Although the once great American public school system may seem to be failing, bad schools can be fixed, and great public education is still possible for all students, says renowned education expert and UC Berkeley professor David L. Kirp, who will speak at UCLA's Korn Auditorium on Wednesday, April 24, at 5 p.m. Admission to the event is free, and the public is invited to attend.
Kirp will discuss his new book, "Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America's Schools" (Oxford University Press), and share his thoughts on reigniting public education as part of the Dean's Distinguished Speaker Series presented by the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSE&IS). 
After his talk, Kirp will join a panel discussion with GSE&IS dean and distinguished professor Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco and UCLA education professor Patricia L. Gándara, who co-directs the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, a UCLA research center that focuses on issues of equity and access in public education and the needs of English-language learners. A Q&A session with audience members will follow.
Kirp, the James D. Marver Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy and a member of President Obama's 2008 election transition team, has spent more than four decades working on education policy.
"As a policy expert, David L. Kirp is without equal in education reform. His years of experience of working on education policy and practice show that effective solutions for bringing immigrant students and others from poor communities into the educational mainstream are entirely possible and within reach," said Suárez-Orozco, an internationally recognized scholar whose own work examines the crossroads of education, globalization and immigration. "We are honored to have him."
Kirp's research in "Improbable Scholars" draws on the poor, densely populated community of mostly Latino immigrants in Union City, N.J., where a majority of students come from homes in which only Spanish is spoken and the unemployment rate is 60 percent higher than the national average. Kirp spent a year there, examining how one of the New Jersey's worst school systems — once threatened with state takeover — made a turnaround over a 25-year period to become the model educational system it is today.
Kirp asserts that rebuilding America's schools does not require complicated solutions or trendy reforms. Instead, he argues that in order to turn failing schools around and close the achievement gap for all students, quality early education is invaluable and cannot be overlooked, along with a word-rich curriculum and hands-on help for teachers. Any effective national strategy for school reform, he says, must start with pre-kindergarten and carry on through high school.  
Complimentary parking for the event will be available in Parking Structure 5 (map). Because seating is limited, the public is encouraged to R.S.V.P. in advance at
The UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSE&IS) includes both the department of education and the department of information studies. Together, the two embody the school's commitment to understanding and improving educational practice, information systems and policy in a diverse society. GSE&IS's academic programs bring together faculty and students committed to expanding the range of knowledge in education, information science and associated disciplines. Its professional programs seek to develop librarians, teachers, administrators and information professionals within the enriched context of a research university.
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