Second School of Education Forum Continues Discussion on Equal Access to Education as Social Justice

On the heels of the successful first School of Education Community Forum in October, a second forum, Doing the Right Thing and Doing the Thing Right: Critical Issues for Sustained Community Engagement, was held on March 12 in the Power Center Ballroom, to provide continued dialogue on the issue of education as a social justice right for all students.

This forum capitalized on the work in the Pittsburgh region that is aimed at educational equality. The participants—including representatives from businesses, foundations, civic organizations, educational institutions and government—convened to better collaborate on their existing programs and services and to work on moving dialogues into actions.

Participants focused their discussions on the importance of excellence in equity in education and drew upon their own work and practices around educational and employment opportunities. Three topics derived from the first forum helped to focus discussions:

  • Social justice needs to become a region-wide initiative.
  • The region’s biggest barrier is its segregated nature and there is a need for a breakdown of geographic barriers, immobilization and segregated neighborhoods that currently define Pittsburgh.
  • Students should be engaged in a holistic way.

Dr. Timothy R. Austin, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Olga M. Welch, dean of the School of Education, provided the welcome and introduction.

Dr. Jacqueline Jordan Irvine, the Charles Howard Candler Professor Urban Education, Emerita, Emory University, set the stage for the event. The program was closed by William Peduto, mayor of Pittsburgh, who noted what the city is doing to advance educational equality and provided the groundwork for collaboration with the School of Education in future Community Forums.

The next steps derived from the event will form the basis for the third forum, which is scheduled for October. Participants will convene and share how they used the collective findings to engage, collaborate and share their programs, services and ideas to advance social justice in education.