By Alana Serfaty
Learn Together, Live Together (LTLT) hosted an event last month at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC to celebrate its official launch and engage members of the community in a panel discussion with former U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King of The Education Trust. More than 100 supporters of school diversity and equity attended and were invited to learn more about how to get involved with the school diversity movement on both a local and national level. Organizational partners, including The Century Foundation (TCF) and The National Coalition on School Diversity, sponsored and attended the event.
The evening began with a brief networking reception and opening words of welcome by LTLT’s co-founders, Chris Suarez and Jenna Tomasello, followed by a conversation with Mr. King. The room was filled with a variety of attendees, each having their own unique connection to the movement. By the time the panel began, there was a standing-room-only audience.
The conversation was hosted by LTLT’s own leaders Kimberly Quick of TCF and Andrew Hanson of the Strada Institute for the Future of Work. Kimberly and Andrew alternated asking Mr. King salient questions about the current climate of the school diversity movement, challenges that those in the movement face, and innovative ways to address those challenges moving forward. At the end of the questions, the audience asked Mr. King questions.
Some of the key topics discussed included how to address the discrepancy between neighborhood demographics and the demographics of DC schools, which are disproportionately segregated; what steps need to be taken to “sell” less diverse schools to White families in order to integrate them into the school; barriers to increasing equity in schools that are less diverse, including issues of school governance; national trends in school diversity and equity; and the most effective ways for people at all levels to solve these problems.
The panel was both informative and engaging, and offered a frank and direct perspective on the issues. The panelists conveyed deep knowledge on the topics, while allowing for input and open discussion from those in attendance throughout a lengthy Q&A session. The panel discussion left attendees with a lot to digest, and attendees continued their conversations with Mr. King and others for more than an hour in an open networking session.
During the final networking portion of the event, LTLT raffled off prizes, attendees pondered over fact sheets about DC housing and school segregation, and attendees reflected on several topics, including the contributing factors to school segregation; ways for residents to promote diversity and equity in DC; and what “learn together” means to them.
By the end of the night, attendees were left with a new perspective on the school diversity movement, new connections within the movement, and plenty of notes from the panel discussion to ponder and explore further. LTLT intends to build off the momentum this successful event as it looks toward the future of the school diversity movement in DC and beyond.