Race and class have perpetually been at the forefront of educational policy and debate. We will examine why research shows minority students and students from lower socio-economic classes tend to perform lower, as a group, on standardized tests. We will also look into programs created to combat this concern. The conference will go further and address whether such programs have benefited these students upon their advancing to higher education. Some of the factors speakers will consider include college admissions, retention rates in higher education, and graduation rates.
Studies show that male students are not achieving at the same rate as their female counterparts. Some advocates for single-sex education argue that the separation benefits both female and male students for various reasons. Some researchers suggest that children from lower socio-economic families would greatly benefit from single-sex education, helping to combat the socio-economic based achievement gap. Opponents of single-sex education do not see separation as the solution, but rather as a division based on sexist ideologies. They argue that male and female students should learn in a co-educational environment. The conference will host speakers presenting various views on the benefits and harms of single sex education.
Special education is a complex field with many legal, social, and ethical implications. The main legislation affecting special education, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is currently being revised and reauthorized. Theoretical and practical applications of IDEA divide proponents on both sides of special education. While some speakers will address the reauthorization of IDEA, others will concentrate on the provisions therein. In particular, the speakers will examine the balance between the least restrictive environment (LRE) and a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).
Conflicts arise regarding appropriate teaching methods for children who come from non English speaking home environments and communities. Some policymakers argue that school systems should provide bilingual and/or English as a Second Language (ESL) programs to students who are not proficient in English to provide them with an equal educational opportunity. Others argue for total English immersion. The conference will host speakers with a variety of perspectives on bilingual and ESL programs.
Countless students have reported incidents of discrimination, harassment, and abuse based on sexual orientation in a plethora of school districts. Many teachers and administrators have ignored the problem, making school a scary, and often dangerous, place for gay and lesbian students. Students have repeatedly transferred schools, and in some cases dropped out due to these pressures.