Family Re-Union 12 at Vanderbilt to focus on families and education; Graduation rates, achievement gaps among issues to be explored

Educators, administrators, public policy experts, parents and students will gather at Vanderbilt University Oct. 16 to explore the challenges and solutions that families and schools must face as they prepare young people for the future.

Family Re-Union 12, called “Families and Education,” will be moderated by Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell in the Vanderbilt Student Life Center, with registration starting at 8 a.m. Topics to be covered include graduation rates, achievement gaps, post-secondary opportunities for students, school culture and teacher training.

“This conference will present teachers, administrators and families an excellent opportunity to learn about examples of best practices in high schools in Tennessee and other states,” Purcell said. “Tennessee’s high school graduation has been on a downward trend for many years and now stands at only 78 percent. This conference comes at a critical time for educators, policy makers and families to examine what must be done to help our young people succeed in school and future careers,” he said.

Speakers include: Donna Ford, professor of special education and the Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt’s Kennedy Center; Pat Cooper, superintendent of schools in McComb, Miss.; Jack Foley, vice president for government and community affairs and campus services, Clark University, Worcester, Mass.; Vivian Morris, professor, University of Memphis-New Teacher Center; and Linda O’Neal, executive director for the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.

The daylong conference was started in 1992 by former Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore as a way to bring together academic and community leaders to discuss issues related to families. Vanderbilt began hosting the conference in 1997 when Purcell, a former Tennessee legislator and attorney, became director of Vanderbilt’s Child and Family Policy Center.

Each time the conference has focused on different aspects of the American family. Previous participants have included former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former Tennessee Titan Eddie George and former U.S. Surgeon General David Thatcher.

The conference is hosted by the Vanderbilt Child & Family Policy Center and Institute for Applied Research in Child Development Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Education. Funding is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

For more information on the conference, contact the Vanderbilt Child & Family Policy Center at 615-322-8505.

Media contact: Ann Marie Deer Owens, 615-322-NEWS

Explore Story Topics