ExpandED Equity Collaborative at Venture Cafe

How can we ensure that every student in our region has access to high quality education and opportunities? What if we all worked together across sectors, with common strategies to close the education opportunity gap so that every student can thrive?

ExpandED Learning Collaborative led an interactive panel discussion on the education opportunity gap July 28th 2016 from 6-7pm at Venture Cafe – St. Louis. Our panelists included Dr. Sharetta Butler Barnes, Assistant Professor with Washington University, Melissa Baum, Outreach Director with The Gathering Church, Kate Diouf, Association Director of Quality and Impact with the Gateway Region YMCA, Kristy Jackson, Gifted Coordinator with the Webster Groves School District and Founder of GLAMM-Girls Lead and Make Moves and Orlando Sharpe, Founder/Creative Director of BetaKids Robotics and STEM Teacher Quality Facilitator with STEMpact. We will looked at the role that educators, industry and community plays in innovating education and discussed ways in which community members could and should be involved. Read what one participant shared with me about the nights discussion below.

“I attended your panel last night at the CIC. Thank you for organizing such a conversation. I just recently graduated with my doctorate in higher education and my dissertation was about the lived experiences of college students with disabilities. It just floors me how limited education is for so many. Like I (and our mutual nerd girl crush – ha!) said last night, we need to examine every angle: the bias, the measures, and the student lived experiences.

I get so passionate about the education inequalities. No one should be denied a quality education, and, like Kristy and Kate said: everyone can benefit from gifted education and everyone should be treated like an A student. I still feel such sadness thinking back on that one first grade student with “Ms. Smith” who said, “but he’s black” and then hearing some of the responses from students with disabilities during my dissertation. I am sure your efforts and the efforts of your panelists will move to change this biased belief, and empower kiddos to get the education they deserve!

I told my husband about the session at the CIC earlier in the week and told him he should come along (he was the guy who asked, “What do we do next?”). He attended my dissertation defense, and then your panel last night, and it really opened his eyes to the subject. Now he sees what inequality there is. So, what can we do next?

I do hope you have more discussions like this around town. It’s so crucial for many reasons – from getting the community together to talk about education all the way to finding those donors!

Thank you again for the great conversation and I am so very excited about the great efforts going on for the kiddos in the St. Louis area. Thank you, Jackie”.

We have work to do in the St. Louis region and it is clear from the conversation we had on Thursday night that there is a need for them to continue. ExpandED Learning Collaborative is working with Venture Cafe and UMSL’s EdCollabitat on part-two of this important dialogue and action planning. Stay tuned in for what’s next!

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