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The Power of Advocacy: Leveraging An Unprecedented Opportunity for Education Equity and Justice


Denise Forte

The pandemic ushered in a time of unprecedented crisis in education, with students experiencing months of interrupted or unfinished learning. Student performance data shows that all students' learning has been affected, but the impact is far greater for some student populations, particularly students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. Fortunately, this is also a time of unprecedented opportunity in education. Congress recognized the urgency of this moment to allocate $125 billion to schools through the American Rescue Plan. Effective advocacy-that which involves listening to, learning from, and working alongside students and families-is essential to ensuring that these vital resources both meet the level of need in this moment and help eliminate the systemic inequities in our education system that have been hundreds of years in the making. This presentation will feature Duke alumna Denise Forte, interim CEO; Lynn Jennings, Ph.D., senior director of national and state partnerships; and Eric Duncan, J.D., senior P-12 data and policy analyst for educator diversity; all with The Education Trust. Forte has more than two decades of experience in the federal legislative and executive branches advancing progressive education and family policy. She brings strategic leadership to the organization's efforts to engage policymakers and diverse coalitions of advocates in demanding and securing equity-advancing policy change at the national and state levels. Lynn Jennings leads Education Trust's initiatives to engage and mobilize a diverse group of advocates at the national, state, and local levels who are working to forever close gaps in opportunity and achievement. Jennings previously served as the senior legislative affairs associate at the Ed Trust and worked for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Eric Duncan specializes in policies related to educator quality and increasing the racial diversity of the educator workforce. Previously, Duncan was a state policy advisor at WestEd, where he supported the organization's federal and state policy strategy. This lecture is made possible through an endowment from the Arthur Sulzberger Family.


Alumni/Reunion, Diversity/Inclusion, Featured, Lecture/Talk, Social Sciences, United States Focus