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Chuck Carney
Director, communications and media relations, IU School of Education

Last modified: Thursday, April 26, 2012

School of Education presents speaker on equity and inclusivity in urban school reform

April 26, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the country's leading researchers on issues of equity and inclusivity in the context of urban school reform efforts will speak at 5 p.m. Monday, April 30, at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Elizabeth Kozleski

Elizabeth Kozleski

Print-Quality Photo

Elizabeth Kozleski, professor in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University and the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Education, will give an address at the IUPUI University Library's Lilly Auditorium. The talk, "The Landscape of Urban School Reform for Equity and Inclusivity," is sponsored by the IU School of Education at IUPUI and the Great Lakes Equity Center and is free and open to the public.

Kozleski is known internationally for her research on inclusive education, earning her the 2011 Pearson-Merrill Award for Excellence in Teacher Education from the Council for Exceptional Children. She has led several centers that provide technical assistance to districts around the U.S. and that disseminate best practices for principals to build inclusive schools.

"Her focus is on building inclusive education systems where all students are educated within general education classrooms with high-quality opportunities to learn," said Kathleen King Thorius, assistant professor of special education at IUPUI. "That often involves addressing multiple areas of policy and practice across the system."

Thorius said Kozleski will focus on highlights from two national efforts she led that dealt directly with issues of inclusiveness and equity, particularly in urban schools settings.

"Through the National Institute for Urban School Improvement (housed at Arizona State), Dr. Kozleski led efforts over several years to work in the 40 largest urban districts in the United States," she said. Thorius said Kozleski's direct efforts with districts, building administrators and classroom teachers included resource distribution issues, developing and improving school and community partnerships, and gathering better data to inform practice.

"The other center, the National Center for Culturally Responsive Education Systems (at the University of Colorado-Denver and Arizona State), focused on eliminating the disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in special education," Thorius said. "Dr. Kozleski engaged and led a number of efforts across the United States to address that disproportionate representation at the state and the district level."

Monday's presentation will provide examples of promising work that can inform practitioners in Indiana. For that reason, Thorius said the event will be informative for a variety of education stakeholders, including administrators, state policymakers, students, families and concerned community members.

The event is underwritten by a special education programs grant from the U.S. Department of Education originally awarded to Pat Rogan, executive associate dean of the IU School of Education at IUPUI. It is part of a comprehensive program review being conducted by principal investigator Mary Jo Dare, clinical associate professor of special education, and directed by Thorius, designed to better prepare highly qualified teachers with certification in general education and special education.

Kozleski's visit is also supported in part by the recently created Great Lakes Equity Center to highlight issues of equity and inclusivity. The center is a regional Equity Assistance Center, a federally funded office intended to provide technical assistance in the areas of civil rights, equity and access, and school reform. The IUPUI center opened in the fall to serve Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

"Dr. Kozleski will emphasize and highlight some of the entrenched equity issues that exist, not only in Indiana but across the six-state region that the Great Lakes Equity Center serves," Thorius said. "In our region, over 50 percent of the Office of Civil Rights complaints that are filed are around issues of disability, and most of those complaints are around issues of where and how, but particularly where racial and ethnic minority students are educated as part of special education programs. I think that Dr. Kozleski will be able to bring to the forefront some of the equity issues that need to be addressed within the context of education reform at large, and that tend to take a back seat to other issues."