Educational Equity in Action

Educational Equity Convening Addresses Schools, Child Trauma

Last year, the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) and its Educational Equity Resource Center (EERC), held the first-ever statewide Educational Equity in Action (EEIA) convening of Minnesota’s education leaders, researchers, policy makers and non-profit organizations to learn about and help shape future policies regarding issues of educational equity and achievement gaps.

The event was a tremendous success, sparking conversation, ideas and plans of action among the attendees. More than 640 educators from across the state and country attended the convening. The sessions were highlighted by keynotes from two national leaders on the topic of educational equity, Pedro Noguera, Ph.D. of New York University and Jeff Duncan-Andrade of San Francisco State (for more on Jeff’s address, read his guest blog).

This year’s Educational Equity in Action convening will continue the momentum with a program of keynotes, breakout learning sessions and small group activities built on this year’s theme: “Working Across Schools and Communities to Enhance Social Emotional Learning.” A special focus will be discussing ways to promote social-emotional learning.

National Education Leaders to Deliver Keynote Addresses

This year, there will be two keynote addresses and one plenary session, two by esteemed faculty at CEHD.

Dr. Muhammad Khalifa will be discussing ways to promote culturally responsive schools. This includes the ways community history and voice must be used to reform schools. This approach requires that parents and students not simply be heard, but have their perspectives be centered in district and school level policy making. Also, schools should not attempt to assimilate students or change their identities, but promote academic identities that might be merged with their current cultural identities.

Giving a brief preview of his keynote, Dr. Khalifa said, “All students need culturally responsive leadership and schooling; minoritized students hardly ever have access to it. And thus, educational inequities persist.  This lecture highlights the educational experiences of minoritized students—those who have been historically marginalized in school and society. I suggest that school leaders can promote schooling that addresses the specific cultural and learning needs of students who are Indigenous, Black, Latinx, low-income, refugees, and otherwise minoritized. But to promote culturally responsive schools, leaders must center the perspectives of parents, students, and community members. In this lecture, I present practices and strategies for how this can be achieved.”

We’re also proud to welcome CEHD Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development Dr. Michael Rodriguez as a plenary speaker for EEIA ‘17.

“In my presentation on the Minnesota Student Survey, I hope to bring a microphone to the voices of hundreds of thousands of Minnesota youth. They spoke to us through the survey regarding their experiences, behaviors, and attitudes, and we now have the opportunity to not only hear them, but find new ways to support them,” said Rodriguez. “It is clear that most Minnesota youth, in all racial and ethnic communities, come to school with very high levels of commitment to learning, positive outlooks, and social competence. However, we find differences in these social-emotional skills based on student experiences and behaviors, much more so than race/ethnicity. The academic achievement gaps we see on state and national standardized tests are far larger than the differences we observe on the social-emotional skills we believe are important for school success. By listening more closely to our students, and supporting them in their own very high academic goals (which are much higher than the goals we’ve set as a state), we should be able to create opportunities for Minnesota students to succeed and reach their goals.”

Finally, we’re pleased to be able to welcome a national leader on issues of cultural healing and resilience, Dr. Martin Brokenleg. Dr. Brokenleg is co-author of the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk:  Our Hope for the Future and co-developer of the Circle of Courage model and provides training worldwide for individuals who work with youth at risk.  He holds a doctorate in psychology and is a graduate of the Anglican Divinity School. He is a retired professor and was most recently Director of Native Ministries and Professor of First Nations Theology at the Vancouver School of Theology. For thirty years, Dr. Brokenleg was Professor of Native American studies at Augustana University of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He has also been a director of The Neighborhood Youth Corps, chaplain in a correctional setting, and has extensive experience as an alcohol counselor. Dr. Brokenleg has consulted and led training programs throughout North America, New Zealand, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. He is the father of three children and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

Dr. Brokenleg will bring a powerful and spiritual message, as well as a special focus on Native American culture, to the convening. “In this materialistic, fast-paced culture, many children have broken circles, and the fault line usually starts with damaged relationships.” writes Dr. Brokenleg. “Having no bonds to significant adults, they chase counterfeit belongings through gangs, cults, and promiscuous relationships. Some are so alienated that they have abandoned the pursuit of human attachment. Guarded, lonely, and distrustful, they live in despair or strike out in rage. Families, schools, and youth organizations are being challenged to form new “tribes” for all of our children so there will be no ‘psychological orphans.’”

We hope you’ll join us at the Educational Equity in Action 2017 convening. For more information and registration, click here. It’s sure to be an inspiring two days for educational professionals in Minnesota and across the country.

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