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It's Not Just Academic

The knock on scholarly conferences and symposia is that too often they are just that: scholarly. Information gets presented; debates ensue - but then what?

TC's first annual Symposium on Educational Equity, on October 24 and 25, aims to be different. Certainly the biggest headlines coming out of the symposium - titled "The Social Costs of Inadequate Education" - will be about the staggering costs society incurs when young people fail to graduate from high school. The opening remarks, by Congressman Charles Rangel - a one-time high school dropout who speaks eloquently about the difference good teachers made in his life - are likely to be an attention-grabber, too. But in addition to quantifying the dollar impact that dropping out has on the criminal justice, health care and public assistance systems - as well as on productivity, personal earnings and tax revenues- the symposium will include a strong interactive component.

For starters, each set of presentations will be followed by prepared responses from other experts in the field. The back-and-forth will be moderated by additional scholars, including TC faculty members Amy Stuart Wells, Jeffrey Henig and Luis Huerta, along with Darlyne Bailey, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College.

Then, during lunchtime breakout sessions on the Symposium's second day, audience members will be able to weigh in by suggesting "action responses" to the new data. Each session will be facilitated by staff from TC's International Center for Conflict Resolution, and at the end of the Symposium, Michael Rebell, Executive Director of The Campaign for Educational Equity at TC, will report back to the audience on all the ideas that have been proposed. The Symposium is the first major research gathering hosted by the Campaign.

Finally, the day after the Symposium - Wednesday, October 26 - Rebell will host a private strategic planning session for the Campaign that will be attended by 50 leaders from the worlds of business, government, non-profit/advocacy organizations, academia and the media. The meeting will begin with a recap of the Symposium, including a presentation by Rebell on the recommendations of the Symposium audience.

"The goal of the Campaign is to make things happen," Rebell says. "We want this new information to change priorities and policies. The public should be part of that discussion."

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