Sun Valley talks national service, education

SUN VALLEY, Idaho, July 10 Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:37pm EDT

SUN VALLEY, Idaho, July 10 (Reuters) - Media and technology CEOs and investors get together every year at the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley for a week of mingling and deal-making at the upscale Idaho mountain resort.

But not all is takeover talk.

This year, one of the more-debated topics was retired General Stanley McChrystal's push for a national service program for American teens, according to one prominent Sun Valley regular who sat in on a panel discussion.

McChrystal, former Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, runs a pro-public service organization called the Franklin Project that counts Condoleezza Rice and Barbara Bush among its supporters, according to its website. He made headlines in 2010, stepping down after Rolling Stone ran an article entitled "The Runaway General," quoting members of McChrystal's staff disparaging top White House officials and allies.

At the conference this week, he told his high-flying audience about the concept of a "service year," where youths sign up for a year of service in a variety of fields like education and conservation, and receive a modest stipend.

McChrystal has previously laid out plans for the initiative at conferences. He described national service as the "big idea for our time" in a recent opinion piece for Politico.

NBC News' Tom Brokaw also interviewed McChrystal at the conference, two attendees said. Brokaw has previously talked about public service academies modeled on U.S. military academies.

Another hot issue at the conference? Many of the morning's panels featured education as their theme.

Sun Valley regular Jeff Weiner, chief executive of LinkedIn, has tweeted in favor of Code.org. Fellow guests, including Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Dropbox's Drew Houston, have spoken out publicly in favor of Code.org's mission to bring computer science education to schools across America.

The sources asked not to be named because the sessions are kept secret. (Reporting by Christina Farr; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)