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Dallas mayor, community leaders meet at SMU to discuss education

"From Your Block to the Boardroom" examines challenges facing new DISD superintendent

May 2, 2012

SMU 'From Your Block to the Boardroom' mastheadDallas Mayor Mike Rawlings will join North Texas leaders in a public discussion on the community’s ethical role in supporting public education May 7, 2012 at SMU.

As Mike Miles prepares to take over as DISD superintendent, “From Your Block to the Boardroom” is designed to begin a conversation about the community’s role in supporting excellence in education.

The panel discussion, including breakfast, is set for 7:30–9:30 a.m. at the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom on the third floor of SMU’s Umphrey Lee Center, 3300 Dyer St. Tickets are $50 for the public, $25 for SMU employees, and are available online at block2boardroom.eventbrite.com.

David J. Chard, dean of SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, will moderate the panel, which will include the Rev. Gerald Britt, vice president of CitySquare’s public policy and community program development; Florencia Velasco Fortner, CEO of Dallas Concilio; Torrence H. Robinson, Fluor Foundation senior director of community affairs; Bill McKenzie, Dallas Morning News columnist; and Todd Williams, executive director of Commit!.

“Our efforts with schools need to be sustained, and we hope that our dialogue at SMU can be the first in a series of discussions to determine how the community can make a difference and bolster the education of all students,” Chard says.

Rita Kirk, director of SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility, will provide the ethical framework for the discussion. “We expect our school administrators and elected officials to hold the public trust and represent the best interests of our children, but what do we expect of our neighbor or local business, or even ourselves?” she says. Kirk will join Regina Nippert, executive director for SMU’s Center on Communities and Education and Mayor Rawlings in underscoring the vital importance of supporting public education.

“With only 13 percent of public school students in Dallas County graduating on time and being ready for college — and only 4 percent of Hispanic and African-American students — the challenges are daunting. That number needs to be 90 percent,” says Todd Williams of Commit!. “It won’t happen overnight, but if we’re willing to recognize that everyone within our community needs to come together and work collectively to lift up and fully support what is working, we can make serious progress on behalf of our kids.”

The breakfast is the first in a series of dialogues calling on public involvement in education. To launch community involvement, an interactive tool developed by a Dallas-based social startup will be unveiled to explain key issues and resources available for organizing group discussions.

Hosts of the program are SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility and Center on Communities and Education.

For more details, contact Candy Crespo at ccrespo@smu.edu or 214-768-3436.

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