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Urban Schools Group, Media Company Unite for Forum

In an example of how the state of urban education is gaining interest among a wide group of people not usually considered education "players," USA Today and the Council of the Great City Schools joined recently to sponsor an all-day conference on big city districts.

The Unite to Make a Difference Education forum, held on March 18, featured panels with superintendents speaking on several topics, including challenges for districts and how to gain support of the business community and the media. Quite a few business heavyweights were in attendance, including representatives from Best Buy, Capital One Finance Corp., Microsoft and Bechtel. Alma Powell, who leads the America's Promise Alliance with her husband retired General Colin Powell, was the keynote speaker.

Michael Casserly, the executive director of the council, said that he hopes to make the forum an annual event. It was also a way to steer business and the media away from thinking of urban education as being in constant crisis.

"Urban educators are ready to improve education in the cites. They're not sitting around waiting for someone else," Casserly said. One example of how urban schools are examining their own practices is through a research partnership designed to bring new curriculum tools to middle and high school teachers. My colleague Sarah Sparks wrote earlier this month about the partnership.

The entire forum can be found online here.

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