Building the Perfect Teacher

Solving the nation's education challenges has proved enormously difficult. But researchers are coming to a consensus that the teacher at the front of the classroom is more important that any other factor. And improving the teaching corps has become a central focus of education reform.

With that as backdrop, an interesting initiative out of the Rhode Island Foundation and NPR affiliate WRNI. From the press release:

Today, The Rhode Island Foundation and WRNI, Rhode Island’s NPR station, announced a project to provide in-depth information on community issues to Rhode Islanders. Thanks to a two-year, $100,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced earlier this year, Rhode Island Community Forums will highlight several major issues affecting the future of our state and provide opportunities for citizens to engage with each other through live public forums, radio broadcasts, and a new website, The Knight Community Information Challenge helps community and place-based foundations support news and information projects that inform and engage residents.
The first forum, What Makes a Great Teacher? is scheduled for Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm at The Rhode Island Foundation. Panelists include: Deborah Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education; Heather Tow-Yick, Executive Director of Teach For America in Rhode Island; Richard Rothstein, research associate, Economic Policy Institute; and Deloris Grant, English and Drama teacher at Central Falls High School. WRNI education reporter Elisabeth Harrison will moderate.  The forum is free and open to the public.

“Engaged Rhode Islanders become involved Rhode Islanders,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of The Rhode Island Foundation. “The Knight project is designed to offer a balance of perspectives on critical issues through a variety of media, allowing for debate, dialogue, and ultimately, the development of creative solutions to our greatest challenges.”
“We’re delighted to partner with The Rhode Island Foundation on this initiative, spurred on by the Knight Foundation Community Information Challenge,” said Joe O’Connor, WRNI General Manager. “WRNI is committed to providing Rhode Islanders with quality journalism and compelling storytelling that informs, educates and inspires community.”

During the next year, Rhode Island Community Forums will produce a series of public forums covering a range of topics that are central to the state’s quality of life: education, human services, community and economic development, health, the environment and the arts. Moderated by WRNI reporters, the public forums will feature local and regional subject experts. The forums will be broadcast at a later date on WRNI, and a dedicated web site,, will promote ongoing discussion and information exchange.


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