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Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools

April 2, 2013, 9:30am ET - 11:00am ET

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About This Event

President Barack Obama’s call for expanded access to preschool in his State of the Union address has raised national awareness of the transformative benefits of high-quality preschool, especially for low-income children and English language learners. Among other impacts, access to early learning is a fundamental element in helping children reach the key academic milestone of reading proficiently by the end of third grade.

One urban city—Union City, New Jersey—has seen the benefits of a long-term strategy reaching from preschool to high school, which includes strong early elementary schooling and pre-kindergarten for almost all 3- and 4-year-olds as essential pieces of their turnaround approach. The district’s subsequent educational achievement is striking and speaks for itself.

Please join us for a discussion about the seven guiding principles that helped transform Union City’s educational system. Professor David Kirp will speak about his research on Union City’s school system and present findings from his new book, Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools. Ralph Smith will discuss the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, an initiative to increase the number of children from low-income families reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Finally, our distinguished group of panelists will discuss current and future efforts to build high-quality public education for all children and to create a comprehensive and aligned pre-kindergarten to third-grade early-learning approach.

Introductory remarks:
Cynthia G. Brown, Vice President, Education Policy, Center for American Progress

Featured speakers:
David Kirp, Professor of Public Policy, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California
Ralph Smith, Senior Vice President, The Annie E. Casey Foundation; Managing Director, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Robert Slavin, Director, Center for Research and Reform in Education, Johns Hopkins University School of Education; co-founder and chairman, Success for All Foundation
Adriana Birne, Principal of Early Childhood Education, Union City Public Schools
Stanley Sanger, Superintendent, Union City Public Schools

Moderated by:
Sara Mead, Principal, Bellwether Education Partners

Breakfast will be served at 9:00 a.m.


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Center for American Progress
1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC20005

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Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center