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Programs in International and Comparative Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University
ICE Alumni Profiles > Jed Oppenheim

Jed Oppenheim

TC Degree & Year of Graduation: MA, 2006

Current position: Senior Advocate, Southern Poverty Law Center

Before TC: During his college years, Jed went to post-apartheid South Africa as a study abroad student and immediately saw similar issues to post- Civil Rights Movement United States. After his undergraduate years he went back to the African continent to work in Ghana as a teacher of English. These experiences made Jed question how post-colonial education systems were structured and he felt the need to go back to school and gain more legitimate skills. He also wanted an international and national focus on education issues and Teachers College’s dynamic programs and New York location was the right fit.

While at TC: As a student in the Comparative and International Education Program, Jed focused his studies on education in emergencies. He greatly benefited from the knowledgeable faculty -who were both practitioners and academics; the TC classes related to economics of education; the challenging and dynamic group work; the skills sets gained for grant writing; and the insights of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed focusing on “learner-centered” pedagogy. He also worked with the School of Public Health on a child and family health care assessment in post-Katrina Louisiana and Mississippi. Moreover, Jed took advantage of the opportunity to take classes at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and of the uncountable intellectual, cultural, networking, entertainment and social resources New York City has to offer. With his strengthened analytical, critical and practical skills, Jed was ready to go back to work!

After TC: Once he completed his studies Jed went to post-conflict Rwanda as a teacher and on to post-tsunami Indonesia to implement right based education programs with educators, government officials and parents. While his international experiences were making him a more skilled, culturally sensitive and analytical practitioner, in 2008 the US was in its election year, and Jed felt it was time to go back home and contribute in the state of Mississippi.

Current work: Jed is a Senior Advocate in the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society (http://www.splcenter.org/).  He believes in advocating to reform systems in crisis; increase access to equitable and quality education; fight against racial disparities; and to continue providing access to resources and opportunities for all.