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"[T]he purpose of the summit is to highlight the lack of educational options facing low-income urban students. And we're going to bring together educators and clergy and philanthropists and business leaders, all aiming to urge there to be reasonable legislation out of Congress and practical solutions to save these schools and more importantly, to save the children."
President George W. Bush, 4/18/08
The White House Summit on inner-city children and faith-based schools will highlight the need to preserve the critically important educational alternatives for underserved students attending chronically underperforming schools. In his 2008 State of the Union Address, President Bush announced this summit as an opportunity to help increase awareness of the challenges faced by low-income students in the inner cities and address the role of non-public schools, including faith-based schools, in meeting the needs of low-income inner city students.
Panel I: Faith-Based Schools And The Common Good
Moderated by Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Karl Zinsmeister, Panel I will highlight the impact faith-based urban schools have had in the education of youth in America's inner cities. For generations, America's faith-based urban schools have served many of this Nation's most disadvantaged students, including the children of recent immigrants and low-income minority families. Relying on contributions from families and donors instead of government aid, these schools have played an important role in the American story of upward mobility, educational opportunity, and civil rights.
Panel II: Practical Realities On The Ground
Moderated by White House Faith-based and Community Initiatives Director Jay Hein, Panel II will focus on the challenges increasingly facing faith-based urban schools. Faith-based urban schools have changed countless young lives for the better, providing students with the academic skills and moral grounding needed to succeed throughout life. Their contributions to families and communities are immeasurable. Tragically, however, these schools, due to a wide array of financial challenges, are under mounting pressure, forcing thousands to close their doors with potentially many more to follow suit.
Lunch Plenary: Educational Options And America's Cities
Moderated by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, the lunch plenary will focus on the positive influence high-quality school choices have had on American communities. In addition to their value to students and families, faith-based schools and other public school alternatives contribute to America's cities more broadly. Safe, academically rigorous schools have a positive influence on community stability, employment, crime, and much more. Protecting such schools is in the interest of the citizens and leaders of neighborhoods, cities, States, and the Nation.
Panel III: Community Solutions
Moderated by Scott Hamilton, Panel III will focus on community solutions to keep faith-based urban schools strong. Despite the significant challenges it faces, this sector of K-12 education has numerous good-news stories that demonstrate that with energetic leadership, creativity, and commitment, faith-based urban schools can continue to thrive for generations to come.
Panel IV: Public Policy Options
Moderated by Ray Simon, Panel IV will discuss innovative public policies that help under-served communities. Government leaders have developed public policies that provide educational opportunities to disadvantaged children, including at faith-based schools that follow the Federal Government's and State Governments' constitutional and statutory rules governing the separation of church and state.
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