The Atlantic Rim Collaboratory holds its inaugural summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, on September 14 and 15, when representatives of eight leading educational agencies and international experts will launch the international initiative to improve elementary and secondary education systems throughout the world.

ARC is a public-private collaboration that has been established by Boston College Professor of Education Andrew Hargreaves, in partnership with Yngve Lindvig, chief research and development officer at Conexus Norway, Tore Skandsen of The IMTEC Foundation, and Iceland Minister of Education and Culture Illugi Gunnarsson.

The eight system representatives include the Ministries of Education of Scotland, Iceland, Ireland, Finland, Aruba and the Canadian Province of Ontario, the Office of the Secretary of Education in Vermont, and the California Board of Education. The eight systems were chosen because of their shared commitment to common values of educational excellence, equity, inclusion, wellness, democracy and human rights.

Each system has been recognized for successfully implementing policies and reforms that reflect these shared values and for their willingness to share and adopt evidence-based best practices that foster professionally run educational systems that prepare students for life in the 21st century.

The world is facing significant challenges to its public education systems. Shortfalls of achievement among key groups who live in poverty or who are members of racial and ethnic minorities, the mixed blessings of digital technologies and online behavior, extensive economic stagnation and restricted social mobility, and one of the largest global refugee crises in history are stretching the imagination and capabilities of educational policy makers to the limit.

Educators are eager not just to respond but to do so in ways that are effective. This summit brings together eight systems from the North Atlantic Rim region along with a range of international experts to approach these issues from a shared value system that encompasses increasing equity and excellence of many kinds, promoting inclusion of students with many different needs and identities, enhancing wellbeing in mental, emotional and physical health, and developing citizens who understand and are committed to democracy and human rights. All of them also put a prime emphasis on the importance of having quality educators working in professionally run educational systems that can deliver the right results for ambitious and effective teaching and learning in rapidly changing societies.

The experts and thought leaders who will stimulate dialogue and respond to ideas and proposals among these systems comprise creativity guru Sir Ken Robinson, American Educational Research Association (AERA) President Jeannie Oakes, Colombia's Escuela Nueva Director and $500,000 WISE Award winner Vicky Colbert, Singapore National Institute of Education's Pak Tee Ng, Finnish education policy expert and prize-winning author Pasi Sahlberg and Steve Munby, CEO of Britain's Education Development Trust, and former CEO of England's National College for School Leadership.

The summit has embraced the spirit of the 30th anniversary of the meeting in Iceland between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

"One of the founding ideas behind Atlantic Rim is to tear down the walls between countries and regions, as well as between educational researchers and politicians, in order to pursue the most fundamental ideas of what it means to be educated in today's world for the mutual benefit of all ARC systems and future generations of students worldwide," said Hargreaves, the Brennan Professor of Education at BC’s Lynch School of Education.

One of ARC’s goals is to establish a global movement of educational systems that shares ways of working, tools for learning, methods of leading and teaching and that engages in rigorous peer review of each other’s ideas and systems.

"California can benefit from exploring education improvement strategies similar to ours in other countries," said California Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst, professor emeritus at Stanford University. "This meeting should be very useful for our continuous improvement efforts."

ARC will work in a way that complements the international initiatives of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations, by exercising its ability to advance a vision of educational excellence that embraces issues such as special education inclusion, many kinds of diversity, and wellness supports within systems that build and promote a strong and sustainable teaching profession.

For more information, about the Atlantic Rim Collaboratory and its inaugural summit, please visit the Atlantic Rim Collaboratory website.

—Ed Hayward | News & Public Affairs