Urban School Reform: Event Recap

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On October 14, 2013, Pioneer hosted a forum, “Urban School Models: Choice and Charter Lessons from D.C. and New Orleans,” featuring a Pulitzer Prize winner, a former DC mayor, two former state education chiefs and the superintendent of Lawrence schools, which are currently in state receivership.  The event was co-sponsored by the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard Kennedy School, Black Alliance for Educational Options, the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, and SABIS®. Scroll through our Facebook photo album.

Former Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty delivered the Keynote address. Education reform was a major focus of Fenty’s term, from 2007 to 2011. Watch this clip of his remarks:

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Jed Horne offered introductory remarks. Horne, then a metro editor at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his part in the paper’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina. His book, Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City, was declared the “best of the Katrina books” on National Public Radio. Watch the clip of his remarks here:

Two related research papers were presented at the event. Neerav Kingsland, chief strategy officer at New Schools for New Orleans, co-wrote “Charter Schools in New Orleans: Lessons for Massachusetts,” with William Donovan.

Read Pioneer Executive Director Jim Stergios’ blog, “Six Takeaways on New Orleans’ Charter Initiative,”  on Neerav’s presentation.

University of Arkansas Professor Patrick Wolf presented on his new research, “School Vouchers in Washington, D.C.: Lessons for Massachusetts.” Professor Wolf is leading the impact evaluation of the D.C. opportunity scholarship program through a contract with the U.S. Department of Education.

A roundtable panel discussion followed, with Cara Candal moderating. The panel included Lawrence Superintendent Jeffrey Riley, Kevin Chavous, Kenneth Campbell and Robert Scott. We will make that video clip available soon.

Kevin Chavous is a noted attorney, author and national school reform leader. As chair of the Council of the District of Columbia’s education committee, he helped usher in charter school and parental choice programs.

Jeffrey Riley is the Superintendent of the Lawrence Public Schools, which are currently in state receivership. He has over 20 years of experience working as a teacher and administrator in urban and suburban school systems.

Kenneth Campbell is a founding board member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options and has served as its president since 2010. He was also the founding director of charter schools at the Louisiana Department of Education.

Robert Scott was Texas’ Commissioner of Education from 2007 until 2012. During his tenure, the department published a four-year study of students who moved from Louisiana to Texas after Hurricane Katrina. The study found that the “Katrina students” outperformed a control group of Texas students with similar demographic characteristics.

At the conclusion of the event, Jed Horne and Kevin Chavous signed copies of their books.