USC series stresses educational issues
Each year, 1.2 million U.S. students drop out of high school, with less than 60 percent of black and Latino students making it to graduation.
These and other sobering statistics are the impetus for EdMonth, a two-week event series sponsored by the USC Program Board and the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). All eight of the board’s assemblies collaborated over a six-month period to plan the events, which were streamed to USC’s EdMonth partner institutions, including UCLA, Northern Kentucky University and Ithaca College.
“EdMonth is an open and honest dialogue about educational issues that this country faces every day,” said USG president-elect Michael Geragos. “By having these events, we can bring light to the problems of education in America, which is the only way to find potential solutions to what we are facing.”
The series kicked off March 19 with a celebration in Hahn Plaza featuring Traveler, the USC Trojan Marching Band, Program Board members, USC vice president for student affairs Michael L. Jackson and Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry ’77, PPA ’81, who represents Los Angeles’ Ninth District.
“The reason that we have colleges like USC,” Jackson said, “is that we’re helping to develop students that will lead our society and that will take responsibility for the very difficult task that we have ahead of us.”
Perry added, “We need young leaders to continue to push for and support efforts to improve educational opportunities.”
At the “Education Revolution” panel, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa introduced several education experts, including Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach for America; Mónica García, president of the Los Angeles Unified School District board; Marshall Tuck, CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools; and Karen Symms Gallagher, dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. Panelists reflected on the problems facing the educational system, often coming back to one of EdMonth’s main themes: inequity.
“We are a country that’s known around the world for its aspiration to be a place of equal opportunity,” Kopp said, “and yet where you’re born – your socioeconomic status – is more predictive of your educational outcome here in the U.S. than in any other advanced country.”
The discussion highlighted the ways that students can address these problems. After the series ends, the Program Board will collect ideas from students at USC and its EdMonth partner institutions to create an action plan, which will be distributed nationwide.