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A Conversation with Norman B. Rice


A dramatic shift in civic involvement in the education of the country’s children is imperative but achievable, said one of the nation’s foremost public leaders and member of the White House’s Council for Community Solutions.

Norman B. Rice, former mayor of Seattle and current President of the nationally-prominent Seattle Foundation, told Martin Blank, President of the Institute for Educational Leadership and Director of Coalition for Community Schools that only a culture of inclusion and participation from every branch of the community will push public education out of the malaise in which it’s currently tangled.

"The nexus of involvement and engagement is really about schools and communities, because people make all the choices about their lives in the context of family, school and community. And if they're not linked together, if people cannot see them in a comprehensive way, you will lose what I consider to be the essence of community development and the spirit of the city," Rice told Blank during their conversation at the 2011 Seattle Community Schools Learning Lab.

Even with its Seattle’s culture of private and public responsibility in the city educational system, results, particularly for minorities, have been slow, Rice said. The number of African American and Hispanic students in Seattle is predicted to continue to increase exponentially in the coming decade but the drop out and late-graduation rates of those students continue to lag. Rice agreed that a renewal of civic conscientiousness is essential in Seattle and other places as well, if we to stop losing children.

"The sense of community, and the re-creation of community, is what I think everybody desires. But we haven't been able to do it. People have compartmentalized themselves so much that they see one part of a person or community not the whole," he said. "What we have to do is create a collaborative that will create a place where parents and families could say, ‘I'm going there and I know what I can do. It's here for my child, it's here for me, it's here for me to engage, and it’s here for me to grow."

Click here to read the interview.

A Conversation with Norman B. Rice Norman B. Rice, President, Seattle Foundation
Photo by: Seattle Foundation
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