Come to Boston and make history. That was the mantra of NCSL's 2007 Legislative Summit. And attendees did both in grand fashion.
More than 9,000 people--a record for an NCSL meeting--came to Boston to participate in the largest gathering of the year for state policymakers. More than 1,700 state legislators from all 50 states were on hand to hear from and share ideas with the nation's public policy leaders.
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi thanked state legislators for their part in making history. "Today I come to thank you for your leadership and work on these events of the past week to defend our country, grow our economy, strengthen our families, protect our planet and restore accountability," Pelosi said during the annual NCSL business meeting.
State legislators, legislative staff and policy experts attended more than 200 policy sessions over five days. Discussions were held on current concerns such as the State Children's Health Program, the Real ID Act, legislative ethics and crisis preparedness.
David McCullough, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian and author, told legislators the key to our future lies in teaching our children about the past. McCullough believes the only way to prevent our children from being "historically illiterate" is by doing a better job teaching our teachers.
"Our teachers are the most important members of our society. I don't think anyone is doing more important work than our teachers." McCullough said.
McCullough advised lawmakers to focus resources on children in the third through sixth fades when "it's not yet cool to be dumb," and to use textbooks that are less "dreary and boring."
Colleges and universities should look to the business community for answers and inspiration as they strive to meet America's needs in this global economy. That's what a panel of national higher education experts told NCSL's Legislative Summit attendees at the opening general session moderated by Jim Hunt, former governor of North Carolina.
University of Colorado President Hank Brown, Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and Phyllis Eisen, a senior vice president at the National Association of Manufacturers, worried that as baby boomers retire, their replacements won't be adequately prepared to take their place.
"We don't need people with pieces of paper and degrees," Eisen said. "We need people who think differently. We need people who are flexible, agile and know how to learn and move from discipline to discipline. This agility and flexibility are what we're not seeing."
State legislators also heard from Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff on the Real ID Act. "There will be some state responsibility," he...