November 5, 2015


Restoring Opportunity: Perils and Promises for Education

 Public Agenda president Will Friedman, moderator Brian Lehrer, Wendy Puriefoy and Alison Kadlec. Tuesday, October 27, 2015.
Education has long been held as the best means for all people to get ahead and have a good life. Yet as a nation, we haven't always enabled our education system to fulfill its promise as a great opportunity equalizer. In the future, fulfilling this promise will be even more challenging, though we have reason for cautious optimism. 

In a discussion last month with WNYC's Brian Lehrer, education experts Wendy Puriefoy and Alison Kadlec spoke frankly about the historic challenges that the public K-12 and higher education systems face, including dwindling funding and an unpredictable future.

Both noted that, when it comes to putting the ideal of a high quality education for all into practice, the nation is failing miserably on its promise to deliver a quality education to all students.
Yet despite the temptation of easy answers and a lack of engagement from the public on education challenges, both spoke of some promising developments and shifts in attitude.

For example, early-childhood education has become a critical political issue in cities and states across the country. Colleges are addressing issues of broken college transfer practices and remedial education. And regional universities are taking a lot of responsibility for growth of the local economy. There is also bipartisan consensus that investments should be made to responsibly test new education practices
Despite the weight of the challenges before us, the event ended on an optimistic note from Puriefoy. "This is a moral question, a question of the future, of this great idea we had of democracy," she said. Through education, "we need to prepare for a world that we have not lived in before, but it doesn't have to be a world of struggle. It can be a world of joy."

Read more about the event on our blog here

Restoring Opportunity: The Role of Education is a part of our Restoring Opportunity Initiative, a ten-year commitment by Public Agenda to help address stagnating opportunity in the U.S. Read more about the initiative here

Join Us! Wednesday Nov 18th to discuss WNYC/Public Agenda Survey

Join us in person again on Nov 18th with Brian Lehrer for a conversation about the findings of our WNYC/Public Agenda survey . We'll discuss how to best address the worries and concerns of residents of the New York metro region, how policymakers should respond to the results and how residents and neighbors should be involved.

We'll also be announcing the 2016 Deborah Wadsworth Fund Project, which will engage residents on one of the most urgent concerns they voiced in the survey. Hint: it has to do with affordability.

We'd love to see you there. RSVP to Mattie Bennett Caswell at soon to reserve your spot!

PA in the News

Coverage of the WNYC/Public Agenda survey. See the five-day programming The Brian Lehrer Show had of the survey here


(Metro New York)


Coverage of other Public Agenda work

(Harvard Business Review)
After setting the scene of how consumers are currently shopping for health care, Dr. Kullgren writes that he is "optimistic that we can help more consumers use price information routinely and effectively." What follows are steps that health systems, employers and gov agencies can take to make it happen.  

(Educause Review)
Competency-based education is sometimes stymied by lack of software support, but this article points out evidence of positive action underway to improve, especially by the Technical Interoperability Pilot project from C-BEN.   

A series of new issue papers from Lumina Foundation (Politico Morning Education Newsletter)
Alison Kadlec authored one of the 13 papers to be published by Lumina Foundation. This one is about how we need to engage stakeholders before making efforts to align funding to student outcomes.


Public Agenda is a nonprofit organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues. Through nonpartisan research and engagement, it provides people with the insights and support they need to arrive at workable solutions on critical issues, regardless of their differences. Since 1975, Public Agenda has helped foster progress on K-12 and higher education reform, health care, federal and local budgets, energy and immigration. Find Public Agenda online at

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