'Don't Reform Education: Transform It!' An Interview with Gisele Huff

column | EdSurge Podcast

'Don't Reform Education: Transform It!' An Interview with Gisele Huff

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist) and Michael Winters     Sep 30, 2015

'Don't Reform Education: Transform It!' An Interview with Gisele Huff

Of all the people who show up at education technology conferences and confabs, none is as distinctive as Dr. Gisèle Huff, executive director of the Jaquelin Hume Foundation in San Francisco. Huff has long been a fearless advocate for students and education reform.

In this interview with EdSurge CEO Betsy Corcoran, Huff describes her early roots in education both in Nazi-occupied France and then the Bronx, her passion for philanthropy--not charity--and her support of blended learning.

Most recently, Huff has been a player behind the emergence of an effort called Education Reimagined, which is being led by the Washington, DC-based organization, the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution. Education Reimagined this week introduced a vision for "learner-centered education." (Convergence itself started in 2009 and aims to “promote consensus solutions,” on issues as varied as nutrition, US-Pakistan relations and now, K-12 education.)

A paper outlining the vision of Education Reimagined asserts that education aims to "...enable all children to fulfill their full potential as empowered individuals, constructive members of their communities, productive participants in the economy, and engaged citizens of the US and the world.”

The team "hopes people will see beyond the constraints of the current system and what it could be if it wasn’t what we inherited," says Kelly Young, director of the project.

The project began in 2013 with a group of 28 people with diverse backgrounds and concerns in education and and later expanded to include more than 110. Among them: Randi Weingarten of the AFT, Lily Eskelsen, President of the National Education Association and industry leaders including Stephen Turnipseed, president emeritus of LEGO Education, Lizabeth Fogel, director of education at Disney, as well as a number of education leaders including teachers, principals, charter school leaders and others. Here's a list of the "vision signatories."

"We're committed to connecting and convening pioneers, of accelerating the growth of learner centered education," Young says.

The organization begins with a website, a collection of stories of education pioneers. How the different leaders will find compromises to make possible a more learner-centric future isn't yet clear. The program has an operating budget of just under $1 million and plans to launch a more detailed website next January, as well as more live gatherings.

Here's how Huff describes her background--and her hopes for education.

EdSurge Extra with Gisele Huff

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