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High School Students Demand Quality Education: Urban Youths Speak Out April 25

Members of Baltimore Algebra Project Speak on Successful Protests Against School Inequities

BOSTON (April 11, 2007) — Disproving the myth that today's urban youth are indifferent about the quality of their education, recent graduates of an urban Baltimore high school — who vigorously and successfully protested the city school system's educational inequities through civil disobedience and court action — will talk about how they made a difference, April 25 at a Simmons College community forum.

The discussion by members of the student-run Baltimore Algebra Project will take place from 4-6 p.m., in the Linda K. Paresky Conference Center, 300 The Fenway in Boston. Admission is free and open to the public.

The Baltimore Algebra Project is a student tutorial organization whose members pressured city and state officials through walkouts, rallies, suing their own school system for reneging funding on a contract, and recently filing a motion to take over the Maryland state school board.

A discussion with Boston-area educators and civic leaders will follow the talk, which is part of the "Race, Culture, Identity and Achievement" lecture series — a groundbreaking initiative conceived by Simmons College Education and Africana Studies Professor Theresa Perry.

Harkening back to student-sponsored protests in the Civil Rights era, the Baltimore Algebra Project gained widespread attention for organizing multiple rallies against the Baltimore city school administration and the Maryland State Department of Education for funding inequities. The Algebra Project became influential among Baltimore school officials, even arguing in 2003 for the enforcement of a years old circuit court judge's ruling that additional funds be appropriated to the Baltimore city public schools, after he determined that the state had been unlawfully under-funding the school system.

Among the event's speakers are Christopher M. Goodman, a 2006 graduate of Baltimore City College High School; Charnell D. Convert, a 2005 graduate of Baltimore City College High School; and Jay Gillen, coordinator of the Baltimore City Schools Algebra Project, who will discuss the support the students needed to carry out their many campaigns. Also speaking is Charles Payne, professor of history, sociology, and African American Studies at Duke University and author of the award-winning book "I've Got the Light of Freedom: the Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle." Payne will discuss the correlation between the Baltimore students' experience and student organizers of the Civil Rights Movement.

The "Race, Culture, Identity and Achievement" lecture series brings to Boston community forums, nationally known scholars, who specialize in academic achievement for students of color. The series creates a location for teachers, teacher-educators, community leaders, and involved citizens to engage in a sustained conversation about how race, culture, and identity are implicated in the school achievement of Boston's increasingly multiracial and multiethnic student population.

The series sponsors include the Boston Center for Leadership Development of the Boston Public School System, Lesley University, the Schott Foundation, the Boston Children's Museum, and Northeastern University. For more information on the "Race, Culture, Identity and Achievement" lecture series, visit www.achievementseminars.com.

Simmons College has a pioneering undergraduate college for women and graduate programs for women and men in social work, management, health studies, library and information science, and liberal arts.

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