Civil Discourse Panel Series Presents: No Child Left Behind? Educational Access in the 21st Century

May 13, 2019, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Blauvelt Theatre

Should parents have a choice in where their children go to school? How much education should be guaranteed in our public education system? Are we evaluating the purpose and efficacy of schools in the right ways? We are contending with a multitude of vital educational questions right now. This panel aims to provide a well-rounded and robust debate about the complicated relationship between citizens, the government, and educational institutions. Panelists will include Scott Gordon, Farah Jimenez, Lori Shorr, and Sylvia Simms, and the discussion will be moderated by Friends Select students.

This is event is free, but RSVP required.


About the Panelists

Scott Gordon

Scott Gordon is in his 17th year as the founder and CEO of the Mastery Charter Schools. In 2000, he created a plan for a public charter school after Pennsylvania passed its new charter school legislation. That plan started with 100 ninth graders in 2001, initially replicating the model of a technology-focused high school in California. Mastery serves about 13,500 students in 24 schools in Philadelphia and Camden, and it is the largest public charter school network in Philadelphia, where one-third of students attend charters.

Farah Jimenez

Farah Jimenez is president and CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF). In addition to her role with PEF, she served from 2014 through 2018 on the School Reform Commission, which had been the governing body of The School District of Philadelphia. Her nonprofit career spans nearly 20 years in executive management roles. She also served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Pennsylvania Commission on Women and the Pennsylvania Homeless Education Task Force, and currently is on the editorial board of Al Dia, Philadelphia’s Spanish-language newspaper. She is a graduate of both the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Lori Shorr

Lori Shorr is a professor of urban education at Temple University. She has had a 20-year career in policy development and implementation, including the role of special assistant to three Pennsylvania Secretaries of Education and eight years as the chief education officer for the City of Philadelphia, which entailed setting the mayor's policy agenda in K-12 and higher education. She is currently working on building a collaboration of regional school leaders who are committed to working on communication across sectors of education to increase opportunities for success for all students through holistic and project-based instruction.

Sylvia Simms

Sylvia Simms is a longtime advocate and organizer for educational options in Philadelphia, most recently as the executive director of the non-profit Educational Opportunities for Families, a grassroots organization made up of families from across Philadelphia united by the belief that access to a great school should not be determined by a child’s address. They are dedicated to providing a voice to under-represented families who seek better educational options for their children. She has also served on Philadelphia's School Reform Commission (SRC), where she challenged educational leaders to explore alternatives for underserved and failing schools.  


About the Series

The Civil Discourse Panel Series is a key component of a larger civics initiative for which Friends Select won $25,000 from the National Constitution Center in their first Civics Literacy Contest. At its core, the series aims to directly engage students with the historical heart and soul of American civics through the vigor and power of reasoned debates. The nation's founding documents were all conceived through discussion and disagreement that emphasized arriving at an elevated understanding of the complexity of our world through civil discourse. The discussions will focus on modern constitutional and political topics, and bring together experts with different perspectives for robust, civil discussions. Most importantly, the series is truly student-centered. A committee of middle and upper school students will be creating the questions for the panelists and will moderate the discussion.