Students for Education Reform (SFER) will host American Education Week starting Nov. 12. The week is co-sponsored by SFER and the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD) and includes several lectures and programs regarding education and equality.
“We’ve reached out to a lot of local and national organizations involved with education reform and we are lucky to have so many represented over the three days,” said Alexis Teevens ’13, F&M chapter leader of SFER.
Teevens hopes the week will inspire students to consider educational inequality a major problem of their generation and will motivate them to work towards a solution.
SFER recently organized a demonstration on Hartman Green to illustrate the pervasiveness of educational inequality. The group arranged 100 chairs, with only eight adorned with F&M t-shirts, to represent the eight percent of students from low-income communities who go to college. American Education Week hopes to continue the discussion of inequality on campus.
“We truly believe that if other F&M students were aware of the problems in our education system, they would feel as passionate about reform as we do,” Teevens said. “I am hoping students will learn that there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to this problem. Providing an equal and equitable education for all will require commitment from all sides.”
Teevens is most excited for the panel entitled “Is Educational Equity in America Possible?” taking place Monday in the Brooks Great Room at 7 p.m.
The discussion will feature Donnell J. Butler, Ph.D. ’95, senior associate dean for planning and analysis of student outcomes; Katherine McClelland, Ph.D., professor of sociology; Shawn Jenkins ’10, special assistant to the dean of the College for strategic projects; and Jerelyn Rodriquez, national program director of Students for Education Reform.
“Dean Butler, Professor McClelland, and Shawn Jenkins are all amazing speakers and incredibly intelligent people who will have invaluable resources to share with us,” Teevens said. “I can’t wait to hear them talk about what caused the current problems in our education system and I’m hoping they will debate some potential solutions.”
Other programs include a lecture entitled “Spotlight: Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) in Philadelphia and Washington, DC,” taking place during Uncommon Hour Tuesday from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m., and an educational opportunities fair on Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Roschel Performing Arts Center lobby.
KIPP is a charter school organization working with F&M’s College Prep Program, which takes place at F&M every summer. SFER wanted to highlight this program because, while people may not be aware of it as they are of programs such as Teach for America, the organization has accomplished a lot in the field of education and has ties with F&M.
“Aaron Bass ’01 and Molly Mae Wall ’12 are both F&M alums who currently work for KIPP schools, but in different roles,” Teevens said. “We think it will be great for students to hear about how their F&M educations can prepare them for work in education.”
The opportunities fair is set up like a graduate school fair with tables featuring representatives from different organizations. The groups participating in the fair include Teach For America, KIPP DC, KIPP Philadelphia, National College Advising Corps, Urban Teacher Center, SFER, The Ware Institute for Civic Engagement, City Year Greater Philadelphia, and Children Deserve A Chance, among others.
SFER came up with the idea for a week-long campus awareness event and then reached out to the OSPGD who assisted them with the coordination of the events.
“Without that office, Education Week would not be happening,” Teevens said. “I have worked closely with Beth Throne, Lori Greenawalt, and Christian Hartranft to plan, reserve rooms and speakers, and advertise the events of this week.”
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