University News

UCLA to host White House summit on education for African-Americans

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David Johns

UCLA faculty, graduate students and recent graduates are among those scheduled to participate Friday in a White House forum on campus aimed at improving the education outcomes of African- Americans.

“In light of recent events, from Baltimore to Ferguson to Charleston, it is essential that we take stock in the lessons and practices born from our students’ pursuit of educational excellence,” said Marcus Anthony Hunter, a UCLA assistant professor of sociology and African American studies. “Given its role as the major public university in Los Angeles and the recent departmentalization of African American Studies, UCLA is a crucial and fruitful venue for these important discussions.”

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans was established by President Barack Obama to help address the achievement gap between African-American and white students in reading and math proficiency, high school completion and college graduation. The summit (PDF) is part of a nationwide effort to establish a national network of educators and identify best practices to improve African-American students’ performance in school.

“The idea of the summit is that the youth take the lead and the adults listen,” said Darnell Hunt, professor of sociology and director of the UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies. 

David Johns, executive director of the White House initiative, said, “The summit provides us with an opportunity to hear form those most impacted by the decisions adults make. We’re hopeful that our efforts to highlight the importance of listening to students and to responding to their needs and recommendations improve both policy and practice.”

The summit will conclude with a panel featuring Hunter and Hunt, as well as Cheryl Harris, professor of law and chair of the African American studies department, and Tyrone Howard, professor of education and director of UCLA’s Black Male Institute. The scholars will respond to ideas from student participants and offer recommendations to Johns to forward to the Obama administration. 

The summit is sponsored by community partners including the Brotherhood Crusade, the Magic Johnson Foundation, the Scholars Strategy Network and United Teachers of Los Angeles. Campus cosponsors are the Division of Social Sciences, the departments of sociology and African American studies, the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and the Black Male Institute.

The summit is scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m., Friday, June 26, at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute (map). RSVP here.

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