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Forum addresses educational equity

February 09, 2010

Educators, policymakers and researchers from around the country will convene Feb. 16 and 17, in Phoenix, to discuss the best practices for building bridges, breaking down barriers and strengthening systems for educational equity.

The 2010 Leadership for Equity and Excellence Forum, presented by the Equity Alliance at Arizona State University, is an annual event that focuses on the civil and educational rights of culturally and linguistically diverse students, the disproportionate number of these students in special education and creating more inclusive schools.

“Our job is to help schools address the lack of opportunity for these students to learn,” said Elizabeth Kozleski, professor of education policy, leadership and curriculum with ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education.

“The biggest issue we have is that, in spite of the No Child Left Behind Act, the distribution of resources to schools builds disadvantages for some groups of students and excludes other groups from accessing advanced placement courses and opportunities to engage in the most complex and challenging content areas that our nation’s schools have to offer,” Kozleski said. “More than half of the complaints to the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education are about issues that deal with who is being identified for special education. There are many children who are culturally and linguistically diverse who are over-represented in special education, and that is problematic.”

The forum program will include more than 60 presentations, workshops, case studies, and panel discussions. Keynote speakers include Kimberlé Crenshaw, professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School; Bryan Brayboy, associate professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at ASU; and Paul Gorski, assistant professor of Integrative Studies at George Mason University.

Crenshaw is a professor of law and her scholarly interests are related to race and the law. Brayboy specializes in anthropology and sociology of education, American Indian education and preparation for inclusive schools. Gorski’s research interests include social justice, anti-poverty activism and anti-racism education.

Kozleski and her colleague, professor Alfredo Artiles, are co-principal investigators of the Equity Alliance at ASU, which also serves as the Region IX Equity Assistance Center for Arizona, California and Nevada. The Equity Alliance builds on educational theory, cutting-edge research and the momentum of ASU’s National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt), National Center for Urban School Improvement (NIUSI) and NIUSI-LeadScape programs to promote equity, access and participation in education.

“This forum will deepen participants understanding about the complexity of these issues and help them understand how to use a variety of disciplines and knowledge bases to bring about change in the systems where they work,” Kozleski said. “Equity Assistance Centers are part of the solution by providing people with information, support and knowledge development to tear down walls and build bridges.”

For more information about the 2010 Leadership for Equity and Excellence Forum and to register, visit Individual registration is $225, however reduced registration fees are available for groups of five or more and full-time students. Walk-in registration will be accepted the day of the event.