Kara Finnigan, Ph.D., a professor of educational leadership at the University of Rochester, will speak March 15 as part of the School of Education’s annual research colloquium. (Courtesy photo)

Author of ‘Striving in Common: A Regional Equity Framework for Urban Schools’ to speak at VCU

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Kara Finnigan, Ph.D., author of “Striving in Common: A Regional Equity Framework for Urban Schools” (Harvard Education Press, 2018), will deliver a keynote address at an upcoming symposium organized by the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education.

Finnigan, a professor of educational leadership in the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, will speak at 9 a.m. March 15 in the James Branch Cabell Library Lecture Hall (Room 303) as part of the School of Education’s annual research colloquium.

Finnigan will discuss how educational policy has focused on technical solutions to urban school “failure” without addressing the underlying social and economic structures that exacerbate educational inequities.

She will draw on themes from “Striving in Common,” a book she recently co-wrote with Jennifer Jellison Holme, which uses case studies and spatial mapping to illustrate these broader social and economic issues. She will highlight the underlying politics that make regional equity approaches so hard to accomplish — as power structures and prior policy decisions maintain the status quo — and steps communities can take to overcome these and mobilize toward change.

Finnigan has written extensively on the topics of low-performing schools and accountability policies; school choice, including charter schools and inter-district choice; social networks, trust and school and district improvement; and principal leadership.

Her research focuses on low-performing schools and districts and organizational learning; school improvement under sanction; access, opportunity and outcomes for students of color participating in inter-district choice; parents’ responses to and involvement in the governance of choice policies; district reform; accountability policies; and the role of districts and states in school improvement.

Following Finnigan’s talk will be a panel discussion featuring state and regional stakeholders on building Virginia as a science, technology, engineering and math ecosystem as a mechanism for regional equity development.

The panel, which will be moderated by Al Byers, Ph.D., visiting scholar for STEM education at the School of Education, will include: Andrew Daire, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education; Chuck English, STEM coordinator at the Science Museum of Virginia; Mary Chris Escobar, assistant director for academic and experiential programs at VCU’s da Vinci Center; Todd Estes, director of career education programs and workforce partnerships at the Virginia Community College System; Libbey Kitten, president of the Virginia Science Education Leadership Association; Tina Manglicmot, Ed.D., director of STEM at the Virginia Department of Education; and Kurt Stemhagen, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Foundations of Education in the VCU School of Education.

The panel discussion will be followed by presentations in which faculty and students will share their research.

To register for the event, visit: https://redcap.vcu.edu/surveys/?s=L8NCLNHPRY