Past Event

Our Neighborhood – what it has, what it needs

How does economic inequality affect school performance?

As more and more public schools find themselves providing food, school supplies, and other basic services for students living below the poverty line, the connections between economic inequality and school performance have become more apparent.

Join us for an evening dedicated to talking about the relationship between poverty and education, featuring Pedro Noguera (Education Researcher; UCLA), Karla Jimenez (Parent Leadership Institute in Elgin’s U-46), and Matt Andrews (Principal at the Dennis Lab School in Decatur, IL).

After a keynote from Pedro Noguera, he’ll be joined by Karla Jimenez and Matt Andrews for a conversation moderated by Laura Washington. The discussion will range from educational policy to its everyday impact in public-school systems in Chicago and across the state – identifying both the links that tie seemingly disparate school districts together as well as the particular challenges and opportunities that characterize specific places.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is recommended.




Pedro Noguera is the Director of the Center for the Study of School Transformation and a Distinguished Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences at UCLA. His research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional and global contexts. He is the author of eleven books and over 200 articles and monographs. He serves on the boards of numerous national and local organizations and appears as a regular commentator on educational issues on CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and other national news outlets. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, he served as a tenured professor and holder of endowed chairs at New York University (2003 – 2015) Harvard University (2000 – 2003) and the University of California, Berkeley (1990 – 2000). From 2009 – 2012 he served as a Trustee for the State University of New York (SUNY) as an appointee of the Governor. In 2014, he was elected to the National Academy of Education. Noguera recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, from the National Association of Secondary Principals, and from the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed at fighting poverty.

Karla Jimenez is the Coordinator of Family and Community Engagement for school district U-46, a position she has held since 2004. Among other responsibilities, she coordinates the African-American and Hispanic Parent Leadership Institutes for the school district. Karla earned a master of public administration from DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management and serves as a board member for the United Way of Elgin as well as EHN, the Elgin Hispanic Network.

Matt Andrews is the principal at Dennis Lab School in Decatur, Illinois. Currently in his 18th year in education, Mr. Andrews has had the opportunity to take on many interesting assignments working as a Teacher, Assistant Principal, and Principal in the Decatur Public School District. He also served as an Assistant Superintendent for the Macon Piatt Regional Office of Education where he worked in the areas of truancy, alternative education, and school policy. Mr. Andrews’ career has been devoted to working with high-poverty schools. Each of the schools he has worked with have all experienced tremendous academic growth during his tenure by leveraging community, instilling a growth mindset, creating a positive student-centered environment.

Laura Washington, a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, is a multi-media journalist who specializes in African-American affairs, politics, race and racism, and social justice. From 2003 to 2009 she was the Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor at DePaul University. She is currently a political analyst for ABC-7 Chicago.

More on Continuing Ed.: Parents and the Future of Illinois Public Schools

Continuing Ed. is a yearlong, statewide series working with parents, schools, and communities across the state – in Chicago, Decatur, Elgin, and Jackson County to move the conversation about public education back to parents. All Chicago events will be moderated by Laura Washington (Chicago Sun-Times). For the complete schedule and more information, see

If you require a sign interpreter or any other arrangements to fully participate in this program, please contact at least 72 hours in advance of the event. For more information, please call (312) 422-5580.