By Lynne Raughley
How can educators and concerned citizens address the disparity in the quality of education in different communities? This is just one of the questions that will animate an upcoming conversation featuring experts from both the academy and the local community.
Social Justice: Equity in Education, sponsored and hosted by the University of Michigan Library, will use a fishbowl structure that places speakers the center of the room and other participants sitting around them in a circle. By minimizing the physical distance between speakers and audience, this arrangement encourages close observation, active listening, and broad participation.
The fishbowl participants are Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania; Cheyenne Turner, community support specialist in the Children’s Services Department at the Washtenaw Youth Detention Center; Benjamin Edmondson, Superintendent at Ypsilanti Community Schools; and Shari Saunders, professor and associate dean at the U-M School of Education.
Professor Thomas emphasizes the need for broad participation in such conversations. “It took activist movements to end legal segregation of school in the United States. It will take new movements to ensure that all children in the United States receive the best education possible.” She says the challenge to achieving equity in education is that “students from marginalized groups need more resources that students from dominant, more privileged groups; and yet, they often receive less.”
Jeff Witt, the U-M Library diversity and inclusion specialist, expects an audience eager to learn more about equity in education and how it intersects with issues of social justice. “Everybody has a stake in how the children in our communities are educated,” he says. “And the library is an open and neutral venue, ideal for conversations like this that bring together people who can speak to this issue from a variety of perspectives.”
Social Justice: Equity in Education will be held in the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery on March 27, from 1-2:30.
Professor Thomas will also speak on her research about the representation of slavery in children’s stories and its implications for school and society. This Emergent Research talk takes place on March 27, 10-11:30am, in the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery.