Center on Race and Social Problems

FIfty Years After Brown

"Fifty Years After Brown: New Solutions for Segregation and Academic Underachievement"

In May 2004, the Center on Race and Social Problems presented an all-day conference commemorating a landmark in American history-Brown v. Board of Education. This event was the second in the Pittsburgh Brown Commemoration series, organized in conjunction with Duquesne University. We thank the Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation for their generous support of this conference.

Brown radically changed the face of America, ushering in an era of opportunity previously denied to millions. Great strides have been made to close the racial education gap, yet the full promise of Brown remains unrealized. Now we need new solutions, solutions as radical as Brown was 50 years ago.

Our guest speakers and panelists explored current problems related to segregation and academic underachievement. Each presentation was followed by an audience question-and-answer period.

Guest Speakers

Dr. James P. Comer is a Child Psychiatry Professor at the Yale University School of Medicine Child Study Center. He has concentrated his career on promoting child development and on the collaboration of parents, educators, and community to improve social, emotional, and academic outcomes for children.

Kati Haycock is Director of The Education Trust. The Trust provides hands-on assistance to urban school districts and universities that want to work together to improve student achievement, kindergarten through college, and focuses particularly on those who are poor or members of minority groups.

Dr. Gary Orfield is Director of the Harvard Project on School Desegregation, and Founding Codirector of the Harvard Civil Rights Project. His central interest has been the development and implementation of social policy, with a central focus on the impact of policy on equal opportunity for success in American society. School desegregation and the implementation of civil rights laws have been central issues throughout his career.

Dr. Abigail Thernstrom is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Thernstrom is also a member of the Massachusetts State Board of Education and a commissioner on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Her work focuses on education achievement, race and ethnicity, and affirmative action.

The conference concluded with a discussion by a panel of local educators and education policy experts: Helen Faison, Director of the Pittsburgh Teachers Institute; William Isler, President of the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Directors; Janet Schofield, Senior Scientist at University of Pittsburgh Learning Research and Development Center and Professor of Psychology; and John Thompson, Superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

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