Inequalities in schools and neighborhoods focus of daylong conference Feb. 27

Social inequalities in schools and neighborhoods will be addressed by leading national scholars as well as prominent local scholars, experts and activists during a daylong conference Feb. 27 at Washington University.

Washington University’s Program in Social Thought & Analysis (STA) in Arts & Sciences is sponsoring the conference, titled “Inequalities in Schools & Neighborhoods: St. Louis and Beyond.” Part of the university’s 150th anniversary celebration, the conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Edison Theatre, which is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

“Americans continue to struggle for greater equality and integration in our cities, in our schools, in our everyday lives,” said John R. Bowen, Ph.D., the Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts & Sciences and chair of STA. “Some of the questions we hope to answer during the conference include: What does current research tell us about causes of continuing inequality and segregation? Can we ever hope to close racial, ethnic and economic gaps in schools? What leads people to leave or enter racially mixed neighborhoods? What policies work to revitalize poorer urban neighborhoods? How much do neighborhoods matter in shaping life-chances?”

William F. Tate, Ph.D., chair and professor of education in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, will chair the first panel discussion, which is on “Schools, Segregation and Achievement,” from 9 to 10:45 a.m. Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton will make opening remarks.

The participants on the first panel and their topics are:

  • Gary Orfield, Ph.D., professor of education and social policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who is considered the nation’s foremost authority on desegregation and the landmark court decision that ordered it in schools, Brown v. the Board of Education, “What Are the Key Forces Driving School Segregation?”;
  • Garrett A. Duncan, Ph.D., assistant professor of education and of African and Afro-American Studies, both in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, “How Can We Address Achievement Gaps in Schools?”;
  • Pedro A. Noguera, Ph.D., professor in the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University, “How Can Neighborhoods and Schools Support Each Other?”; and
  • Martha L. Minow, J.D., William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, “How Does Law Change Segregation and School Inequality?”

The second panel discussion will focus on “Neighborhoods, Diversity and Revitalization.” Bret Gustafson, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociocultural anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, will chair this discussion from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Participants and their topics are:

  • George Galster, Ph.D., Clarence Hilberry Professor of Urban Affairs at Wayne State University, “What Policies Work to Revitalize Poor Neighborhoods?”;
  • Leonard S. Rubinowitz, LL.B., professor of law at Northwestern University School of Law, “How Can We Provide Housing for the Needy While Revitalizing Neighborhoods?”; and
  • Ingrid Gould Ellen, Ph.D., associate professor of public policy and urban planning at New York University, “Why Do People Enter or Leave Neighborhoods and How Does This Research Help Promote Integration?”

Following lunch, “St. Louis Schools and Neighborhoods” will be the focus of a round-table discussion from 2 to 4 p.m. led by Gerald L. Early, Ph.D., the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters, professor of English, of African and Afro-American Studies (AFAS), and of American Culture Studies, and director of The Center for the Humanities and interim co-director of AFAS, all in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, and Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare in the university’s George Warren Brown School of Social Work.

Participating in the afternoon discussion will be:

  • William H. Danforth, chancellor emeritus and vice chairman of the board of trustees at Washington University, who served as settlement coordinator for the St. Louis School Desegregation Case;
  • Ron Jackson, vice president of the St. Louis Public Schools’ board of education and chairman of the St. Louis Black Leadership Roundtable;
  • Matt LeMieux, executive director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri;
  • Marlene Levine; chief executive officer of SSDN: A Family & Community Organization;
  • Robert H. Koff, Ph.D., director of the Educational Skills Initiative in Washington University’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Students; and
  • Rabbi Susan Talve, founding rabbi of Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis, who developed a public school mentoring program that has won national acclaim as a positive response to racism and violence.

There is no fee for attending the conference, which is open to the public, but registration is required. To register or for more information, e-mail or call Pat Zollner at or 935-4860.