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Adelphi University

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Why Boundaries Matter: Being Bold About Educational Equity on Long Island

A stakeholder forum convened educators, administrators, students, and local community members who sought to learn more about the need for education reform and discuss potential policy solutions.

Garden City, NY, June 27, 2010 --( On May 14, 2010, Adelphi University’s Ruth S. Ammon School of Education and the Center for Social Innovation hosted a stakeholder forum to discuss the need for educational reform and address the problem of segregated school systems on Long Island. The event convened educators, administrators, students, and local community members who sought to learn more about the issues and discuss potential policy solutions.

The keynote address, “Separate and Unequal Educational Opportunities on Long Island: Where Metro Migrations, Racial Segregation and School District Boundaries Collide,” was delivered by Dr. Amy Stuart Wells, a professor of sociology and education at the Columbia University Teachers College. She is principal investigator and a co-author of the original research described in her presentation.

Dr. Wells presented a historical account of metro migration as more minorities have moved into the suburbs, while more white populations have moved back into the cities. This is a reversal of the “white flight” from cities to suburbs seen from the 1950s to 1980s, she said. She also cited social class as a major divisive issue in the region - with affluent families living in concentrated areas, this “growing income inequality leads to social class segregation.”

A respondent panel composed of local education and community leaders included, V. Elaine Gross, president of ERASE Racism, Dr. N. Gerry House, president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Student Achievement, Dorothy Porteus, principal of the Riverhead Charter School, and Dr. Thomas Rogers, district superintendent of schools for Nassau BOCES. Each panelist provided a distinct perspective on the challenges of addressing the fragmentation and segregation of the region’s schools, and concurred that more needs to be done.

“Schools are a microcosm of the communities in which we live,” said Dr. House. “This is not just an issue schools have to focus on alone; there is a much larger issue on Long Island.”

The panelists noted that while segregation and unequal educational opportunities are evident, very little is being done to change them. Ms. Gross said that it was more an example of “embedded racism” than “overt bigotry,” meaning that much of the issue is that we don’t actually see it as a problem, but more as a fact of life. Therefore, change needs to happen on the level of perception as well as policy.

Following the forum, Director of the Long Island Index, Dr. Ann Golob offered the concluding remarks. She supported the panelists’ positions, and added that the current system is unfair to young children in that it “does not give exposure to the what the outside world is like.” This point drew on an audience member’s assertion that children who are brought up in homogenous settings are ill-prepared to contribute to the diverse and globally-oriented environments that characterize today’s workplace.

For more information about the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, please visit

To learn more about the Center for Social Innovation, visit

About Adelphi University: Adelphi University, chartered in 1896, was the first institution of higher education for the liberal arts and sciences on Long Island. Through its schools and programs—The College of Arts and Sciences, Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Honors College, Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, University College, and the Schools of Business, Nursing, and Social Work—the co-educational university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional and educational programs for adults. Adelphi University currently enrolls nearly 8,500 students from 41 states and 63 foreign countries. With its main campus in Garden City and centers in Manhattan, Hauppauge, and Poughkeepsie, the University maintains a commitment to liberal studies in tandem with rigorous professional preparation and active citizenship.

Contact Information
Adelphi University
Kali Chan
(516) 877-4040

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