Duquesne forum seeks social justice in Public Education

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The Duquesne University School of Education, funded by The Heinz Endowments,   spearheaded a collaborative discussion on social justice in public education on Oct. 23 at the  Duquesne University Power Center Ballroom. The event included participants from communities, school districts, non-profit educational service organizations, governmental representatives, parents and students.

The discussions were framed by:

Allegheny Conference CEO, Dennis Yablonsky, who spoke from an economic standpoint, which included workforce development, job training and the 26,000 open jobs in the region waiting to be filled.

ARNETHA BALL, PhD

ARNETHA BALL, PhD

Arnetha Ball, PhD, professor of education at Stanford University, and Pedro Noguera, PhD, the Peter Agnew Professor of Education at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, shared research findings on the education of children and youth from under-represented populations to inform the subsequent dialogue among participants.

President and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation, Grant Oliphant, offered closing remarks and set the stage for the next steps in the process.

This inaugural forum engaged stakeholders in dialogue on 21st century public education as a social justice right impacting all children, particularly those in under-represented populations. The goal is to gain a more accurate understanding of the work presently occurring that affects the education of all children in the region, to get the leaders as participants in the same room to discuss why there still are issues related to student achievement and success.

“What can we share to gain a more accurate understanding of the work we are all doing in the region that affects education?” asked Dr. Olga Welch, dean of the School of Education at Duquesne.

OLGA WELCH   Dean and professor of Duquesne University School of Education

OLGA WELCH
Dean and professor of Duquesne University School of Education

“Public education is a social justice issue, it is a social justice right, so as the School of Education, we’re ‘coming off the Bluff’ to be a place not only where we educate, but a place where we can use our scholarship, resources and community partnerships and our leadership in education to engage the region’s leaders in meaningful discourse and problem-solving in an environment that champions equity and social justice for everyone.

“Far too many of our children are ill-prepared educationally for either post-secondary opportunities or the world of work. Educating all of our children is a social justice imperative that the entire community shares. Why does this continue to happen when we have so many worthwhile programs and services? We need to learn how to share our vision for children’s educational success by exploring what is and is not working, by sharing each other’s ideas and visions, and by collaborating to help children become prepared for work and for success.

“Education must become the foundation that launches meaningful life-long learning,” Welch said.

Two key questions addressed during the forum were:

What does 21st century learning need to look like to achieve equity and excellence for all children?

And what do we need to do, from our various positions, to make this happen, including ways to learn from each other?

The dialogue stemming from these questions is expected to answer what would transformation in public education in the 21st century look like?  The forum provided the basis for continuing dialogue among participants and other interested stakeholders.

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