think the time is February. And you can find out
about it on our website. And then finally in
the area of learning, I hope everyone in this room is
aware that the Lumina Foundation is putting a a huge amount
of energy behind an effort to define what the “it” is, what is
it that students have done when they are ready to receive
an A.A. degree or a B.A. degree or an M.A. degree, they
are inviting institutions and associations and the creditors
to test a draft description of what a college degree is
supposed to mean in our time and civic learning is one of
the five essential components that they are testing. This is an opportunity
for all of us to say, yes, this is what a high quality
degree includes and to be part of that conversation. And if we haven’t got it
quite right, make it better. Make it better. Don’t say we don’t
want one-size-fits-all, we’ll never have
one-size-fits-all. We’ll have many different
ways of coming at this. But what we have to have is a
shared understanding that this is core to our mission. In terms of the assessment I’m
just going to mention a couple of things that you
need to be aware of. Campus Compact as been a leader
in service learning as everyone knows and has been a source of
some of the important evidence showing that the more students
are involved in service, the more likely they
are to complete college. Now, there is no higher priority
for our society than to have more people actually
succeeding in college. So to show that these kinds
of things actually pay off for persistence and completion is a
very important contribution and they are going to be taking that
work further and putting more of it in the hands of presidents
and other people who are in a position to make decisions
about these issues. Our society has already
committed to college completion. Let’s show that civic
learning actually contributes to that outcome. And then finally in the context
of Lumina’s work, both AASCU, which of course has been
a leader on stewardship of place and campus community
partnerships and democracy in the curriculum and cocurriculum
and AACNU which is deeply committed to this, each have
grants to work with state systems, 12 states all
together, grants from Lumina, community colleges,
four-year institutions, to work on ways of assessing
students’ learning outcomes as they move from one
level to another. And, therefore, we have agreed
as to associations to create a working group that will go
deeper into what it means to actually assess student’s
gains in civic competence and capability as a consequence
of their college experience. So some things that
are going to happen, it’s only the tip
of the iceberg, but we are organized
to go forward. (applause) Harry Boyte:
And finally under
public scholarship, a really deeply
transformative concept, again, scholarship in
public, with public and for public purposes. There are several things
I want to highlight. First of all, as
I understand it, the public scholarship group
discussed creating an ongoing policy working group that we
want to connect with ACP work to look at how to
develop policies to strengthen public scholarship. Now, there are a lot
of opportunities here. For example, as Julie
Ellison has pointed out, the scoring systems in
NEA or NEH grants have a lot of difference. Make a lot of difference
in terms of how public scholarship is. Universities and colleges also
have policy dimensions that are tremendously powerful in
terms of promotion and tenure guidelines, but the policy
dimension is important. Secondly, I want to hear,
also highlight the civic science discussion. We’re sponsoring in the American
Commonwealth Partnership, which grows out a number of
years but it’s really again about how to understand the
constitution of science and the questions that scientists asked,
as well as how they work with different constituencies
and groups. There is a partnership of
four different institutions and centers and we
will continue this, but they include
the Delta Center, the Jan Group at the University
of Wisconsin, Northern Arizona, and especially the Teaching
Climate Science and Solutions and the Center for Democracy
and Citizenship to date. And finally I want to simply
recognize Syracuse University and the leaderships of Nancy
Kanter for the concept of scholarship in action which has
pioneered a notion and practice of engaged deeply democratic
scholarship which is making a real difference in the life of
a community in tangible ways and also transforming the
institution itself in the process. Thank you. (applause) Eduardo Ochoa:
Thank you, very much, for that. And now I’m going to have an
opportunity to thank everybody who has contributed to making
this an outstanding event later on when we close before
going to the Blair House. But now to start that
process of closing our event, we’ll hear from three key
administration officials leading efforts to prepare Americans for
informed engaged citizenship. So I’m pleased to introduce
now Jonathan Greenblatt. Jonathan Greenblatt, after
arriving in September of 2011, became the new Director of the
White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic
Participation at the Domestic Policy Council. Prior to joining
the White House, Jonathan served as the Director
of the Impact Economy Initiative at the Aspen Institute exploring
ways public policy can help enable an environment which
accelerates impact investing and a scale — and scales
social enterprising. He is also the founder and
former president of All for Good, a nonprofit organization
inspired by President Obama’s call for more Americans to
serve and to help strengthen communities and individuals
through service. Were thrilled Jonathan could be
with us here today to share his thoughts about this
important initiative. Please join me in welcoming
Jonathan Greenblatt. (applause) Jonathan Greenblatt:
Good afternoon! How nice to see all of you here.
How’s the day been so far? Audience Members:
Wonderful. Jonathan Greenblatt:
Really? It’s at a low energy. I’m a little surprised. But it sounds like you have had
a good thorough day and that Martha has worked you all well. So I’m really glad to see that. So first of all, I’m really
glad to welcome y’all here to the White House. We think about this as the
people’s house and it is really a great pleasure and privilege
to see all of you here. And I know many of you came from
all parts of the country to be here today and gave us your sort
of best thoughts and thinking about this issue of civic
learning and this issue of civic participation which is really an
essential element of our agenda. So I appreciate the
kind introduction. And it’s really, you know,
just a pleasure to be here with all of you. I should tell you that I also,
before I get into it, actually, let me just take a moment, and
I know there will be thanks afterwards that Eduardo will do,
but it’s a privilege for me to just acknowledge Under Secretary
Kanter who is doing such yeoman’s work for Secretary
Duncan and helping to lead the whole Administration to think
differently about this issue of civic education and about
education in general. Thank you, Martha, for
all your good work. (applause) And I also think the next
round of applause should go to all of you. I mean, that was a
fairly impressive list of accomplishments that were just
rattled through by the panelists and the report out is
really quite remarkable. To think about the breadth of
things that you have all covered in just one day, and to think
about the span of activities encompassed in that report which
I have had the chance to review and it’s just quite impressive,
says a lot about the level of creativity and energy and
thoughtfulness that you all brought to this process. So thank you for doing that. (applause) So for me this issue of
civic participation isn’t just an idea; it’s
been a guiding, sort of principal in my life. I first got engaged in public
service as a student at Tufts University where I was working,
I was studying with a generous support of a work study program
and I was motivated actually to join the Clinton for President
Campaign back in 1991 because of his commitment to City Year
and this notion that maybe, just maybe for me rather than
working as a janitor in the dining halls, you know, and
serving food and washing dishes, I could serve my community. And that might be a way that I
could give back and help afford a college education. That motivated me to serve. Motivated me to join that first
campaign and move to Little Rock and change my life. And so I deeply think about
this notion of being involved in strengthening our communities
through service and through the public process as just a vital
part of my own personal journey. Here in the U.S., democracy
really serves as a model for the world. And we think that the
government has a role to play, not just to govern but actually
to enable and empower all of you our citizens to learn and
participate in our democracy and to work together to solve
the problems that many of our communities face
in our increasingly interconnected world. There are some great speakers
who are coming after myself. I want to highlight
just a couple of them, particularly my colleague Robert
Velasco who is the CEO of the Corporation for National
and Community Service, the federal agency that
administers the AmeriCorps program and the
SeniorCorps Program. How many of you are
familiar with AmeriCorps? Raise your hands. Pretty much all of you. It’s great. I mean, few people realize that
programs that we care deeply about from Teach for America,
to City Year, to Habitat, a lot of Meals On Wheels
Program, Public Allies, the list goes on and on of
marvelous programs that are enabled through the
important work of AmeriCorps. Robert is doing yeoman’s work
to lead that effort and engage Americans old and young in
national service to strengthen their communities and
develop the skills to be long-term leaders. Secretary Duncan will also be
here this afternoon to close by talking about the role of the
department working with our nation’s schools, colleges and
universities to educate students for informed citizenship
which is important. And we have heard from also
Jim Leach here today who is doing his part. Just about every federal agency
counts, involving empowering citizens in some way. As the remarkable as the
commitments as was already announced makes clear, the
federal government doesn’t stand alone in our determination
to affecting Democracy by preparing Americans for this
notion of active citizenship or informed citizenship. But we have an important
role to play, nonetheless. So what I’d like to do is talk
to you in my brief remarks here, which really come at the end of
what I know has already been a very long day, and I realize
I stand between you and Blair House, so I had better be brief. But I want to talk to
you about this notion of social innovation. And in fact, I’d like
to just throw out there, how many of you know what
that means, social innovation? Okay. So I should tell you that in my
other life, before coming here, I taught at the
Anderson School at UCLA. And I was renowned for
cold calling my students. So at least some of
you raised your hands. So what’s your name and
what do you think social innovation means? Johnathan Ashton:
Johnathan Ashton, social
innovation — investment in things that can become
transformative and sustaining those models for change. Jonathan Greenblatt:
Great. So investments
and transformative sustainable change. Who else? I saw other hands. I will call on you. Anybody from this
side of the room? Any brave soul? The gentleman from Syracuse. Audience Member:
Sir, thinking creatively
about ways to ameliorate in some cases entrenched dysfunction. Jonathan Greenblatt:
Um-hmm. Audience Member:
Not only necessarily
looking at dysfunction, but also thinking about
leveraging other means to make a difference in society. Jonathan Greenblatt:
I think that’s excellent — I think it’s an
excellent response. I know I’m in an audience
of college and academics, but ameliorate entrenched
dysfunction as the way it’s described — (laughter) But I think that’s pretty good. I think the President likes to
talk about it as finding new ways to solve old problems. And I think that represents
pretty well what you said. (laughter) It’s okay. You’re a brave soul,
because I called on you. But I also think what
Jonathan said is true, too, is how do we do it in a way that
is truly transformative and that is sustained? And it makes it not sort
of a temporal difference, but one that’s indeed
enduring and changes systems. So that’s how we think
about social innovation. It’s about trying new approaches
that leverage market forces that cultivate evidence-based models,
and that drive cross sector collaboration to
seek new outcomes, to seek long-term impacts,
to seek systems change. In this context, we aim to serve
the President about focusing on a clear mission. Did you all know there was an
office of social innovation and civic participation
before you saw that slide? No? Yes. Some nods, some shrugs. Well, let me tell
you what we do. We focus on one clear
mission, which is elevating community solutions. It’s about identifying what
works and scaling it where it needs support, maybe
spotlighting it where that’s appropriate. Maybe seeding a
promising program or a high potential initiative. We’re not here to invent. We’re not here to create. We’re not here to prescribe. The President likes to
say that the solution’s already out there. Their typically on the
ground, in communities, on campuses where people come
together to solve problems, where people aren’t constrained
necessarily by the conventions that dominate in a
place like Washington, but just about
making a difference. It’s our job to lift that up
and amplify wherever we can. And we try to do that by coming
up with models that harness all of our human capital. Strategies like national
service or civic participation. We also focus on, how do
we increase the flows of financial capital? How can we bring more
resources to bear to tackle our toughest problems? And how do we ensure the
efficient utilization of those resources so we’re preserving
the public interest and not wasting the taxpayers’ dollars? So in the context of our
work on human capital, let me briefly mention
the crucial control of civic participation. We believe, I deeply believe in
this idea of a civic continuum, from those of you in
this room, for example, represent I think one aspect
or one spot on that continuum. Those of you who dedicated your
lives and your careers to the public service, to those
folks who participate in programs like AmeriCorps. Are there any former
AmeriCorps members in the room? Raise your hands. Where did you serve? Audience Member:
Boston. Jonathan Greenblatt:
Boston. With what organization? Audience Member:
City Air. Jonathan Greenblatt:
City air. In the back? Audience Member:
Los Angeles. Jonathan Greenblatt:
With what — Audience Member:
Teach for America. Jonathan Greenblatt:
Teach. You next
to her, one over? Audience Member:
Sacramento. AmeriCorps. Jonathan Greenblatt:
With who? Audience Member:
AmeriCorps, National
Civilian Community Corps. Jonathan Greenblatt:
NCCC. Who else over
here? I saw hands. You? Audience Member:
(inaudible) Jonathan Greenblatt:
Excellent. Over here? Audience Member:
(inaudible) Jonathan Greenblatt:
Great organization.
You, behind her? Audience Member:
(inaudible) Jonathan Greenblatt:
Wonderful. How about
over here? Yes? Audience Member:
Portland, Oregon, (inaudible) Jonathan Greenblatt:
Wonderful. I mean, you guys
represent some of our best and brightest, people who take the
time to spend an oftentimes immersive experiences working on
the ground in our communities. We — I also applaud
episodic volunteering, those of you who take time out
of your own busy lives to spend an hour, a week,
a month, a year, maybe this Monday on MLK day
working in your communities. And I also, we’re fascinated by
the new techniques of engagement enabled by technology. On a civic continuum, there are
opportunities for everyone to engage and contribute to the ongoing project of our democracy. Our role in the government
here is not to make the choices for people. I would suggest that
elevating community solutions, the role that the President
has asked me to undertake, is about ensuring that our
citizens have the widest set of options available to them,
so they can make informed, smart choices that align
with their own values. And we can encourage
entrepreneurs and we can encourage innovators to develop
the products and the services, the programs, the
platforms, that make civic participation easier. So the message is simple,
and President Obama deeply believes it. If we make it easier for people
to participate in democracy and solve our common
problems, they will. And I would actually say to you,
it was that spirit that elected the President just
three years ago. And it’s that spirit that I
think will guide us for the next five years. (applause) By the way, this is consistent
with what we know from research and behavioral economics
and it’s confirmed by some recent examples of
social innovation. I mean, there’s been a surge
in this body of work that’s made civic participation more
possible and more productive for U.S. citizens. And whether you call them
social entrepreneurs or social innovators or impact investors,
there’s all kinds of words floating around. But more and more
we’ve seen mavericks, we seem almost like
revolutionaries, from the private sector
and from civil society, for seizing opportunities to
create transformative change that scales, to find new
strategies to ameliorate entrenched dysfunction — (laughter) He’ll never live that down. (laughter) But really, to
simultaneously create change and transform
communities. And it’s role — I would
actually say to you that I’m here and it’s a privilege
to be here every day. It’s my responsibility to
do what we can to create the conditions in which that kind
of enterprise can flourish. Daniel Goldman has written
about radical transparency. The idea that only by exposing
the true price of goods and services can we — that we
produce and consume will we be able to make really, deeply,
profoundly informed choices guided by our commitments
for a clean planet and for healthy relationships. He argues, and I’m sure many of
you are already familiar with his work, that to provide
people with more accessible information, to make the choices
in the marketplace that reflect their values, they will
make the right choices. And we see this in all the time. As I said, this is part of
the spirit that animates the President every day. By creating pathways for people
to participate in Democracy, they will. And we see this in the grocery
store on the shelves where innovators have taken
commodities and found ways to imbue them with
meaning and purpose, creating brands that are
not just about consumption, they’re actually about
creating a better world. I was involved
with one of these, a business called Ethos Water. And I cofounded with the idea
of using a bottled water, who every time you consume it,
it would donate dollars to fund humanitarian water
projects around the world. Today, because of the results of
scores of millions of consumers, scores of millions of dollars
have been devoted to water related projects in Asia,
Africa, Latin America. We see it — we see policy
driving some of this, too. The higher fuel standards
advocated by President Obama have really helped to catalyze
the evolution of clean cars from Toyota, to the Prius, to the
Tessla — the Toyota Prius to the Tessla, the Fisker, and
lots of other hybrid models. Policy choices have created
the conditions in which consumers respond. And it’s not only good
for the environment, it’s good in terms of economic
recovery and job creation, as we’ve seen Detroit really
thrive in the past 12 to 24 months, in part
shaped by policy. But make no mistake,
creating real, meaningful opportunities for
the people of Detroit and the manufacturing base
of our country. At the same time, we have to
provide people with tools to make it easier, not just
to buy and to consume, but to actually take
part in public life. And sometimes social
innovators are the creators of new technology. But sometimes they’re simply
the ones who find an existing technology, a platform
that’s already out there, and find innovative
ways to use it. So for example, and these are
sort of torn from the headlines, think about Twitter. Imagine this for a moment when
Biz Stone and his cofounder created Twitter, they were
thinking about a better way to text message to each other. Today, there are more than 200
million messages exchanged on that service a day. And it’s evolved from a way to
get in touch with your friends. Now, it’s become a democratizing
platform that gives voice to the masses and has allowed ordinary
citizens in the Middle East, in central Europe, and
around the world to be heard, despite the policies of their
governments who might otherwise feel different. Think about donor shoes. I am going to guess there isn’t
a single person in this room who’s not familiar
with donor shoes. It’s, I think one of the most
fascinating examples of this new modalities of civic engagement. It was an ordinary schoolteacher
in the Bronx who needed dollars because of the, he was a
high school schoolteacher, I should say. He needed supplies
for his students. He went online to post his needs
to see if anyone would donate money so his kids could
have books and supplies. It was a simple idea in
2000 when Charles Best created DonorsChoose. Today, over $100 million have
moved through that platform. $100 million in
small contributions, helping nearly 6 million kids
and funding — are you ready for this — a quarter of
a million projects. And it all came again
from very humble origins. A teacher who simply said
we need a better way to fix an old problem. We need a better way to
create change and scale. I’m also fascinated but those
folks who simply take ordinary tools and put them to work. You know, Undersecretary
Kanter met Mark Hanis just the other day. Mark Hannis is the founder of
genocide intervention network. How many of you know if you have
genocide intervention at work on your campuses? Raise your hands. A couple of you. For those of you who don’t know,
my guess is it’s already there. It’s the largest network
of college students. It’s operating on universities
as well as the campuses of community colleges, bringing
together young people to fight against genocide. And how did it grow? How did it prosper? By using the old technique of
phone trees to make it easier for young people to call their
Congressmen and make an impact. It’s a pretty
remarkable platform. We see other companies, as
well, like Timberland, Ratheon, Whole Foods, lots of businesses
are making civic engagement, are making volunteering
part of their ethos, part of what animates
all of their workers. So looking ahead, I think
you’ll see the White House, this office, continue to elevate
community solutions to create the conditions in which
companies and colleges, in which ordinary people
and professional investors, in which philanthropists and
citizens can come together to elevate community solutions
and use social innovation as a propellant to advance
our domestic priorities. We’ll accelerate impact. We’ll create the outcomes
we all hope to see. As we look ahead, I know the
President and all of his staff, including myself, are excited
to collaborate with all of you, with all of you, as we take
this report to the next level, as we turn these
recommendations into realities, and demonstrate the
administration’s commitment to preparing citizens to
strengthen our communities, our democracy and our nation. Thank you very much, and enjoy
the rest of your evening. (applause) Eduardo Ochoa:
Thank you very
much, Jonathan. Our next speaker
is Robert Velasco, acting CEO of the
corporation for national and community service. In that role, he oversees the
federal agency that engages in more than 5 million Americans
— engages more than 5 million Americans in service through
its senior corps, AmeriCorps, and other programs, and leads
President Obama’s national call to service initiative,
United We Serve. Prior to being
tabbed for this role, Robert served as chief operating
officer and acting chief of program operations for CNCS. During nearly two decades of
dedicated federal service, he has also worked in management
program and regional operations across the U.S. department
of health and human services. Robert is a public servant at
heart and a true champion of the value and impact of service. Robert. (applause) Robert Velasco:
Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for that
introduction, Eduardo. It’s been said that the world
is run by those who show up. Today’s conference is about
preparing the next generation to do just that. This is a critical conversation
about the future of civic learning and
democratic engagement. And I want to thank Secretary
Duncan and Undersecretary Martha Cantor for the invitation
to join you today. I’m speaking immediately before
one of the most passionate education champions in the
nation so I’ll be brief. But I’d like to talk for just
a moment about why the work of preparing students for lifelong
citizenship is so important. I want to talk about why what
you do as educators to engage students in the world
around them matters. There is something special
happening with our young people. Last year, according to our
volunteering in America report, 3.2 million college students
dedicated more than 307 million hours of service in
their communities. Service valued at more
than $6.4 billion. More than $6.4 billion
to our economy. The number of millennial
volunteers has increased by almost a million
per year since 2006. And recently, applications
to AmeriCorps, our program that engages
more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each
year, have nearly tripled. The message is loud and clear. Our nation’s youth want to be
more than spectators in society. At the corporation for
national and community service, we see the impact of young
people every day on some of our country’s most
pressing problems. More than half a million
students serve through our programs every year. They’re teaching, tutoring and
mentoring children and helping individuals and communities
rebuild after disasters. They’re expanding access
to healthcare and economic opportunity for our most
vulnerable citizens, and preserving the environment
for future generations. And after their service, they’re
continuing their commitment to make this nation a better place. 60% of AmeriCorps alumni go
into public service careers. Today, we have a few
AmeriCorps members here. Can you please raise your hands? Great. Thank you
for your service. If you’re ever looking for
some hope for the future, or to see why civic learning
and engagement is so important, just spend a few minutes
talking to one of them. Service works. It helps shape the lives of
young people and positions them to be lifelong active citizens. Just last week, there was a
report about the growing number of students graduating with
law degrees who are going into public interest jobs. The experts were asked
what’s behind the trend. Is it the economy, the desire
for younger generations to have more work-life balance,
or something else? What David Stern, executive
director of Equal Justice Works, and an AmeriCorps grantee thinks
is there’s a generation of young people entering law school with
an established commitment to public service. This means that by the time
these students take their LSATs, by the time they apply to
their short list of schools, by the time they take
their first year courses, they’ve already decided that
their education can be used for the common good. And that just isn’t
happening with law students. Young people are choosing
earlier and more often to take up public service careers. That’s no coincidence. That’s the result of
the work of many of you. Teachers and schools and
organizations that take students out of the classroom
and into the community, that teach our young people that
they can do more than just study and analyze problems,
they can help solve them. Our schools, our colleges and
our universities play a powerful role in engaging students
in the world around them. That’s why every year, the
corporation for national and community service invest more
than $550 million or more than half of our funding
in education. It’s why we train, support
and mobilize thousands of professional educators who work
in k through 12 and college classrooms across the country. And it’s why for two decades,
we’ve worked to bridge service to education through
all of our programs. We’ll continue to do our part to
cultivate the next generation of active citizens and
public servants, including the tens of thousands
of AmeriCorps members. We’ll continue to support some
of the most innovative and proven strategies to put more
young people on the path to a brighter future through
programs such as our social innovation fund. And through the President’s
higher education community service honor roll, the
interfaith challenge, and other initiatives will
continue to challenge educators to make service a central part
of the student experience. Thank you for being a part of
today’s conversation and for what you do to connect
classroom to community, and community to classroom. For making civics come alive. The corporation for national and
community service believes in your work, we support your work,
and we look forward to being a partner and a resource to
you as you continue this very important work. You are helping to shape our
nation by shaping our young people to be better citizens. And so as many others have
said today, our success, the future of our
democracy, depends on it. Thank you. (applause) Eduardo Ochoa:
Well, our program is
supposed to end right now, but something tells me you’re
going to stick around for our next speaker. It’s really an honor for me and
a pleasure to introduce the man who certainly brought me to
Washington along with Martha Kanter, and who I think arguably
— and I know I shouldn’t be making comparisons, but arguably
you could say that he’s the most effective Secretary of Education
we’ve ever had in this country. There’s been some tremendous
changes in the past few years that have really energized our
community toward meeting the President’s visionary and
transformative goal for 2020 — education goal for 2020. The secretary was
confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 20, 2009. And prior to his appointment
as Secretary of Education, he served for almost ten years
as the CEO of the Chicago Public schools, becoming the longest
serving big city superintendent in the country. Secretary Duncan, I think, we’re
looking forward to hearing your take on the subject we’ve
been talking about today. (applause) Secretary Arnie Duncan:
Thanks so much for having me. I know it’s the end
of a long afternoon, and I have a beautiful
eloquent speech, which I probably won’t give,
because I think you guys have had a long day. So I’ll have it online
tomorrow, I’ll wing it here, and I apologize if
I make any mistakes. But keep it relatively brief,
you’ve got a nice reception after this. I first want to thank Martha and
Eduardo and our team for all of their hard work. Please give them a
round of applause. (applause) It has been an
amazing couple of years, and none of this stuff would
be happening without their hard work, their passion, not just
in the Department of Education, but across government. Robert and his team have been
amazing partners and we’re all in this together. I know this is the choir
here, so I’ll try not to do too much preaching. But I think simply put, this
anecdote unfortunately is true, I won’t get my numbers right,
but a vast majority — a much higher percentage of Americans
can name the Three Stooges than can name the three
branches of government. And so that’s our collective
responsibility is to change that basic fact. And this work is
real personal for me. My first job when I went to work
for the Chicago public schools was to institute a service
learning requirement. And we required students to do
40 hours of community service. And there was a bunch of
controversy and push back around that. But I have to tell
you as we got rolling, I can’t tell you how many young
people came to me who said, I hated this, I didn’t want to
do it, and they ended up 500, 700, 1,000 hours of service
because they had the opportunity, they had
never had that exposure. And for me, it’s sort of going
back to where Robert started. To me, we have this
tremendous imbalance. Our young people have an
appetite, they’re committed, they want to be engaged, and
somehow systemically at the elementary level, the
middle school level, the high school level,
and the university level, we’ve walked away from
providing those opportunities. Somehow it’s been a distraction,
somehow it hasn’t been seen as part of sort of the core
set of knowledge that they should understand. But for me, education has always
been so much more than about book knowledge. It’s really about how do we
engage in a vibrant democracy. And you can teach some of
those things using textbooks. But hands on learning
experiences that engage young people in the community and have
them at very early ages start to see the impact they can have,
I think is probably the best way to teach that. And so we’re going to do
everything we can to try and create more of
those opportunities, to make those more the
norm than the exception. And part of the issue I
struggle with so much, and this is just
another example of it, is so often opportunities happen
for the wealthy and for the privileged and not for the poor
and not for minority students. So in my home town of Chicago,
historically service learning of service was seen to
be the activity of the private school students. And my public school students
were seen as the recipients of the service. And we want to try and flip that
on its head so that every single young person, whether they
came from privilege or not, had an opportunity at 10 and
12 and 14 and 15 years old to demonstrate the difference they
can make in their communities. Right now unfortunately when you
survey freshmen in college and then seniors in college,
they feel they’ve had less opportunities to
make a difference, less opportunities to be engaged
over their time in college than when they entered. So that passion is there,
that desire is there, but somehow we’re not
meeting that need. And so collectively, we
have to do something very, very different. And what’s so interesting to me
is the exact same skills that young people learn through
civic participation, through being part of
a vibrant democracy, those are skills they need to be
successful in the economy today. They need to be able to work
as part of a diverse team; they need to be able
to ask hard questions, they need to be able
to think critically. And I think rather than
being a distraction, or something that
pulls them off course, these are exactly the kinds of
opportunities that are going to prepare them to do
well, whatever they do. Whether they go into AmeriCorps
or whether they go work in corporate America, they are
going to need these skills and these opportunities that we
collectively, government, private sector, nonprofits,
entrepreneurial, social service agencies, we have
to provide many more of those opportunities going forward. I saw Brian Brady here. Brian, do we have some
of our students here? Speaker:
(inaudible) Secretary Arnie Duncan:
We’ve got Chicago Ag students? Can we ask our Chicago Ag
students to please stand. We’ll give them a round
of applause, and Brian. (applause) This is off topic, but
Chicago Ag is one of my most favorite high schools
in the heart of Chicago, on the south side, we actually
have a working farm and there we had a cow give birth to a calf. So we felt we were
really proud about that. But that’s not why we’re here. (laughter) We’re here because I just
didn’t think this was important, I was able to witness what a
huge difference these kinds of opportunities made. So Brian (inaudible) challenge
did an amazing job of working with young people around
Chicago to do a couple things. They set up a student
advisory council. They met with me on a monthly
basis and to push me and my management team in some very
significant policy ways. And we thought we
were passionate, we thought we were
hearing all the issues. But let me tell you,
when you have 15, 16, 17 teenagers telling you,
Arne, you don’t get it, you’re missing what’s
really happening, you know, in our schools and
on the streets. That’s profound. And that information was so
helpful to us as we thought about policy. Brian also trains hundreds and
hundreds of young people to go be election judges
all across the city. In Chicago, that’s tough work. (laughter) But young people, 16, 17,
before they can even vote, are participating in democracy. They’re out working on a whole
host of different campaigns, bipartisan, nonpartisan,
but getting that exposure. These are young people who most
people might say might be more likely to drop out, coming
from tough communities, single parent homes, you
know, all the disadvantages. But they are so actively
engaged in what they’re doing, I was absolutely confident
about what they were going to accomplish long term. And so we have to continue to
find ways to make these kinds of opportunities the norm. Please challenge us. We want to be a good partner. We’ve laid out this
roadmap and call to action. It has nine steps that
I won’t read to you, you can go through it yourself,
that we’re committed to doing, many of which we’re
already trying to do. We want to take it
to the next level. But please challenge us. If you see us missing a beat,
if you see something we’re not doing, we want to
hear about that. Eduardo and Martha,
our entire team, we want to be good partners. The final thing I’ll
say is as passionate, as committed as our team is,
we know we can’t begin do this all alone. And we need you. That’s why we’re all here. We need to work
on this together. Right now as a country what
would we give ourselves? C minus? D plus? D minus? I’m not quite sure. But not a grade we can be
proud of with what we’re doing. This is not a time for
incremental change. This is not a time for
tinkering around the edges. We’ve got to think
radically different. We have to do it together. Hopefully today is the
start of a conversation, by no means an ending point,
but the start of a conversation. So these kinds of opportunities
for 10-year-olds and 22-year-olds can become
much more the norm rather than the exception. Our children need it,
their families need it, their communities need
it, our country needs it. There’s a thirst out there,
there’s a hunger out there. We have to do a better job
of feeding that together. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for your creativity. Let’s get to work together. Thanks for having
me this afternoon. (applause) Eduardo Ochoa:
Well, now I really am the
only one standing between you and reception. (laughter) So I just want to take a couple
of seconds to thank a number of people that have helped
make this possible. Thank you, especially to Harry
Boyte and Carol Schneider for their leadership
in this process. (applause) Thank you to Karen Musel,
Jim Leach, Dave Mathews, Jonathan Greenblatt,
Robert Valesco, and finally and thank
you to Martha Kanter. (applause) And once again, thank you
to Secretary Duncan for his leadership in our department. (applause) And now I’m going to
direct you to the reception, which is going to
be at Blair House. And so you have to go north on
17th street and turn right on Pennsylvania Avenue. And we are adjourned. Thank you.

Maurice Vega

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