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Leading Historian on Black Education Addresses Achievement Gap at National Public Forum on Race and Education, March 14&15 in Boston

James D. Anderson To Speak at Simmons College/Beacon Press "Race, Education and Democracy" Series

BOSTON (February 23, 2007) — Challenging the belief by some that African Americans don't value education and academic achievement, a leading historian on black education will present powerful, historic evidence to the contrary, to help educators, activists and policy makers get at the real reasons for the education achievement gap.

The lecture is part of the second annual Simmons College/Beacon Press "Race, Education and Democracy" Lecture and Book Series, March 14 & 15 and April 5 & 6 at Simmons College, 300 The Fenway, in the Linda K. Paresky Conference Center.

All lectures are from 4-6 p.m., and are free and open to the public. (To register, please call Nancy Oretega at 617-521-2626. Note, parking on campus is unavailable. Please visit the college's website for parking alternatives.)

Each year the series brings a nationally recognized education scholar to Simmons to deliver several lectures, each followed by discussions among education and civic leaders on topics such as how race in America's classrooms affects achievement, and lessons learned in recent federal desegregation cases.

The 2007 speaker James D. Anderson, Ph.D., is the nation's leading historian on black education. He is head of the Department of Educational Policy at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and author of the award-winning book, "The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1953." Anderson, a senior editor at the History of Education Quarterly magazine, has served as an expert witness in several federal desegregation and affirmative actions cases, including Gratz v. Bollinger and Jenkins v. Missouri.

Anderson's March 14 lecture is "The Historical and Contemporary Value of Education in African American Communities." His March 15 lecture is "African American Struggles to Reduce the Achievement Gap: Lessons for Educators, Community Activists, and Policy Makers."

Anderson and other experts in African American education say the achievement gap is not primarily about motivation, but instead based on issues of resources, expectations, teaching practices, and larger society's misbeliefs about African Americans.

Beacon Press, a historical, highly respected independent publisher based in Boston, will publish the lectures as a book. Beacon Press has published numerous groundbreaking books on a wide range of societal issues, notably Cornel West's "Race Matters," as well as dozens of highly acclaimed works in the field of education.

Anderson's other 2007 Simmons College/Beacon Press lectures are:

April 5: "The Historical Context for Understanding Race Conscious Means to Educational Equality: Lessons from the Louisville and Seattle School Desegregation Cases"

April 6: "Civic Education, Citizenship and Immigration: Race and Democracy on the 150th Anniversary of the Dred Scott Decision"

The 2006 "Race, Education and Democracy" speaker was Spelman College President Beverly Tatum, whose lectures have been adopted into a book called "Can We Talk about Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation," which will be released at the April 5 lecture. Tatum will return to Simmons to introduce Anderson's lecture and hold a book signing.

Theresa Perry, Ed.D., series director and Simmons College professor of Africana studies and education, said the series was conceived "to reestablish for the public the historic connection between public education and the possibility of a robust democracy, against the backdrop of the issue of race in America."

The series is funded in part by the Lowell Institute. To register or for more information about the series, visit or call Nancy Ortega at 617-521-2626.

Simmons College has a pioneering undergraduate college for women; renowned graduate programs for women and men in social work, health studies, library and information science, and liberal arts; and the nation's only MBA program designed for women.