Shaping America's Education Agenda:
Pushing Boundaries

May 17, 2021, marks the 67th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown vs. Board of Education, when the Supreme Court decided that school segregation was unconstitutional. This begs the question: Sixty-seven years later, are our schools really desegregated? The short answer is no. In fact, a 2019 study by the University of California, Los Angeles’ The Civil Rights Project and Penn State University’s Center for Education and Civil Rights highlights that intense levels of racial and economic segregation have been on the rise again since the 1990s.

Our virtual panel discussion will explore many of the factors that continue to propagate inequalities and segregation in our country’s schools, including but not limited to race, economic status, resources, teacher quality, and redistricting. How do we move beyond the discussion point to once again push boundaries to drive actionable change?

Virtual Panel Discussion
Thursday, May 20, 2021
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM CST

Who Should Attend?

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.

Speaker: Dr. Joy Lawson Davis

Dr. Joy Lawson Davis is an award-winning author, scholar, professional learning trainer, independent consultant, and equity activist. Her areas of expertise are culturally responsive teaching; equity and access in Gifted Education programs; and, meeting the needs of diverse gifted learners with multiple exceptionalities. Dr. Davis is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, School of Education/Gifted Education.

She holds two degrees in Gifted Education from the College of William & Mary and was the Associate Professor & Chair of the Dept. of Teacher Education at Virginia Union University, as well as Assistant Professor of the School of Education at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, where she taught undergraduate & graduate coursework in Teacher Education and Gifted Education.

She also served five years on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Children.

Speaker: Dr. Donna Simpson Leak

Dr. Donna Leak is the Superintendent of Community Consolidated Schools District 168 in Sauk Village, IL, and serves as the Vice Chair of the Illinois State Board of Education. As Vice Chair of the State Board, she has been instrumental in updates to the mission, vision, goals, equity statement and updated strategic plan for the state of Illinois. Under her tenure in District 168, the district has made major facility updates, including playgrounds, new flooring, a renovated track at the Junior High School, new water filtration system at all buildings, and Media Center renovations in a two-year window of time. Her efforts have also increased the integration of technology at all levels within the district, including chrome books and hot spots for all students. The district has seen considerable improvements in academics, technology and social emotional needs for children. In December 2014, she was named the Sauk Village Person of the year for her work in the school district, and in 2021, she was named the Illinois Superintendent of the Year for her efforts. Previously, she served as the Superintendent of Rich Township High School District 227. Under her leadership, the District received numerous awards and recognition, including Best High Schools in America Bronze Winners Rich East in 2009, 2010, 2012 and Rich Central in 2012.

Student Panelist: Talib Becktemba-Goss

Talib is on the Student Advisory Council for the Illinois State Board of Education and is a Senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, IL.

Student Panelist: Kiersten Hornberg

Kiersten is on the Student Advisory Council for the Illinois State Board of Education and is a Senior at Huntley High School in Huntley, IL.

Student Panelist: Hannah Lawrence

Hannah is on the Student Advisory Council for the Illinois State Board of Education and is a Senior at Lane Tech College Prep in Chicago, IL.

Student Panelist: Eric Veal, Jr.

Eric is on the Student Advisory Council for the Illinois State Board of Education and is a Junior at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, IL.

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.