Leading Experts to Tackle Effectiveness of Public Education at March 25 Mount Holyoke College Forum on The Economics of School Choice: Who Wins? Who Loses?

Achieving excellence and equality in education for everyone is a critical issue in the United States as we approach the twenty-first century. The brewing fight between Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and NYC Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew covered in a recent front page New York Timesarticle discussed the possibility of a New York City voucher system. How do we know if such voucher systems and charter schools are successfully solving education's problems? What are the economic effects of school choice? And does school choice create problems that didn't exist before?

The Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman Center for Leadership at Mount Holyoke has invited four prominent experts with differing points of view to debate the success and failures of school choice on Thursday, March 25 at 7:30 pm in Hooker Auditorium. The event is part of the center's spring focus on public education entitled Choices and Challenges for Public Education: Agenda for the 21st Century. It is free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible. The series began in early February with a keynote address by Jonathon Kozol, a leading education activist. On February 25, a panel debated bilingual education.

Moderated by Cecilia Rouse, associate professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, who has written extensively on issues involving all levels of education, the debate panel on March 25 concerning school choice will include:

  • Martin Carnoy, professor of economics and education at Stanford University, and coauthor of the upcoming book The Different Worlds of Urban and Suburban School Districts;
  • John Chubb, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and cofounder and executive vice president of the Edison Project, the country's leading private manager of public schools;
  • Annette Polly Williams, Wisconsin State Representative from Milwaukee, one of the first cities in the United States with a publicly funded voucher program; and
  • Beverly Parks Greenberg, Connecticut State Board of Education and a 1962 graduate of Mount Holyoke College.

"The series on public education is providing an important opportunity for educators, policy-makers, thinkers, and others interested in the future of our schools to grapple with one of the most pressing issues of our day," said Eva Paus, the series's director. "The center believes that active engagement with national and international challenges is not only a cornerstone of the education we provide Mount Holyoke students, but is also an opportunity to bring new ideas and insights to the public arena."

Following the symposium, two college events will delve further into the issues confronting public education. A film on April 6, Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary,will examine inner-city schools in Los Angeles. Following the screening there will be a discussion with Herbert Kohl, senior fellow at the Open Society Institute and author of 36 Childrenand The Discipline of Hope.Kohl will finish the series on April 7 at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, by reading from The Discipline of Hope,his latest work.

For more information regarding this event and the Weissman Center for Leadership call the center at 413-538-3010 or check the center's web page.