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Summer Institute Explores Educational Justice Issues

REDLANDS, CA (July 13, 2011)— Why race still matters and how the educational system has failed to meet the needs of several groups of students were key topics at this year’s Summer Institute of the Center for Educational Justice at the University of Redlands.

Well-known teacher educator and pedagogical theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings, a faculty member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education, addressed some 150 educators Tuesday at the 7th annual Summer Institute of the Center for Educational Justice.

Ladson-Billings delivered the keynote address “Why Race Still Matters” and talked about looking past the achievement gap to what she calls an education debt, a combination of historical, moral, sociopolitical and economic factors that have disproportionately affected African-American, Latino, Asian and other non-white students.

Ladson-Billings spoke of gaps in student funding, wealth and health and how students are more impacted depending on their race and socioeconomic status and she dispelled beliefs educators may hold about black and brown students: that “parents just don’t care”; that “these children are not ready for school”; that “these families don’t value education.”

“We have the distinct privilege of shepherding the smartest, most creative and most talented generation of young people the world has ever seen. This is our task. It is not harder than the tasks previous generations have had,” she told the audience.

She urged the educators to draw upon all resources of society, not just schools, and mobilize— realizing “it is not about an achievement gap. It is about an education debt.”

Ladson-Billings is known for her scholarship related to this topic. While serving as president of the American Educational Research Association in 2005, she delivered a presidential address, “From the Achievement Gap to the Education Debt: Understanding Achievement in U.S. Schools” during which she outlined an “education debt.”

Ladson-Billings is the author of “The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African-American Children,” a book that addresses issues of educational incongruity in teaching African American children in the 21st century.

Jose Lalas, the director of the Center for Educational Justice at the University of Redlands School of Education, said it is a mission and vision of the school to nurture socially and educationally just learning and teaching environments.

“Adherence to educational justice must guide our delivery of curriculum and instruction to our students. The Center’s Summer Institute invites expert theorists and researchers on a variety of issues to inform educators, teachers, administrators, counselors and the broader school community about how their work can enrich our view of educational and social justice,” said Lalas.

The Center for Educational Justice’s Summer Institutes have featured prominent experts in the field such as Jean Anyon, the author of “Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of Urban Educational Reform,” and James Banks, director of the University of Washington's Center for Multicultural Education and a pioneer in the field of multicultural education.

The School of Education at the University of Redlands has a unique focus on educational justice, from the doctoral level with its Ed.D. in Educational Justice to courses and programs throughout the School. Its Institute for Educational Justice sponsors symposiums throughout the year to explore topics on educational justice.


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