2023 Issues Forum Focuses on Racial Equity in Education

By Alan Richard November 15, 2023 Uncategorized

November 14, 2023

Contact: Alan Richard, arichard@southerneducation.org, cell (202) 641-1300

2023 Issues Forum Focuses on Racial Equity in Education 

CHARLOTTE, NC – The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) 2023 Issues Forum, Miles To Go: Fulfilling the Promise of Racial Equity in Education, is happening Nov. 14-17 in Charlotte, NC. This historic conference brings together hundreds of education leaders, advocates, educators, students, and other allies to build an agenda for addressing the South’s most important issues in education — resource inequities, racial segregation, access to early childhood education, and more.

Speakers scheduled to appear at the Issues Forum include U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15, and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon on a 12 p.m. panel of civil rights experts the same day. The noon panel will be moderated by Georgetown Law Center professor and regular MSNBC legal commentator Paul Butler.

The Issues Forum held a kickoff event on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. with a panel discussion of people involved in the desegregation of Charlotte schools moderated by former Charlotte TV news anchor Sterlin Benson Webber. 

Public schools in the South often receive less funding compared to schools in the rest of the country, disproportionately impacting students of color and those living in poverty. This is further exacerbated by the teacher shortage crisis, particularly in the South, a lag in teacher salaries in many Southern states, and the South’s forward movement being threatened by political conflicts sometimes rooted in race. All these factors have highlighted the need for the SEF Issues Forum, which will help elevate the need for greater learning opportunities for low-income students and students of color in the South.

“The disparities in education across the Southern states are stark, with insufficient resources, continued racial segregation, and economic challenges hindering the progress of our students. This conference arrives at a pivotal moment for our nation and the South and represents a call to action. By addressing these critical issues head-on and fostering collaboration among educators, advocates, and leaders, we can pave the way for a brighter, more equitable future for all students in the South,” said Raymond C. Pierce, president and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation.

“Together, we can fulfill the promise of racial equity in education and ensure that every child has the opportunity to succeed regardless of background and strengthen America’s competitive capabilities through a better-educated workforce,” Pierce said.

Key conference sessions:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 14 Kick-Off Event: Celebration and Reflection of a History
  • Wednesday, Nov. 15 Plenary: A New Day for Early Learners in the South: Steps Toward More Successful Starts
  • Wednesday, Nov. 15 Plenary: Desegregation Strategies of the Past, Resegregation in the Present, Strategies for Education Equity in the Future
  • Thursday, Nov. 16 Plenary: Making K-12 Education Resources More Equitable for Students Enrolled in Historically Underinvested Schools
  • Thursday, Nov. 16 Plenary: Making College Opportunity More Equitable in a Post-Affirmative Action World
  • Friday, Nov. 17 Plenary: The Wisdom of Youth: Students’ Vision for Improving Education in the South

Charlotte has a rich history steeped in education. Gathering here provides SEF with the opportunity to acknowledge the significance of the Swann v. Mecklenburg County Board of Education case from the early 1970s, the late Julius Chambers, and other influential leaders who contributed to the desegregation of public schools in the Southern states. As the 70th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision approaches, SEF is providing leadership at this pivotal moment in education, the South, and the broader national landscape.


The Southern Education Foundation is a 155-year-old education and civil rights organization based in Atlanta. We work to improve education in 17 states and across the nation, with an emphasis on Black students and students from low-income families.

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