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Dr. Frank Newman: Sachs Lecturer and More

Dr. Frank Newman, former President of the Education Commission of the States (ECS) since 1985, will be the Julius and Rosa Sachs Lecturer for the 1999-2000 academic year. Newman calls the lectures a "golden opportunity" to talk about issues of policy and education, which, he says, "are the central issues for the United States."

The lectures are named after Professor Julius Sachs, who was appointed as professor of secondary education in 1902 and in 1924, in honor of his 50th wedding anniversary to Rosa Goldman Sachs, he endowed a series of lectures by eminent educators.

Newman is most widely known for the "Newman Reports" (Report on Higher Education, 1971, and National Policy and Higher Education, 1974). These reports were developed while Dr. Newman chaired two task forces established by the secretaries of a nationwide interstate compact formed in 1965 to assist governors, state legislators, state education officials and others to develop policies to improve the quality of education.

Newman has a diverse background in education administration, higher education and policy formation.

From 1974-83, he served as president of the University of Rhode Island. In 1983, Dr. Newman became a Presidential Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Two years later, he published the report, Higher Education and the American Resurgence for Carnegie.

During the Sachs Lectures slated for October 12, 27, and November 18, Newman says, "I want to explore three major policy issues, about which there has been much discussion, but also a lot of misinformation. All three focus on what it is that society really needs from education." They are: social mobility, affirmative action, and civic responsibility.

The first lecture will focus on social mobility in contemporary society and the required skills that people need as they enter the workforce. Newman will point out that "success" in the workforce depends less on the mastery of technical skills but rather on the capacity to use technology and the "ability to think and create."

Newman's second presentation- affirmative action-is closely related to his first Sachs Lecture.

"What we have is a rising debate going on. But it's a very narrow and focused debate about whether or not affirmative action regulations are illegal, unconstitutional, and inappropriate. What really needs to be done is an urgent reexamination and debate on the question of education and social mobility. We're not getting that debate. We're having an ideological standoff," he says.

"What it comes down to is that people want universities and the government to figure out ways to help."

The third lecture will involve the issue of civic engagement in our changing times. "One of the things that's been little noticed in our society," says Newman, "is that while American life is getting better, our involvement in the democratic process is getting worse." According to Newman, the public is cynical about civic institutions. "People aren't voting. They don't believe in the Congress, state legislatures or school boards, and the education system isn't paying attention to this," says Newman.

Newman will raise the question of whether the "school experience, particularly the college experience, trains you, teaches you, engages you in a way that you become an effective citizen."

Along with work as the Sachs Lecturer, Newman will be busy teaching a course, "Education and the States," in the Department of Organization and Leadership and will be chairing the Board of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, which has been recently established by Professor Henry Levin. He also intends to play a role in developing new leaders for the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). This initiative, which is co-sponsored by TC's Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation and the Institute for Educational Leadership, located in Washington, D.C., will assist new leaders to: develop their "leadership voice"; use their abilities to influence federal, state, and local policy development; and create a network of state and national policy makers. Newman, who is also a visiting Professor of Public Policy and American Institutions at Brown University, will also be doing a three-year study on the transformation of higher education through a grant he received from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Speaking about one of his favorite topics, Newman explains, "While higher education is somewhat reluctant to change, there are forces-whether technology, for-profit firms, governors and their legislators, demographics, and the marketplace-that are having a huge impact.""The question is how do you create a policy system-a new one-to steer that change?"

Newman, who describes his fourteen years at ECS as "life-changing," calls his academic year at TC, a time "to deal with a set of the most important questions concerning this country."

"I'm at a point where I've spent a lot of time running around doing things that people think are important. But now I have a real opportunity to think about and be engaged in the issues that are important-policy and education.

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