Center for Urban Education Hosts Sold-out Educator Forum

Lori Delale O’Connor, Dana Thompson Dorsey, Kari Kokka at the CUSEF forumThe Center for Urban Education (CUE) hosted its annual Summer Educator Forum, igniting conversations among like-minded researchers and activists about how to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.

Known as CUESEF, the multi-day conference in July attracted K-12 and higher ed teaching practitioners and scholars from across the country — even as far as Turkey. Along with CUE, which is housed within the School of Education, Heinz Endowments co-sponsored the forum.

For many, including Ronald Idoko, manager of multicultural programming at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and current School of Education doctoral student, it was a “scholarly recharge for the soul.”

Valerie Kinloch, Renée and Richard Goldman dean of the School of Education, said, “I am extremely thrilled that our Center for Urban Education takes the charge to both spark and lead conversations about pressing educational issues that impact all people, but particularly minoritized people whose voices, histories and perspectives are often excluded and/or erased from a larger discussion about educational justice and opportunity.” Kinloch added, “I would argue that this was one of the best and impactful conferences I have attended in a while.”

Inspiring, invigorating collaboration of academics and activists

Guests said that bringing together academics and community activists — and those who are both — sparked the conversations that CUE aimed to facilitate through its packed agenda of intensive forums and practice-filled workshops.

“Seeing how people are creatively addressing the problem outside academia, but with the tools and knowledge of academia, lets me know that collaboration between those spaces is a must for the dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline,” said Gabby M. H. Yearwood, lecturer and director of undergraduate studies of the Department of Anthropology, who attended all three days of the conference, including a keynote presentation by nationally known scholar Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

Lori Delale O’Connor, assistant professor of education at CUE, agreed, adding, “It was heartening to see folks from across contexts engaging the school-to-prison pipeline from a variety of positions and perspectives with real possibilities for building collective work.” 

Kari Kokka, assistant professor of mathematics education, said she connected with old friends at the conference — and made new ones, too. “The commitment and drive of the collective CUESEF community made me feel invigorated and inspired to continue to do the work.”

And that work is all the more pressing, according to Kinloch, who said that we live in times in which public education is under scrutiny for failing to meet the needs of students, particularly Black and Brown students. “We need to better center the lives, literacies and languages of kids, adolescents and families within schools and communities,” said Kinloch. “This is exactly what our School of Education is doing, and through the efforts of our various Centers and Institutes, including CUE, we are leading the way.”

Center for Urban Education announces theme for upcoming academic year

At the conclusion of CUESEF, CUE director T. Elon Dancy announced the Center’s theme for the 2019-2020 academic year: “Witnessing: Rigor, Resistance and Responsibility in Divisive Times.”

According to Kinloch, who just began her third year as dean, the theme is a timely one to help us create a better world — in and across education. “We are living in divisive times, indeed, and we need to understand the many ways of engaging in these times with rigor, through resistance, and with responsibility for and with others,” said Kinloch. “Thus, this academic year in our School of Education and Center for Urban Education is significant, timely and essential for how we move forward an agenda of love, transformation and serious action.”