Educational Equity Expert to Visit WIU Campuses Nov 4. and 5
October 15, 2013
MOLINE/MACOMB, IL – Educational equity expert Hugh Mehan, special project director at the Center for Research in Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), will visit Western Illinois University's campuses in Macomb and the Quad Cities in early November on a two-day junket to deliver presentations, participate in roundtable discussions and engage with students and faculty in WIU classes.
Mehan's visit to Western is being organized through the Expanding Cultural Diversity Project at WIU.
At 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, Mehan, who is also a professor emeritus of sociology at UCSD, will present his keynote address, "The Challenges of Achieving Educational Equity in the Neoliberal Era: Lessons Learned from 12 Years of Detracking Schools in San Diego" on the WIU-QC Riverfront Campus, rooms 103-104. The following day, Tuesday, Nov. 5, Mehan will be on the WIU Macomb campus and will deliver his keynote talk again at 12:30 p.m. in the University Union Sandburg Theatre. Both presentations are open free to the public.
According to Janice Welsch, WIU professor emerita and co-director of the WIU Expanding Cultural Diversity Project, after Mehan's keynote address, he will participate in a dialogue with local Quad Cities' educators. Organized by faculty from the educational and interdisciplinary studies and sociology/anthropology departments, the discussion will cover educational issues and reflect Mehan's interest in local educational initiatives and his commitment to public sociology, an approach that allows "theory and practice to be linked by socially engaged research."
"Dr. Mehan is well qualified to address issues related to educational equity, given his distinguished research career and his deep involvement to affect school reform in San Diego's disadvantaged neighborhoods," explained Gordon Chang, assistant professor in WIU's sociology/anthropology department. "His efforts have included building a grades six-12 single-track, college-prep school on the UCSD campus, forming partnerships with schools in low-income neighborhoods and assisting other universities to build similar university-school-community collaborations."
According to Chang (who has been instrumental in bringing Mehan to WIU), in his pursuit of social justice in education, Mehan has had to counter claims that children from low-income families, which traditionally have been underrepresented in higher education, are not able to do college-level work; that charter schools undermine public education; and that K-12 reform is not a university's responsibility.
"He has argued many major reform efforts of the past decade, asserting that 'privatization, standards and accountability regimens, and voucher plans' have led to 'the reduction of educational opportunities and support for economically disadvantaged students.' The reforms he has championed in San Diego have demonstrated, given appropriate structural arrangements and resource investment, low-income students can be admitted into four-year universities at a rate significantly higher than national averages," Chang added.
Earlier on Monday Nov. 4 at WIU-QC, Mehan will meet with students studying communication and liberal arts and sciences. When he's in Macomb, Tuesday, Nov. 5, in the morning, he will meet with faculty and students in the sociology/ anthropology department, as well as participate in a roundtable discussion on discourse analysis at 3:30 p.m. in Horrabin Hall 1. This session is also open free to the public.
"Aligned with his commitment to educational equity is Mehan's ongoing scholarship in discourse analysis. His 'politics of representation' research led him to analyze the history curriculum in school textbooks and local educational politics as well as the discourse on the Cold War, the 'war on terrorism,' and immigration debates," Welsch said. "In the Tuesday roundtable, participants will be invited to discuss the status of discourse analysis in their own fields and to consider the impact of language on how organizations and policies operate."
Mehan's socially engaged scholarship, skill as a teacher and outstanding contributions to anthropology, applied sociology and education have been recognized through awards from various colleges, universities and professional organizations, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Educational Research Association. Books he has authored, co-authored or edited include: "In College's Front Door," "Extending School Reform" and "Reform as Learning."
Co-sponsors for Mehan's visit to WIU include Western's Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR); College of Arts and Sciences; the Office of the Vice President for QC, Planning and Technology; and the sociology/anthropology and educational and interdisciplinary studies departments.
For more information, contact Chang at GC-Chang@wiu.edu.