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While Covid has wreaked havoc on students and schools and education, it has also spurred innovation and new energy for change — like turning the Cathedral of Learning into a giant antenna for free Wi-Fi for at-home students.

Gregg Behr, executive director of the Grable Foundation and co-chair of Remake Learning, thinks it’s time to consider establishing a statewide panel on learning innovation.

“Across Pennsylvania, our neighbors and colleagues have likewise seen educators, parents and young people themselves respond to the pandemic in brilliant, downright heroic ways, despite the unspeakable pain the past few months have wrought,” he wrote in

The panel could have a far-reaching impact, identifying what’s been working to help children learn.

“Comprised of top learning scientists from the state’s universities; educators and students from rural and urban districts; and leaders from creative industries like robotics and clean energy, the panel could forge a future that’s brighter and better than ’normal,’” says Behr. “With public backing and private support, it could even invest in research and pilot projects, positioning the state as a national leader and attracting new industries and jobs.”

Pittsburgh already has a model for this in Remake Learning, a network of more than 600 schools, museums and libraries and more, with partners ranging from robotics companies to hip-hop artists.

“A statewide panel could scale this approach across Pennsylvania, ensuring that innovations in Erie reach learners in Easton. Students in Bradford might learn from a teacher in Braddock; a project in New Castle might take root in New Hope,” says Behr.

“Nine months into a global catastrophe, the need to think big — ‘Cathedral of Learning’ big — is clearer than ever. A statewide panel on learning innovation would help us emerge from the pandemic a more resilient, innovative, family-friendly state.”

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Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.