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Where Interfaith Service and Remaking Education Connect

Michael Robbins from the Faith-Neighborhood Center at the U.S. Department of Educations provides highlights from Secretary Duncan’s remarks on the intersection of interfaith service and remaking American education.

Last week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered a keynote speech and participated in a panel discussion about community-based organizations and education reform in New York City on June 30.  The forum was part of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the world's largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders from the nonprofit, government and corporate sectors.  The forum was spearheaded by the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Secretary Duncan urged service and volunteer program leaders from across the country to partner with schools to help remake American education.  He highlighted four areas where these programs can make critical contributions: 

  1. increasing learning time for students,
  2. engaging parents,
  3. recruiting and supporting teachers, and
  4. targeting their efforts to help turn around the nation’s lowest-performing schools.

The panel discussion was moderated by Wall Street Journal Education Reporter Stephanie Banchero and participants also included Chancellor of New York City Department of Education Joel Klein, Director of America Reads Mississippi Ronjanett Taylor, Chairman and Senior Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP Bob Moritz, and Vice President of Worldwide Education Anthony Salcito. Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Patrick Corvington delivered closing remarks.

For me, this was a tremendous opportunity to spotlight how partnerships between community-based organizations and schools are an essential component of the Obama administration’s education reform agenda.  Our plans in the blueprint for reforming the Elementary and Secondary Education Act  will strengthen the support and engagement of community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based.

This event in New York City was just the beginning of cooperation between the Department of Education, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships on this issue.  Looking ahead, all our offices plan to work together to promote even more opportunities and avenues for successful partnerships that have an impact in the areas the Secretary highlighted. 

Michael Robbins serves at the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education