U.S. Education Agenda Virtual Discussion

Shaping America's Education Agenda: Furthering the Legacies of Historical Black Educators

In honor of Black History Month, we will host a panel discussion with leaders in the education community to highlight the important contributions of historical Black educators and ways we build on their work to create opportunities for equity and equality in America's public education system.

Virtual Panel Discussion
Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM CST

Meet the Moderator, Speakers and Panelists

Moderator: Dr. Sonya Whitaker

Dr. Sonya Whitaker, the National Director for Educational Policy for PUSH Excel, will be the moderator of our upcoming virtual town hall discussion. Dr. Whitaker is a national speaker and highly regarded educator who started as a classroom teacher and has since served as Superintendent of Schools in two different school districts in Illinois. She also has served as Deputy Superintendent of Schools and as a central office administrator for the largest elementary school district in the state.

Dr. Whitaker is the founder of Whitaker Educational Consulting, Inc., the author of Is There Anybody That Can Teach Me How to Read?, and the host of the national radio show and podcast: What’s Really Going On??, a spotlight on solutions for improving student achievement in America’s schools.

Speaker: Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

Rev. Jackson is one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious and political figures and the Founder and President of Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which focuses on civil rights work through economic parity, equal educational opportunities, and international social justice and peace.

Over the past 40 years, he has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Clinton. A hallmark of Rev. Jackson’s work has been his commitment to youth. He has visited thousands of high schools, colleges, universities and correctional facilities encouraging excellence and inspiring hope in  young people.

Speaker: Dr. Julianne Malveaux

Dr. Malveaux is the President of PUSH Excel. She has long been recognized for her progressive and insightful observations. Dr. Malveaux’s popular writing has appeared in USA Today, Black Issues in Higher Education, Ms. Magazine, Essence Magazine, and the Progressive. Dr. Malveaux has been a contributor to academic life since receiving her Ph.D. in economics from MIT in 1980. During her time as the 15th President of Bennett College for Women, Dr. Malveaux was the architect of exciting and innovative transformation at America’s oldest historically black college for women. She is the President and owner of Economic Education, a 501 c-3 non-profit headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Panelist: Dr. Karla Guseman

Dr. Guseman began her career in education at Joliet Township High School in Illinois in 2000 as a Science teacher at Joliet Central. Today, she serves as the Superintendent of Joliet Township High School District 204.

Dr. Guseman believes that all students must have an equal opportunity for a high-quality education. Under Dr. Guseman’s direct leadership, JTHS has made significant educational gains. The district has implemented blended learning for students and culturally responsive teaching and restorative practices cohorts for staff. Over 90% of all staff within the district participated in Implicit Bias training during the 2019-2020 school year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Guseman helped expand the Advanced Placement program at JTHS, resulting in an increase from 196 students in the program in 2010 to over 1,000 students currently in Advanced Placement programming today. The graduation rate district-wide has also increased by 10 percent over the past 15 years.

Panelist: Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat

Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat is the superintendent of Peoria Public Schools in Illinois. She has worn many educational hats, including: working for the Tri County Urban League as a middle school teacher; principal of the U.S.-Department-Blue-Ribbon-Award-winning Whittier Primary School; assistant principal of Roosevelt Magnet School, and principal of Manual Academy. She also served as the Transformation Officer for Springfield Public Schools and then Associate Superintendent of Schools in Danville from 2013 – 2015.

Dr. Desmoulin-Kherat has earned many awards for her collaborative efforts to successfully improve student achievement. One of her passions involves personalizing education and helping students find their interests in order to customize education that ensures students are work- and career-ready. She has shared bold ideas around transforming teacher evaluations and redesigning the students’ report cards to be based on skills instead of content.

Panelist: Dr. Jason Ottley

Dr. Jason Ottley is the Executive Director for The Bond Educational Group, a non-profit organization that invests in the lives of underserved communities through education and entrepreneurship, and a professor at Kennesaw State University. He is a race scholar positioned to change the way schools and organizations function by revising policies and practices entrenched in white supremacy. As a college professor, he has over 15 years of extensive research in developing race-conscious programs and culturally relevant pedagogy.

His dossier personifies a progressive leadership style focused on race conscious pedagogy, policy reform, equitable recruitment and hiring practices, program assessment and equity audits & training. Dr. Ottley has earned a reputation as an influencer who embraces collaboration, transparency, inclusion and a commitment to data-informed decision making.

His list of contributions related to building viable and progressive organizations, include recruitment & hiring measures that support long-term growth, designing intentionally diverse teams, augmenting old traditions and practices with new, diverse policy that is reflective of the nation’s demographics, and improving organizations’ synergy through an assessment of culture & climate.

Who Should Attend?

About Shaping America's Education Agenda Series

We need an education agenda that makes equity a priority for schools and organizations serving our country’s most vulnerable children and their families. The ultimate goal of this series of events is to bring policy makers and members of the education community together to discuss shaping our educational agenda and pushing it to the front of public policy at local, state, and federal levels.