Every year Schools That Can (STC) conducts an annual Forum in a city where STC schools inhabit. In 2010 the STC Forum was held in Newark. What an appropriate location. Newark is a microcosm for the opportunities and challenges in education that every urban community is experiencing in our country.

On May 21 close to two hundred STC school leaders and leading education thought leaders gathered in Newark for discourse and exchange of ideas on urban education. The gathering provided an extraordinary opportunity for sharing, exchanging and learning at a critical time of change. The rooms were filled with a diverse representation of high-performing district, charter, independent and faith-based schools serving low-income communities nationwide.

The agenda included Conversations between David Steiner, Commissioner of Education in New York State and Norman Atkins, Founder of Uncommon Schools; Joel Klein, Chancellor of Schools, New York City and Sy Fliegel, President of CEI-PEA; John King, Deputy Commissioner New York State and Dana Lehman, Co-Director of Roxbury Prep. Then a Presentation by  Whitney Tilson, education reformer and KIPP Board Member. The Keynote Speaker was the Honorable Mayor Cory Booker.

Throughout the Forum there were numerous school leader Panels on timely topics. Examples included “Extended Learning Experiences and Results” or “Amazing Outcomes – How Do They Do It?” or “The Challenge of Being an Independent School”. These panels were filled with significant opportunities for learning from each other. Lots of take home value.

The outcome was very special. The speakers were brilliant in their wise views on education change taking place in our country. STC school leaders, without exception, gained a great deal of insight. Another take home value was the opportunity for school leaders to build collaborations for a quality education. In many of the cities present, clusters of schools discussed collaborations that could grow seats of quality education in their respective communities. Action plans to roll out by the Fall are shaping up in Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Newark, New York and Pittsburgh. Other cities such as Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington DC may take a little longer to roll out, but a great deal of momentum is building. It is an exciting development from the Forum.

In addition ten schools were recognized as new members and four as new emerging members of Schools That Can. Current candidates include four district schools from Boston and New York, all attending the Forum. Next years Forum was announced to take place in Cleveland, May 19-21, 2011. See you there!