Newspaper article

PIE Conference Bubbles with Ideas to Improve Schools

Newspaper article

PIE Conference Bubbles with Ideas to Improve Schools

Article excerpt

Having written about education in the Twin Cities for a decade- plus, Your Humble Blogger thought she knew a thing or two. I knew, for instance, that Mike Petrilli is executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education-research organization.

He is also the executive editor of EducationNext, an associated, respected magazine which, full disclosure, gave me a very fun freelance assignment several years ago.

But when Petrilli showed up in my Twitter feed Wednesday, I was mystified. "Am working from a @dunnbroscoffees in Chaska, MN, in the middle of @repjohnkline country, before heading to the #piesummit12" he tweeted. "LOVE IT!"

Color me out of the loop. The PIE in #piesummit12 stands for Policy Innovators in Education, a nonpartisan network of 37 member groups involved in education reform in 26 states and the District of Colombia. PIE's headquarters is located in Minneapolis.

And the Summit '12 part is the group's sixth annual conference, a meeting of the Who's Who of the reform movement which began Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis and wraps up this afternoon. I arranged to crash the party, where I got to put faces to a number of familiar names.

MinnCAN, an advocacy group working to promote education reform here, is PIE's lone local member to date, although representatives from a number of Minnesota groups were present. The Minneapolis Foundation is one of the confab's sponsors.

As a topic, education reform is inherently political -- often divisively so. Yet if you ever needed to demonstrate that its advocates span the political spectrum, the summit roster could serve as Exhibit No. 1. Many of the 200 advocates and policymakers in attendance defy categorization.

Petrilli, for example, was probably the ranking conservative on a panel I attended Thursday entitled "Doing More With Less." At the other end of the political spectrum was the Center on American Progress' Cindy Brown. Between them sat Marguerite Roza of the independent Center on Reinventing Public Education, a heavy-duty data analysis effort located at the University of Washington. …

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