2023 SEF Issues Forum Agenda

Nov. 14-17 in Charlotte, NC

The Southern Education Foundation’s 2023 Issues Forum, Miles to Go: Fulfilling the Promise of Racial Equity in Education, is set for Nov. 14-17, 2023, at The Westin in Charlotte, NC. At the Forum, we will gather to discuss education justice during plenary panels and over 30 breakout sessions led by practitioners, researchers, and other professionals. Find an overview of the forum agenda below and register now to stay up to date as more details are announced.

More details, including the breakout session schedule, can be found on the Whova event platform here.


2023 SEF Issues Forum Agenda

Tuesday, Nov. 14

6 – 8:30 p.m.
Kick-Off Event- The Celebration and Reflection of a History
Charlotte’s legacy and importance in the movement to desegregate the nation’s schools cannot be overstated. To kick off the 2023 SEF Issues Forum, we are gathering at the Foundation For The Carolinas to honor important figures in Charlotte’s history who point us toward the questions confronting us today around racial segregation and the opportunities students need now and in the future.

Scheduled Speakers:

  • Dorothy Counts Scoggins, one of the first Black students admitted to Harry Harding High School in 1956.
  • James E. Ferguson II, who worked as a young lawyer under the late Julius Chambers on Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Schools Supreme Court case and related cases
  • Arthur Griffin, who served for 17 years on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education and as chairman from 1997 to 2002.
  • Justin Perry, a former student activist who opposed resegregation in the district

Wednesday, Nov. 15

9 -9:45 a.m.
Opening remarks by SEF Chief Operating Officer Kenita Williams and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, followed by a conversation between SEF President and CEO Raymond C. Pierce and Deputy Secretary Marten.

9:45 – 10:45 a.m.
Plenary Session –
A New Day for Early Learners in the South: Steps Toward More Successful Starts
Early childhood experts from across the country will discuss new strategies in state policy and advocacy to make support systems for young children more equitable. Researchers also will present new data on how the federal government can more equitably fund the broader early childhood education ecosystem.


11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Breakout Sessions

12:30-1:30 p.m.
Plenary Session – Desegregation Strategies of the Past, Resegregation in the Present, Strategies for Education Equity in the Future

Leading education and civil rights advocates — and federal education officials — will discuss desegregation strategies that have worked, where school segregation stands today, and possible new strategies for addressing it in the future.

Scheduled Speakers:

1:45 – 3 p.m. and 3:15 – 4 p.m.
Breakout Sessions

4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Networking Reception

Thursday, Nov. 16

9:15 – 10:30 p.m.
Plenary Session –
Making K-12 Education Resources More Equitable for Students Enrolled in Historically Underinvested Schools
Many schools today face a host of opportunity gaps and funding disparities that present major challenges to improving educational outcomes for all students, particularly students of color. How can we learn from our past and present to develop new solutions for addressing disparities in funding and other resources, rising racial segregation, and other key issues in education?


10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Breakout Sessions

12:30 – 1:15 p.m.
Special Session –
Higher Education in the Deep South: 60 Years After the Stand in the Door

Much has changed since segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama’s Foster Auditorium to block the entrance of Black enrollees Vivian Malone and James Hood on June 11, 1963. However, the legacy of segregation in the Deep South remains, even as we look forward to a more equitable future in postsecondary education. How did we get to where we are now, and where can we go from here?


  • Dr. Nathaniel Bray, Professor of Higher Education Administration, University of Alabama
  • Dr. Stephen Katsinas, Director, Educational Policy Center, University of Alabama
  • Noel Keeney, Graduate Research Assistant, Education Policy Center, University of Alabama
  • Moderator: Dr. Max Altman, Director of Research and Policy, Southern Education Foundation

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Breakout Sessions

2:45 – 4 p.m.
Plenary Session –
Making College Opportunity More Equitable in a Post-Affirmative Action World
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2023 ruling on affirmative action in college admissions, how can the South and nation strengthen resolve to help more Black and Latinx students attend and succeed in college? Leaders, experts, and scholars will discuss the changing higher education landscape.


Friday, Nov. 17

9:15 – 10:30 a.m.
Plenary Session –
The Wisdom of Youth: Students’ Vision for Improving Education in the South: Students are becoming more active in education policy issues and were instrumental in efforts to defeat universal private school vouchers in Georgia, Texas, and other states this year. What do young people say that we need to improve our public schools, colleges and universities, and educational opportunities in our communities and across the country?


Closing remarks by SEF Chief Operating Officer Dr. Kenita Williams

10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Breakout sessions