ON-Lion Letter

"At the beginning of the 2015 school year, approximately 50 million children were enrolled in our nation's public schools.  Another 5 million attended private schools, while others were educated at home or through a blended learning model," begins a January post by Gerard Robinson on the website of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, D.C.  "By June 2026, a girl enrolled in the first grade today will graduate from high school.  What kind of America will she inherit?  Will our economy be strong enough to support her ambition to become an entrepreneur?  Will government and the constitution remain intact for her to freely exercise her rights and liberties?  Will the education she received make her prepared to keep pace with our world's rapid growth in technology and knowledge?  I hope so.

"Hope is, however, hollow without a strategy to create the future we want for our children and families," he continues.  "The first step toward creating this strategy starts with a dialogue about destiny."

Robinson is a resident fellow in education policy studies at AEI.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports AEI, including its work on education policy.

Robinson is launching AEI's "Education & Civil Society" blog series "to begin a dialogue about the future of American society and the role education plays in it.  Civil society is a phrase rarely used in conversations about public policy or American life today.

"Regardless of the challenges, America is an experiment of ideas," Robinson writes.  "To advance this experiment, I believe it is only fitting to create a forum about American destiny and how education, joined with a civil society approach, can help determine our future.

"If we want a healthy civil society, our systems of education must play a critical role," according to Robinson.  "However, what matters even more is that a civil society approach requires all-hands-on-deck.  Let's face it:  schools alone cannot, nor should we expect them to, bear the exclusive responsibility of educating children.  Schools should not replace the role of parents and their responsibilities, nor should government be the sole voice for determining school policies.  Rather, a diverse set of professionals, philanthropists, philosophers and others must partner with our schools to advocate for a healthy civil society.  We must simultaneously support innovators who are creating learning environments that might not yet exist today."

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