"Educational Justice: Opportunity, Inclusion and Social Equity for All"
More than 260 educators, students and observers came together to examine ways of securing educational equity for learners at all levels during St. John’s University’s Eighth Biennial Vincentian Chair of Social Justice Conference on Saturday, October 26.
Entitled “Educational Justice: Opportunity, Inclusion, and Social Equity for All,” and sponsored by the Vincentian Center for Church and Society and the Vincentian Chair of Social Justice, the conference explored the contemporary erosion of education’s historic role in helping to alleviate poverty and social inequality in the United States and around the world—and possible solutions to the problem.
Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., Ed.D., president of DePaul University in Chicago, delivered the keynote address, “What Shall We Do: The Eroding Social Contract Toward U.S. Higher Education.” Fr. Holtschneider emphasized the increasing difficulty young people experience—both those in poverty and the middle class—in gaining access to and being adequately prepared for college. He traced the effects of declining government support and urged the participants to be strong advocates for assuring educational opportunity.
The conference also dealt with the current state of education, and the forces advancing and inhibiting “educational justice.” An interdisciplinary faculty panel composed of Vincentian Research Fellows reflected on the nexus of poverty and education from the legal, economic, political and social impact perspectives.
The conference concluded with an address by Jim Ziolkowski, founder, president and CEO of buildOn, a nonprofit organization that builds schools in developing countries and runs community service program for at risk high school and college students in America. Ziolkowski challenged the audience and those from external agencies and institutions to commit to finding ways to assure opportunity, inclusion and social equity for all.