Leading from Behind: Race, Class, and the Promise of Education Reform

Presented by the Women of Color Policy Network.

Nearly a decade after the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the federal legislation that promised reform and accountability for the American education system, many urban cities continue to be plagued by failing schools, high dropout rates, and poor performance across the board. The statistics are clear: Over 40 percent of Black and Latino students did not graduate from high school in 2011, and graduation rates in cities with large concentrations of working class and poor residents are substantially lower than other geographic areas by over fifty percent.

The current Administration understands that to be competitive in today’s workforce, our nation must reform a failing system and invest in public education. In May 2011, President Obama announced his intent to replace NCLB in all fifty states by the end of the year with Race to the Top, a competitive grant program incentivizing education innovation and reform. At this turning point in our nation’s approach to education reform, education leaders must come together and identify the specific policies that are needed to narrow the achievement gap that disproportionately leaves low-income students and people of color behind.

Join education experts from across the nation as they explore what it will really take to reform the public education system in America and prepare students to compete in a global economy. Panelists will propose innovative approaches to education reform given a political environment favoring cuts to public investments, discuss the federal government’s role in ensuring access and quality, and weigh in on what strategies – from charter schools to equitable school financing – hold the most promise for success in a post-NCLB era.

Discussants:
• Zakiyah Ansari, Parent Leader, NYC Coalition for Educational Justice
• Lorretta Johnson, Ed.D, Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
• Carlos Perez, President and CEO, New Jersey Charter Schools Association
• Warren Simmons, Ph.D, Executive Director, Annenberg Institute for School Reform

Moderator:
• Edward Fergus, Ph.D, Deputy Director, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education