Closing the Nation's Racial Achievement Gaps I

THU, MAY 5, 2005 (1:29:15)

Organized by the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University, this series kicks off a forum entitled Race, Culture, and K-12 Achievement Gaps. Popular discourse among national leaders has assumed that some black and Latino youth are embedded in a culture that is oppositional to achievement and that this culture is a major impediment to narrowing the nation’s achievement gaps. The speakers present a more complex picture, identifying issues upon which future research will be helpful, and suggesting some practical implications of the emerging research consensus. Panelists include Prudence Carter, assistant professor of sociology, Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Ronald Ferguson, lecturer of public policy, Kennedy School of Government; and Mica Pollock, assistant professor of education, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

+ BIO: Prudence Carter

Prudence L. Carter is an associate professor in the School of Education and the Department of Sociology at Stanford. She teaches a range of courses on racial and ethnic relations, social and cultural inequality, the sociology of education, urban education and research methods. Professor Carter’s first book, Keepin’ It Real: School Success beyond Black and White (Oxford University Press 2005), is the 2006 co-winner of the Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award, (Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities, American Sociological Association) for its contribution to the eradication of racism; a 2005 finalist for the C. Wright Mills Book Award (Society for the Study of Social Problems); and an a 2007 honorable mention recipient of the distinguished book award (Section on Race, Class, and Gender, American Sociological Association). At present, Professor Carter is completing a book tentatively titled The Paradoxes of Opportunity: Race, Culture, and Boundaries in “Good” Schools, which documents a cross-national study of desegregated and majority-minority high schools in the United States and South Africa and examines how school practices can either facilitate or diminish academic and social divides in education.

+ BIO: Ronald Ferguson

Ronald F. Ferguson is an MIT-trained economist who focuses social science research on economic, social, and educational challenges. He has been on the faculty at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government since 1983, after full time appointments at Brandeis and Brown Universities. In 2014, he co-founded Tripod Education Partners and shifted into an adjunct role at the Kennedy School, where he remains a fellow at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy and faculty director of the university-wide Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI). During the 1980s and ’90s Ron focused much of his attention on economic and community development. That work culminated in the social science synthesis volume Urban Problems and Community Development (1999), which remains an important text in graduate policy courses. By the late 1980s, he had begun to study education and youth development because academic skill disparities were contributing to growing wage disparity. During the 1990s and early 2000s, his writings on the topic appeared in publications of the National Research Council, the Brookings Institution, the U.S. Department of Education, and various books and journals. In December 2007, Harvard Education Press published his book _Toward Excellence with Equity: An Emerging Vision for Closing the Achievement Gap_. A February 2011 profile of Ron in the New York Times wrote, “there is no one in America who knows more about the gap than Ronald Ferguson.” Ron’s current focus as AGI director is an initiative entitled the Boston Basics that is spreading to other cities in a Basics National Network. It takes a socio-ecological saturation approach, collaborating with many partners to reach extended families with caregiving advice for infants and toddlers. In addition, Ron is co-authoring a book with journalist Tatsha Robertson on the ways that highly successful people were parented. Ron holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from MIT, both in economics. He has been happily married for 39 years and is the father of two adult sons.

Harvard Graduate School of Education
African American Culture Series
Latino Culture Series