2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Equity Update

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Equity Symposium

Equity Symposium to be held Nov. 13-14 at TC.

It was a busy spring for The Campaign for Educational Equity. At a debut event on Capitol Hill in March, hosted by the office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Campaign Board Chair Laurie Tisch and Executive Director Michael Rebell called for Congress to significantly retool the federal education law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which is up for reauthorization in 2007, and to precede that work with a national study of the true cost of providing children with a quality education.

"It is our belief that the federal government--and Congress, in particular--must engage in an exhaustive analysis of precisely which aspects of this law have been successful, what needs fixing and how," Tisch said. "This analysis must be conducted in a way that draws upon the highest quality research and ensures a debate driven by facts rather than a priori partisan ideologies. We believe this is the only way to ensure that we are serving the interests of America's children."

Drawing on two policy papers just published by The Campaign, Rebell argued that, in addressing NCLB, Congress might take direction from state courts that have ruled state constitutions guarantee students the right to a sound, basic education.

"Since 1989, there have been 28 major decisions in school finance adequacy cases heard in state high courts, and plaintiffs have won 21 of them," Rebell told his audience. "Those victories have come in red states as well as blue, during an era generally dominated by the conservative political agenda. What that shows is that there is a deep and profound commitment to equity in America and to the vision first laid out in Brown versus Board of Education." The Campaign also has announced that its second annual Equity Symposium, to be held on November 13-14 at TC, will be titled "Examining America's Commitment to Closing Achievement Gaps: NCLB and Its Alternatives."

In June, The Campaign launched the Assessment and Evaluation Research Initiative (AERI), which will study, monitor, evaluate and provide consultation to programs, schools and school districts on their efforts aimed at achieving educational excellence and equity in all areas of student development. Led by TC faculty member Madhabi Chatterji and Professor Emeritus Edmund W. Gordon, AERI will initially assess work in two municipalities, Elmira, New York, and East Ramapo, New York.

Finally, The Campaign is playing an expanded role this fall in TC's orientation for new students. Incoming students were asked to read Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap, by Richard Rothstein, former Tisch Visiting Professor at TC. Upon their arrival on September 5th, the students attended a Campaign sponsored, two-hour panel discussion of the book featuring several TC faculty members. Follow-up discussion groups will be held later in the semester.

Meanwhile, The Campaign continues to recruit members to its External Advisory Board, which includes former U. S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise. The Campaign has also launched its official Web site at www.tcequity.org.

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