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Inaugural Gordon Lecture Focuses on the "Lost Question" of Race in Education

Are educators and education policymakers truly confronting issues of race and racism? Has a focus on class trumped an awareness of race? Did school desegregation obscure other inequities?

Charles Payne, Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor in the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, will tackle these and other questions in delivering Teachers College’s inaugural Edmund Gordon Lecture on Thursday, October 10th, at 6 pm in TC’s Milbank Chapel.

The lecture, which honors Edmund W. Gordon, TC’s Richard March Hoe Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education, is part of “Educating Harlem,” a collaboration among TC’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME, founded by Gordon in 1973), the College’s Program in History and Education, and the Center on History and Education. “Educating Harlem” seeks to establish a scholarly community focused on investigating the history of education in 20th century Harlem.

“All of the forces that shaped education in the 20th century ran through Harlem, often in amplified form because of the particular confluence of people, ideas and institutions in the community,” says Ernest Morrell, TC Professor of English Education and current director of IUME.

Payne, whose lecture is titled “Whatever Happened to the Negro Question?: Educational Discourse and the Lost Question of Race,” is the award-winning author of Getting What We Ask For: The Ambiguity of Success and Failure In Urban Education (1984) and I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement(1995).  He recently published an anthology, Teach Freedom: The African American Tradition of Education For Liberation (Teachers College Press), which is concerned with Freedom School-like education. He currently serves on the advisory board for Teacher College Press' series on social justice. He is the co-founder of the Duke Curriculum Project, which involves university faculty in the professional development of public school teachers and also co-founder of the John Hope Franklin Scholars, which tries to better prepare high school youngsters for college.  

Payne’s is the third lecture in the “Educating Harlem” series, following last spring’s events with Martha Biondi, Professor of Education at Northwestern University, who spoke about her research on student activism at City College in the 1960s, and Khalil Muhammad, Director of the Harlem-based Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The next lecture in the series will feature Jonna Perillo of the University of Texas-El Paso discussing her recent book, Uncivil Rights: Teachers, Unions, and Race in the Battle for School Equity.

Charles Payne’s talk coincides with a working conference of scholars from universities across the country, convened by Educating Harlem.

“Our scholars look to Harlem to understand how schools exist in relationship to their cities, and to think about the many ways in which communities educatE their children,” says Ansley Erickson, Assistant Professor of History and Education, who has organized the “Educating Harlem” lecture series and teaches a related seminar. “For example, public housing construction from the 1930s through the 1970s had a huge effect on schools and communities, and we need to know more about that.”

IUME employs research, demonstration, technical assistance and information dissemination to study and illuminate possibilities in schools and neighborhoods that make a positive impact on the lives of people who historically have been under-served.

Edmund W. Gordon, 92, is one of the nation’s preeminent figures in psychology, education and social policy. He has served as the founding research director of the federal Head Start Program, helped to write the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Interim Dean of Teachers College. Gordon is best known for championing his vision of supplementary education – a range of supports and services designed to replicate the learning wealthier children receive through families and communities – as the nation’s best hope for closing the education achievement gap.

The Program in History and Education – one of the oldest academic programs at TC – prepares historians of education who teach in colleges and universities or contribute to organizations where a deep understanding of education in historical perspective is essential.

The Gordon Lecture will be preceded by a reception at 5 p.m. in TC’s Everett Lounge.  

To register for the event, CLICK HERE.

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