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UPDATE: The video is now available, and the podcast will be coming soon.
 
 
 
On Thursday, May 14 at 4:00 pm US-EDT, we record the third LIVE episode of the new LearningRevolution.com weekly interview series, REINVENTING SCHOOL. The recording will be available on our website and on YouTube by early next week, and the audio podcast will be available on our website and on popular podcast services.
 
This week, our topic is distance learning, a phenomenon that has suddenly captivated the world of school and education. Certainly, under the best of circumstances, with the most clever of professionals and parents, distance learning is an ideal short-term solution for students attempting to learn during this global mess. With second and third waves of coronavirus looming for later this year and 2021, along with the very large number of students for whom distance learning is a poor or otherwise unacceptable solution, there are big questions to be asked about how we learn, what we learn and why we learn.
 
Host Howard Blumenthal welcomes Jessica Piotrowski, Associate Professor at The University of Amsterdam, in The Netherlands, and Director of the Center for Research on Children, Adolescents and the Media (CcaM); Monica Goyette, the Superintendent of Schools for the Mat-Su Borough School District in Palmer, Alaska in the U.S.; and David Weinberger, author of Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We're Thriving in a New World of Possibility, and senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. We will be joined by Aiden, a student from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
 
Please join us for the live recording, or visit www.reinventing.school early next week to watch the recorded edition.
 
More about this week's guests:
 
5222015872?profile=RESIZE_180x180Dr. Monica Goyette became the Superintendent of Schools for the Mat-Su Borough School District in April, 2017. An Alaska educator since 1998, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences, a Masters of Education in Guidance and Counseling, a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership/Curriculum & Instruction. Prior to becoming the Superintendent, Dr. Goyette worked as a counselor, teacher, school principal, executive director, and assistant superintendent of instruction. Dr. Goyette’s teaching and educational leadership experiences have shaped her agenda, which has an unwavering focus on student achievement and success. She looks forward to making learning meaningful and lasting for students; using capital assets resourcefully and wisely; and meeting the needs of students, parents, and employees.
https://www.matsuk12.us/domain/4644
5222025277?profile=RESIZE_180x180Jessica Taylor Piotrowski, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). She is the Director of the Center for Research on Children, Adolescents, and the Media (CcaM), the Program Group Leader for Youth & Media Entertainment at ASCoR, and recently completed a 4-year term as the Chair of Children, Adolescents, and the Media division of the International Communication Association – the largest academic division of children and media scholars worldwide. An award-winning scholar, Dr. Piotrowski’s research investigates how youth process and comprehend media content, with specific attention to the potential benefits of media. She is particularly focused on understanding how young users process media content (cognitively, affectively, and physiologically) and the role of individual differences (dispositional, developmental, and social) in the selection and processing of media content. In recent years, she has begun to dive deeply into the topic of digital literacy in childhood and adolescence. Dr. Piotrowski frequently speaks at academic and trade conferences on the role of media in the lives of young people today. Moreover, with a strong belief in forging the divide between academic scholarship and societal practice, Dr. Piotrowski often shares her work in higher education classrooms, at public policy organizations, at children’s media organizations, and with childcare providers both within the Netherlands and worldwide. She is the co-author of the book Plugged In: How Media Attract and Affect Youth (Yale University Press, 2017), and regularly publishes in communication, psychology, and education journals.
5222037690?profile=RESIZE_180x180Dr. David Weinberger: In books, articles, posts, classes, and talks, David Weinberger, Ph.D. explores the effect of the technology on ideas. He is a senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and was co-director of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, and a journalism fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center. Dr. Weinberger has been a marketing VP and adviser to high tech companies, an adviser to presidential campaigns, and a Franklin Fellow at the U.S. State Department. In four books he has explored the effect of the Internet on knowledge, on how we organize our ideas, on business, and on the core concepts by which we think about our world. His new book, Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We're Thriving in a New World of Possibility (Harvard Business Review Press) argues that AI and the Internet are transforming our understanding of how things happen, enabling us to acknowledge the complexity and unknowability of our world. Dr. Weinberger has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Toronto and lives in the Boston area.
http://www.weinberger.org/David

4995562699?profile=RESIZE_400xHoward Blumenthal created and produced the PBS television series, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? He is currently a Senior Scholar at The University of Pennsylvania, studying learning and the lives of 21st-century children and teenagers. He travels the world, visiting K-12 schools, lecturing at universities, and interviewing young people for Kids on Earth, a global platform containing nearly 1,000 interview segments from Kentucky, Brazil, Sweden, India, and many other countries. Previously, he was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, and United Features. He is the author of 24 books and several hundred articles about technology, learning, business, and human progress. As an executive, Howard was the CEO of a public television operation and several television production companies, and a state government official. Previously, he was a Senior Vice President for divisions of two large media companies, Hearst and Bertelsmann, and a consultant or project lead for Energizer, General Electric, American Express, CompuServe, Warner Communications, Merriam-Webster, Atari, and other companies.
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Reinventing School - EPISODE 2

Our second episode for any time / anywhere viewing is now available both here and on YouTube. The audio podcasts will follow very soon--we are completing production on both of them this week. Over the next few weeks, we will settle into a regular schedule: new episodes live 4:00 pm Thursdays US-EDT, on-demand versions of each new episode early the following week, along with the podcasts. For more specific information about days, dates, episodes, and important ideas we discover along the way, www.reinventing.school remains the best place for current information.

The topic for the second episode is: "Paying for School: Today & Tomorrow." I thought we would be discussing school and school district budgets. The conversation grew into a much larger conception of how societies succeed and fail. The core: their investment in education. This is the reason for the ascendency of, for example, South Korea and Finland. Sadly, the United States seems to be moving in the opposite direction (please consider this difficult reality when your state, province, or local district decides to cut budgets and lay off teachers and support staff).

Once again, our guests for this episode:

  • Andreas Schleicher is Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris
  • Donna Cooper is the Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), the Greater Philadelphia region’s leading child advocacy organization that influences elected officials by combining useful research, practical solution-oriented policy recommendations with the mobilization of citizens who advance the organization’s work on behalf of children.
  • Dr. Lisa D. Cook is a Professor in the Department of Economics and at James Madison College at Michigan State University. As a Marshall Scholar, she received a second B.A. from Oxford University in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Dr. Cook earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Among her current research interests are economic growth and development, financial institutions and markets, innovation, and economic history.
  • Nik, an eighth-grader from Weston-super-Mer in England
  • Maya and Noah, brother and sister from Mississaugua, outside Toronto, Canada

Be safe, stay healthy, maintain distance, and make the best of the new realities.

HB

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(We recorded this episode today. We're currently preparing the video for on-demand access. It will be available here in a day or two.)
 
On Thursday, May 14 at 4:00 pm US-EDT, we record the second episode of the new LearningRevolution.com weekly interview series, REINVENTING.SCHOOL. Last week, the topic was public health and its impact on school schedules. This week, the topic is money--with the economic troubles brought on by the current pandemic, we want to understand how local and global economics intersects with the education of our children. For more about this subject, see our article about "School Bus Economics" about student transportation in the U.S. in the era of the virus.
 
Host Howard Blumenthal welcomes Andreas Scheicher, Director for Education and Skills, and a member of the OECD Senior Management Team in Paris, France; Donna Cooper, Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth in the U.S.; and Lisa D. Cook, Professor in the Department of Economics at Michigan State University; along with two students from Canada and one from England. Please join us for the live recording, or visit www.reinventing.school early next week to watch the recorded edition. More about this week's guests:

 

4995437078?profile=RESIZE_400xAndreas Schleicher is Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. As a key member of the OECD Senior Management team, Mr. Schleicher supports the Secretary-General’s strategy to produce analysis and policy advice that advances economic growth and social progress. He promotes the work of the Directorate for Education and Skills on a global stage and fosters co-operation both within and outside the OECD. In addition to policy and country reviews, the work of the Directorate includes the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), and the development and analysis of benchmarks on the performance of education systems (INES). Before joining the OECD, Mr. Schleicher was Director for Analysis at the International Association for Educational Achievement (IEA). He studied Physics in Germany and received a degree in Mathematics and Statistics in Australia. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the “Theodor Heuss” prize, awarded in the name of the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany for “exemplary democratic engagement”.  He holds an honorary Professorship at the University of Heidelberg.

 

4995461687?profile=RESIZE_400xDonna Cooper is the Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), the Greater Philadelphia region’s leading child advocacy organization that influences elected officials by combining useful research, practical solution-oriented policy recommendations with the mobilization of citizens who advance the organization’s work on behalf of children. Prior to PCCY, Cooper was a senior fellow at a respected national think tank, the Center for American Progress, where she led the Center’s research on early childhood education, public infrastructure and was a contributing researcher to the Center’s work to reduce the incidence of poverty. Cooper served as the Secretary of Policy and Planning for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 2003–2010 where she was responsible for the state’s education, public supports, environmental and health care policy. While in that position, Cooper led the development of the state’s Cover All Kids program which expanded access to affordable health care to nearly every child in the state. Cooper also led the seven-year effort to boost funding for public education that increased K-12 funding by over $2 billion and designed the state’s groundbreaking school funding formula which was enacted in 2008. In that position, she also helped launch the state’s model approach to investments in early childhood education and increased funding to make college affordable for low income and working-class students while creating one of the nation’s best systems to ensure that community college students can easily transfer credits to four-year colleges.

 

4995321655?profile=RESIZE_400xDr. Lisa D. Cook is a Professor in the Department of Economics and at James Madison College at Michigan State University. As a Marshall Scholar, she received a second B.A. from Oxford University in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Dr. Cook earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Among her current research interests are economic growth and development, financial institutions and markets, innovation, and economic history. As a Senior Economist at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers during the 2011-2012 academic year, Dr. Cook worked on the eurozone, financial instruments, innovation, and entrepreneurship. She is currently Director of the American Economic Association Summer Training Program.

 

4995562699?profile=RESIZE_400xHoward Blumenthal created and produced the PBS television series, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? He is currently a Senior Scholar at The University of Pennsylvania, studying learning and the lives of 21st-century children and teenagers. He travels the world, visiting K-12 schools, lecturing at universities, and interviewing young people for Kids on Earth, a global platform containing nearly 1,000 interview segments from Kentucky, Brazil, Sweden, India, and many other countries. Previously, he was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, and United Features. He is the author of 24 books and several hundred articles about technology, learning, business, and human progress. As an executive, Howard was the CEO of a public television operation and several television production companies, and a state government official. Previously, he was a Senior Vice President for divisions of two large media companies, Hearst and Bertelsmann, and a consultant or project lead for Energizer, General Electric, American Express, CompuServe, Warner Communications, Merriam-Webster, Atari, and other companies.
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Reinventing School - EPISODE 1

We're pleased to present our first complete episode for any time / anywhere viewing. We record new episodes at 4:00 pm Thursdays US-EDT. A short time later, we post the hour-long video on YouTube, and also on this web page. We're adding an audio podcast to the mix; when that begins, we'll announce it on this web page. The first episode features:

Ezekiel J. Emanuel,the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor, and Co-Director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania;

Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO;

Sonja Brookins Santelises, the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools;

and West Virginia middle school student Lyric Lee Taylor.

Together with host Howard Blumenthal, they discuss the next 12 months of school, both in the U.S and worldwide. Guest biographies appear in the article below.

 

 

 

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School Bus Economics

(Tomorrow, we produce Episode 2: Paying for School Today and Tomorrow. I wrote this article to prepare for that episode.)

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More than most countries, the United States relies upon school buses for student transportation. There’s a fleet of nearly a half-million buses assigned to the job. Other countries rely, to varying degrees, upon a combination of school and public transportation for students, but many of the ideas in this article apply worldwide.

In the U.S., there are about 480,000 active school buses. Estimates vary, but they seem to carry between 1/3 and 1/2 of public school students and many private school students as well. Many of these buses travel multiple routes per day. This is a story about economics and the surprising impact of transportation on school budgets in the Corona and post-Corona era.

Basically, there are four types of school buses. Type A and Type B are smaller buses, Type D is very large (similar to a public transit bus), and Type C (“conventional”) is the model you most often see on the road. A Type C bus can seat as many as 75-80 students, but sitting three-across on a bench seat is neither fun nor suitable for the current era. It’s more comfortable to sit two-per-bench; assume 13 benches on each side of the bus, or 52 students sitting two-by-two.

Now, change your thinking. Two-by-two no longer works. Not at all. A bus that carried 52 students in 2019 could carry 26 students in 2020, but that would place students in every bus seat. I suspect they will require more space between them; alternating rows may be safer. That would reduce the carriage to 13 students per trip.

If students do not attend school every day, but instead adhere to a Monday-Wednesday (group A) and Tuesday-Thursday (group B) schedule, there will be continued chaos for parents and continued struggles with conducting school at home, but this approach would cut the need for bus transportation in half. If 26 students are traveling by bus, that could work, but if 13 students are traveling on those buses, we’ll need twice as many vehicles, and twice as many drivers (there is a continuing problem with driver shortages, so this will not be easy from a budget and recruitment perspective).

Typically, it takes about 30 minutes to clean a school bus. The treatment requires two passes, first to clean, then to disinfect. I’m guessing this occurred once or twice a day, but now, it must be done every time the bus is used. If a single bus does three runs, in each direction, that’s six cleanings per day—and the cleanings must be more intensive than before, probably requiring an inspection before the next run can begin. If those cleanings require, say, 60 minutes to do the job properly, that’s a full-time job for one person to clean one bus per day. If the cleanings can be done, safely, in 30 minutes per day, that’s still 240,000 new jobs for people who clean buses. It also messes with school schedules (which will probably be revamped anyway), and with 8-hour driver shifts (which will result in greater expense). If we pay each cleaning person $20 per hour (because the work is hazardous and because the lives of our children are at stake), and they work for 30 hours per week (4 days x 6 hours, plus organizational chores), that’s $600 per week, plus (I hope) 25% taxes and benefits, for a total of $750 per week for, say, 40 weeks in the school year, multiplied by 240,000 people. The annual expense would be $7.2 billion in the U.S.

If we really do need twice as many school buses, and a good used bus costs about $40K, that’s 450,000 buses x $40K, or $18,000,000,000 ($18 billion, a capital investment in 10-15 years of service). We also need twice as many drivers, at perhaps $50K per year per driver including taxes and benefits, or $22,500,000,000 ($22.5 billion annually). And we haven’t yet budgeted for fuel and maintenance.

In many countries, students travel to school on public buses and trains. Daily schedules are enhanced during to-from school hours. These vehicles would require a similar regimen, made more complicated by the lack of control—it’s not only students who travel these routes, but it’s also adults who may be less likely to submit to rigid rules.

Are people in the U.S. prepared to spend $50 billion within the next 12 months for safety in school busing? Even though the benefit is provided to half (or perhaps a third) of school children? Even if my numbers are wildly incorrect—and I hope you will offer corrections in the comments box below—they may be indicative of a broader scope of thinking about school economics.

Why focus on school buses? In the U.S., school transportation seems to account for about 5% of budgets, and it’s likely to increase. I suspect there is a similar line of thinking to be applied to teachers and to support personnel. For teachers, a Monday-Wednesday / Tuesday-Thursday split schedule might result in no additional effort (seems unlikely, but let’s go with that assumption), but the students working at home on those alternate days will require support. Ideally, there would be teachers in the classroom and teachers available to assist with home instruction, or, at least support staff. If we take the time to run the numbers—an exercise many districts and government agencies are beginning to pursue—it seems likely that Randi Weingarten’s initial estimate of a 20-25% increase would be correct.

For districts and government agencies who believe that this is the time for cutting school budgets, there is rethinking to be done. And reinvention.

--Howard Blumenthal 

PHOTO CREDIT: Greg Gjerdingen - Flickr: Blue Bird School Bus - Creative Commons license

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I'm pleased to announce a new LearningRevolution.com weekly interview series, "REINVENTING.SCHOOL," being held live on Thursdays at 4:00 pm US-EDT and hosted by Howard Blumenthal. Howard's guests this week are Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, former Obama White House Health Policy Adviser, and Vice Provost of Global Initiatives, University of Pennsylvania.

ABOUT HOWARD:

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Howard Blumenthal created and produced the PBS television series, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? He is currently a Senior Scholar at The University of Pennsylvania, studying learning and the lives of 21st-century children and teenagers. He travels the world, visiting K-12 schools, lecturing at universities, and interviewing young people for Kids on Earth, a global platform containing nearly 1,000 interview segments from Kentucky, Brazil, Sweden, India, and many other countries. Previously, he was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, and United Features. He is the author of 24 books and several hundred articles about technology, learning, business, and human progress. As an executive, Howard was the CEO of a public television operation and several television production companies, and a state government official. Previously, he was a Senior Vice President for divisions of two large media companies, Hearst and Bertelsmann, and a consultant or project lead for Energizer, General Electric, American Express, CompuServe, Warner Communications, Merriam-Webster, Atari and other companies.

THIS WEEK'S GUESTS:

randi.jpeg Randi Weingarten is president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other healthcare professionals; local, state and federal government employees; and early childhood educators. The AFT champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for students, their families and communities. The AFT and its members advance these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through members’ work.

Z%2BEmanuel%2Bheadshot.pngEzekiel J. Emanuel is the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor, and Co-Director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. From January 2009 to January 2011, Dr. Emanuel served as a Special Advisor on Health Policy to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council.  Prior to that he was the founding chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health from 1997 to August of 2011. Dr. Emanuel received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in political philosophy from Harvard University. He has published over 300 articles mainly on health care reform, research ethics, and end of life care.  He has also authored or edited 15 books. He is working on a book entitled Which Country Has the World’s Best Health Care? Dr. Emanuel is the most widely cited bioethicist in history.<

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Sonja Brookins Santelises is the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools. Previously, she served as the vice president for K-12 policy and practice at The Education Trust, providing strategic direction for the organization’s K-12 research, practice, and policy work. Before joining The Education Trust, Sonja was the chief academic officer for Baltimore City Public Schools. Sonja came to Baltimore City Schools from Boston, where she served as assistant superintendent for pilot schools and assistant superintendent for teaching and learning/professional development.

Sonja began her career in education as director of professional development and teacher placement with Teach for America, New York, followed by stints at a year-round school in Brooklyn where she was a founder, teacher, and curriculum specialist. She holds a bachelor of arts from Brown University, a master of arts in education administration from Columbia University, and a doctor of education in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard.

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Welcome to Reinventing.School

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By my count, roughly one in three of earth’s 7.8 billion people are children or teenagers, and roughly half of them are enrolled in school. Enrollment, attendance, and completion rates continue to increase, but an almost unimaginable change has occurred. Now, more than a billion young people, and a hundred million teachers and other professionals, must think differently about learning, school, and education.

This is a problem for every individual student and family, for communities and schools and school districts, for colleges and universities, and for the public good. Reinvention must occur in real-time, in the midst of an international economic mess, with deep unknowns about public health, safety, and our pandemic future.

We cannot stop in order to develop, test, and perfect a plan. We must continue to provide an education to well over a billion people, and we cannot rely upon parents, grandparents, and siblings to carry much of the load. There is no single solution because every student is unique, and available resources vary widely. And yet, we must make it work. Every stakeholder must develop his, her, or their own solution.

Reinventing.School provides a structure, a means to think clearly and see the big picture. It is a place where experts gather to address real-world plans, timelines, and possible solutions to extraordinarily challenging problems. It is a new weekly web television series, live on Zoom Thursdays at 4 PM (eastern time), available on-demand a day later on Vimeo and YouTube.

We’ve started this blog to provide information about every Reinventing.School episode, every guest, related links to books and articles and other videos, and occasional written commentary. This is our web headquarters for Reinventing.School, and we hope you will find it useful.

It’s exciting to begin this new adventure. Thank you for joining us on the journey. Please tell your family, friends, and colleagues that a new game has begun and that our intended outcome is a big win for every student on earth.

-Howard

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ABOUT THE SHOW

Before the virus, more than a billion children and teenagers relied upon school for learning. After the virus (or, after the current wave of our current virus), basic assumptions about school and education are no longer reliable. School buildings may become unsafe for large numbers of students. The tax base may no longer support our current approach to school. Without the interaction provided by a formal school structure, students may follow their own curiosity. Many students now possess the technology to learn on their own. And many do not.

Reinventing.school is a new weekly web television series that considers what happens next week, next month, next school year, and the next five years. Hosted by University of Pennsylvania Senior Scholar Howard Blumenthal, Reinventing.school features interviews with teachers, principals, school district leadership, state and Federal government officials, ed-tech innovators, students, leading education professors, authors, realists and futurists from the United States and all over the world.

Each episode features 2-4 distinguished guests in conversation about high priority topics including, for example, the teaching of public health, long-term home schooling, technology access and its alternatives, the role of parents, friendship and social interaction, learning outside the curriculum, the future of testing and evaluation, interruption as part of the academic calendar, job security for teachers and support staff, setting (and rethinking) curriculum priorities, special needs, student perspectives on the job of school, the importance of play, the psychology of group dynamics and social interaction, preparing for future rounds of a virus (or cyberattack or impact of climate change, etc.), college readiness, higher education transformed, the higher education promise in an economically challenged world, and more. Clearly, there is much to discuss; nearly all of it ranks high on the list of priorities for raising the world’s children.