2008: Comprehensive Educational Equity: Overcoming the Socioeconomic Barriers to

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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Center for Educational Equity

Comprehensive Educational Equity: Overcoming the Socioeconomic Barriers to

11/17/2008 ~ 11/18/2008 at Cowin Center, Teachers College

On Monday and Tuesday, November 17-18, 2008, the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, will host its fourth annual Equity Symposium, “Comprehensive Educational Equity: Overcoming the Socioeconomic Barriers to School Success.”

Purpose: The purpose of the symposium is to confront the reality that to overcome achievement gaps and promote academic proficiency for all children, we must tackle the full range of opportunity gaps faced by children from backgrounds of concentrated poverty, including health-, home-, and community-related barriers to learning, as well as inequities in academic opportunities. To meet the economic challenges of an increasingly “flat world,” to head off the disintegration of our polity by preparing all students to be capable civic participants in our democracy, to eliminate achievement gaps and fulfill the moral imperative of ensuring that a child’s racial, socioeconomic, or family background no longer predicts that child’s educational attainment, our nation must adopt a comprehensive, whole-child approach to educational equity and provide meaningful educational opportunities for all. 

At the symposium, we intend to review current research on these issues, examine the experiences of important demonstration projects like the Harlem Children’s Zone and the Rochester Surround Care Community Corporation, and the community schools movement. We then intend to advance current conversations and public policy in this area by presenting a concrete analysis of the actual costs of providing a range of the most essential services to children from birth through age 18, mapping current federal, state and local spending in these areas, and making specific proposals for legislative action to better coordinate existing services and provide additional necessary services on a sustained basis to meet children’s comprehensive needs.

Audience: We expect a large and varied audience consisting of academics, advocates, educators, students, business leaders, lawyers, policy-makers, foundation representatives, media, and public opinion makers. Attendance at last year’s symposium exceeded 400 people. The two-day event will include presentations and follow up discussions on the current research and best practices, and set a policy agenda to promote a rational cost-effective approach to comprehensive educational equity.

Papers and Presentations: The 2008 Equity Symposium will feature a series of research papers on the state of practice in areas such as early childhood education, parental involvement and family supports, out of school programming, and mental and physical health services in at-risk communities; on current effective demonstration projects from around the country and abroad; on the actual costs of providing meaningful educational opportunities to children from birth through age 18; and on financing and legislative strategies for providing comprehensive educational equity and higher education nationally and in New York State. Leading scholars and public officials from education and related service delivery areas will present these papers and take part in these discussions.