For release: April 1, 2010
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843
National and local leaders will gather at the University of Memphis next week for
a conference that will explore the idea that a quality education should be a constitutional
right and create economic opportunities for individuals and their communities. “Education
as a Civil Right and Economic Driver: Empowering Individuals for the 21st Century
and Beyond” will run April 8-9 in the Rose Theatre. It is sponsored by the University’s
Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change and is free and open to the public.
Sessions of the conference will cover such topics as the critical role of science
education in maintaining U.S. competitiveness, legal challenges and remedies for deficiencies
in public education, the economic mobility created by a postsecondary education, and
educational reform initiatives in Memphis.
“The timing of this conference coincides with efforts underway both locally and nationally
to re-evaluate the outcomes of our educational institutions,” said Daphene R. McFerren,
director of the Hooks Institute. In a July 2009 report, the Business Leads Institute
of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that among 2,000 high schools in the United
States, approximately 40 percent of students drop out. In its review of the 2000 Census,
the Greater Memphis Partnership Strategic Planning for Community Development reported
that for the City of Memphis, approximately 25 percent of 16- to 24-year-old African-American
males are neither in school nor employed.
“These statistics show that our local community and our nation are losing some of
their most valuable resources, the talents and skills of our youth,” said McFerren.
“This loss deprives us of the resources that are required to create new technology,
to make scientific discoveries, to create businesses and industries, and to enrich
our cultural and artistic lives. If not corrected, these losses could have devastating
consequences for our future.”
Richard D. Legon, president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities
and Colleges in Washington, D.C., will deliver the plenary address April 8 at 6 p.m.
Legon will focus on how higher education can advance the public good.
Steve Perry, founder of Capital Preparatory School in Hartford, Conn., and a CNN education
contributor who was also featured on CNN’s Black in America, will deliver the keynote address April 9 at 6 p.m. Since founding Capital Preparatory,
100 percent of his graduating students have gone on to attend four-year colleges.
Perry is recognized for his advocacy for school reform and his commitment to academic
excellence, especially with respect to African-American students.
Other nationally known figures who will speak include Bruce Fuchs, director of the
Office of Science Education of the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C.,
and John Morton, managing director of the Pew Economic Policy Group of the Pew Charitable
Trusts in Washington, D.C.
Speakers will also represent the Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta, the Loyola
Law School in Los Angeles, the law school at the University of Baltimore, and West
Chester University in Pennsylvania.
Local leaders who will participate in the program include representatives of Shelby
County’s Office of Early Childhood and Youth, the Memphis New Teacher Project, Leadership
Memphis, the Knowledge is Power Program, the Collegiate School of Memphis, and Memphis
University of Memphis faculty will serve as moderators. They include Provost Ralph
Faudree, Dr. Beverly Cross, Dr. Marian Levy, Dr. Andy Meyers, Dr. Daniel Kiel, and
Dr. Jonathan Judaken. Other moderators will be members of the Hooks Institute’s advisory
board. Coordinating the event is Daphene McFerren.
For more information, contact McFerren at 901-678-3974, or visit the Hooks Institute’s
Web site, http://benhooks.memphis.edu