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Educator Harold Levy, Times Pulitzer winner Sheryl WuDunn, stellar Cornell faculty tackle key issues at New York City speaker series

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- One issue that provokes opposing views in this year's election battles is how to improve U.S. public schools. On Feb. 12, Harold O. Levy, former New York City schools chancellor, will tackle the controversial subjects of testing, performance and school attendance in "Helping our Children Learn: Critical Issues in Public Education", a talk in New York City.

Levy, who holds undergraduate and law degrees from Cornell University (B.S '74, J.D. '79), headlines the first of four Cornell lectures in the city. Sponsored by the university's School of Industrial and Labor Relations' Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS), the Workplace Colloquium series takes place at the Cornell Club, 6 E. 44th Street (between Madison and Fifth avenues).

Another speaker in the series, on May 12, is Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Sheryl WuDunn, Cornell class of 1981, an authority on China and the Far East.

The "thought-provoking forums bring together academics, practitioners, policy-makers and students to explore the issues of the day," said Samuel Bacharach, IWS director and McKelvey-Grant Professor at Cornell's ILR School, who started the series in 1999. This spring's lectures are named for ILR professor emeritus Milton Konvitz, an authority on civil and human rights and constitutional and labor law, who died this past year. "In a tribute to the intellectual spirit that Milton embodied, the series features prominent Cornell faculty and alumni from a broad range of disciplines," said Bacharach.

In addition to Levy's Feb. 12 talk, the IWS spring 2004 speaker series is as follows:

March 11, "Does Rising Inequality Harm the Middle Class?" Robert H. Frank, the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Economics at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management. Frank, whose op-ed pieces are frequently seen in The New York Times, is the author of Luxury Fever and co- author of The Winner-Take-All Society. He will discuss the growing income gap in U.S. society, including how changes in spending patterns impose psychological as well as economic costs on middle-class families. April 15, "A New Realism or a Health Care Logjam: What is Going in at the Bargaining Table?" a panel discussion moderated by Harry Katz, the Jack Sheinkman Professor of Collective Bargaining at the ILR School. A recent guest on the "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" he is the author of Converging Divergences: Worldwide Changes in Employment Systems and other books on changes in industrial and labor relations. The panel -- representatives from labor and management -- will look at collective bargaining trends and recent settlements at Verizon, the Big-Three automakers and General Electric. Panelists include Jack Navarro, vice president, labor relations, Verizon Communications, and Steve Sleigh, director of strategic resources, IAM (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers).

May 13, "Thunder From the East: A luncheon with Sheryl WuDunn. WuDunn, who won a Pulitzer Prize with her husband, Nicholas Kristof, for coverage of China's democracy movement and its suppression in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. She and Kristof also co-wrote Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia and China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power . She will discuss the growing influence of China and the new dynamics it creates on the global stage.

The series is open to all but is limited to about 25 people. A fee of $45 covers drinks and dinner. To reserve a place, call (212) 340-7931, send e-mail to iwsnyc@cornell.edu or kb41@cornell.edu or register online at http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/iws , which also includes details on the series. All talks take place at 6:30 p.m., except WuDunn's, which begins at noon.

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