The theme of the eighth annual Education Leadership Conference, presented by Yale SOM’s Education Club on April 3 and 4, was “Reframe, Reimagine, Reignite.” In his keynote address, Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade urged the audience of 700 educators and administrators to reimagine how education can and should function in poor communities.
Duncan-Andrade, a scholar at San Francisco State University who continues to teach high school in his native Oakland, California, said, “The purpose of school in my community, in so many communities, was to ‘escape the neighborhood.’ The unstated narrative there is something about my mother, something about my cousin on the corner, about my brother, and about my sister, that they need to be escaped. That they’re the problem in my life.” Students in communities like Oakland, he said, will reject what teachers have to offer if they are asked to leave their communities behind rather than learning how to make them better.
“The purpose of education is not to escape poverty,” he said. “The purpose of education is to end poverty.”
Dr. Howard Fuller of Marquette University, giving another keynote address, said that parents in poor communities must be given the power and financial ability, through vouchers and other means, to choose the right schools for their children, whether public schools, charter schools, or private schools. “The reality is that poor people in this country stand in a very different relational position to educational institutions than those of us with money,” he said. “Because those of us with money, when traditional public schools do not work for our children, we’re going to move to communities where they do work or we’re going to put our kids in private schools.”
The conference, which has become one of the leading forums in the industry for discussions of education reform and leadership, also included a plenary panel of Connecticut administrators speaking about the progress and results of reform in the state, as well as breakout sessions on technology, testing, unions, design thinking, and other topics.
Watch more video from the Educational Leadership Conference.