The Learning Labs is a national movement to radically improve early learning (birth to age 5) for all children in the United States. Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the movement consists of a partnership of innovative state-level early learning agencies located in Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Washington State. From May 7-9, 2012, a team of five National Equity Project staff facilitated a Learning Lab Network conference with Kellogg Foundation program leaders in Mississippi, hosting over 80 education leaders from across the country.
The conference led off with a tour of the site of the infamous murders of three civil rights workers in 1964 that was described in the film Mississippi Burning.
In the second day, in addition to sessions for state-based teams, our staff and others facilitated breakout sessions on core learning areas:
- High-Quality Learning Environments: Job-Embedded Professional Development
- Public Will Building: A Voice and a Movement
- Family and Community Engagement: Connecting at the Roots
- School Success: Assessment and Alignment
- Policies and Frameworks: An In-Depth Look
The civil rights tour was profoundly moving and set the historical and moral context of the more practical work that followed. As equity leaders in education, we need to keep our moral imperative front and center in our work. The moral imperative of education is not to (merely) raise achievement. It is, in the words of NYU Professor and our advisory board member Dr. Pedro Noguera, the keynote speaker at the conference, to “prepare young people to make the world better than it is.”