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Perspective | Dudley Flood Center will work to expand education equity and opportunity to all

The following is Mary Ann Wolf’s “Final Word” from the Oct. 31, 2020 broadcast of Education Matters — “Dudley Flood Center for Educational Equity.

At a time when so much of our world seems to be mired in chaos, it is important to lift up the good that we see. Dr. Dudley Flood, an educator and champion of school integration in our state, represents that light in our world. Throughout his career and ongoing work, Dr. Flood leads by example — demonstrating that understanding people, communicating with them, and bringing them together to work toward common goals are actions that lead to positive change and outcomes.

In the years following the Brown v. Board of Education decision that mandated school desegregation in the United States, Dr. Flood traveled to every corner of our state to unite divided communities and work toward integrating our public schools. His legendary commitment to school integration and his belief that every child deserves equitable educational opportunity will serve as the foundation and beacon for the work of the Forum’s new Flood Center for Educational Equity and Opportunity. I had the great honor of formally announcing the launch of the center last week. With Dudley by our side, we will continue to build upon his legacy.

The Flood Center is born out of the findings and recommendations of the Forum’s (2016) Study Group XVI: “Expanding Educational Opportunity,” co-chaired by Dr. Flood, as well as the Forum’s Color of Education partnership, which aims to achieve racial equity in education across North Carolina through building connections and engagement across fields of research, policy and practice.

The Flood Center endeavors to continue this work by informing discussions on policies impacting equity and social justice, supporting and advancing equity-focused educator programming, and promoting discussions around how schools are funded at the local and state levels, in hopes of achieving equity, access, and opportunity for all young people in North Carolina.

The Center’s Advisory Board, named this week, will guide the work of the Flood Center as we move forward with intentionality, grounded in the day-to-day work of our schools and communities.

The racial injustices that have come to pass these past few months have shone a bright light on the inequities that exist in our schools and communities. Efforts to improve equity in our schools and communities have been underway for a very long time, and we have made some progress along the way — led by pioneers like Dr. Flood.

However, we are reminded through opportunity gaps, the digital divide, and what we now know about equity overall that we have not done enough. As we look ahead to the coming months and years, we must use all of the information, research, and resources we can to address equity directly. This work has never been easy, and it will continue to be challenging without a direct path.

The Flood Center provides a space for targeted and in-depth work in policy and practice to bring together leaders and partners in this work and those who want to grow in their understanding, with an eye toward advancing equity and a positive impact for all students.

Mary Ann Wolf

Mary Ann Wolf, Ph.D. has served as President and Executive Director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina since June 2020, bringing with her more than 20 years of educational policy and leadership working directly with schools and districts across North Carolina to improve equity and build capacity for innovation.