Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings will join North Texas leaders in a public discussion on the community’s ethical role in supporting public education Monday, May 7, 2012 at SMU.
As Mike Miles prepares to take over as DISD superintendent, “From Your Block to the Boardroom” is designed to spark a conversation about the community’s role in supporting excellence in education. The event is co-hosted by SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, and Center on Communities and Education.
Simmons Dean David Chard will moderate the panel, which will include the Rev. Gerald Britt, vice president of CitySquare’s public policy and community program development; Florencia Velasco Fortner, CEO of Dallas Concilio; Torrence H. Robinson, Fluor Foundation senior director of community affairs; Bill McKenzie, Dallas Morning News columnist; and Todd Williams, executive director of Commit!.
“Our efforts with schools need to be sustained, and we hope that our dialogue at SMU can be the first in a series of discussions to determine how the community can make a difference and bolster the education of all students,” Chard says.
Maguire Center Director Rita Kirk will provide the ethical framework for the discussion. “We expect our school administrators and elected officials to hold the public trust and represent the best interests of our children, but what do we expect of our neighbor or local business, or even ourselves?” she says. Kirk will join Regina Nippert, executive director for SMU’s Center on Communities and Education, and Mayor Rawlings in underscoring the vital importance of supporting public education.
The panel discussion, including breakfast, takes place 7:30-9:30 a.m. at the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center. Tickets are $50 for the public, $25 for SMU employees, and are available online at block2boardroom.eventbrite.com.
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SMU and the Dallas Faith Communities Coalition have created a new partnership dedicated to transforming education in low-income neighborhoods. The coalition now is part of the Center on Communities and Education in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.
The center will initially focus on West Dallas, an impoverished area west of downtown where just 33 percent of residents over the age of 18 have high school diplomas. However, the intent is to establish a far-reaching model to impact other communities locally and nationally.
The partnership is a natural step for the coalition created in 2004 to develop solutions to poverty, says former coalition executive director Regina Nippert, now executive director of SMU’s Center on Communities and Education. In 2008 the coalition narrowed its focus to West Dallas schools. The partnership with the Simmons School provides new educational resources for West Dallas children.
“Our goal remains the same,” Nippert says. “Close the education gap in West Dallas by building a thriving education ecosystem – an integrated network of high-performing schools and nonprofits that together weave a safety net so tight that kids can’t fall through the cracks on their way to a college-ready education.”
SMU’s Center on Communities and Education is the backbone organization for the School Zone, which supports collaboration between 10 West Dallas public schools and 20 nonprofit agencies. The School Zone provides:
- Parent training and early childhood development programs
- In-school programs such as college readiness and teacher training
- After-school homework assistance, college awareness, mentoring and arts programming
Creating successful schools is key to fighting area poverty, says David Chard, the Leon Simmons Endowed Dean of the Simmons School. Through SMU faculty research, as well as student service learning, internships and work-study programs, Simmons School resources can support student progress in West Dallas schools as well as provide opportunities to SMU students and researchers.
“We have great respect for the families, educators and community organizations in West Dallas, and we intend to learn much from them,” Chard says. “Their insights will shape our work in the Simmons School.”
Written by Nancy George
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