November 28, 2011

Addressing disparities in education

UMBC president Freeman Hrabowski will give the keynote

With an eye on the health of urban youth, The Johns Hopkins University will host a regional conference this week focused on addressing disparities in education.

The all-day conference, to be held on the East Baltimore campus, will bring together education leaders at Johns Hopkins and other area colleges, medical experts, community leaders and others working on the frontlines of urban youth issues.

The event will take place on Friday, Dec. 2, in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Feinstone Hall.

Freeman Hrabowski, the president of UMBC since 1992, will give the keynote presentation.

Hrabowski’s research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. In 2008, he was named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report, and the Carnegie Corp. recently honored Hrabowski with a 2011 Academic Leadership Award. Hrabowski has co-authored two books, Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African-American Males (Oxford Press, 1998) and Overcoming the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African-American Young Women (Oxford Press, 2002). Hrabowski, who received an honorary degree from Johns Hopkins in May, was featured this month on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

The event will also feature Jonathan Brice, who oversees student support and safety for Baltimore City Public Schools, and David Andrews, dean of Johns Hopkins’ School of Education.

The goal of the fourth annual Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Disparities Conference is to create a dialogue around influences and factors related to promoting healthy futures for urban youth, with a specific focus on addressing disparities in education.

Twenty-two percent of students who live in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of all other students, according to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The day will include a series of short presentations of novel and innovative programs, and an interdisciplinary panel discussion that includes youth and community leaders.

Among those presenting will be Sarah Lindstrom Johnson, a research associate in pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the School of Medicine; Tamar Mendelson, an assistant professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Bloomberg School; and Sarah Hemminger, a graduate of the School of Medicine and founder of the Incentive Mentoring Program, which employs a “family-style” mentoring approach to foster the transformation of area high school students.

The conference is organized by the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health, or LEAH, program at Johns Hopkins, one of seven adolescent health training programs nationally funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The program is a collaborative effort between the schools of Medicine, Public Health and Nursing with a focus across the fields of medicine, nursing, social work, nutrition and psychology.

LEAH’s mission is to develop the next generation of leaders in the most innovative and effective interdisciplinary approaches to adolescent health promotion and disease prevention, with a primary goal of reducing health disparities.

Hoover Adger, LEAH director and a professor of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the School of Medicine, said that the conference is intended to have broad appeal and reach out to all stakeholders in the effort to promote a healthy future for youth.

“We have assembled some of the foremost experts and authorities in the areas of education, nursing, psychology and public health for the conference,” Adger said. “We are all bonded in our desire for students to reach their fullest potential. If kids are not functioning in the academic arena, they are limited to what they can achieve.”

Register for the event online.