EdMonth aims to bring awareness of the education inequality to students both at USC and at other universities.
Opening remarks were presented by David Dwyer, founder of USC Hybrid High School, who highlighted the university’s innovative approaches to education with the new school through the three pillars of personalization, time and connectedness.
Grammy Award-winning artist and philanthropist John Legend spoke on education as the foundation that helps students succeed in their talents and career interests. He focused on the importance of education as a right for all students no matter what challenging environment they might come from.
“If we think demography is destiny, we will allow our school system to confirm that belief,” Legend said.
The event, moderated by Marshall School of Business Professor David Belasco, expressed teaching as an incomparable business.
“Out of all of the problems in the world, education is the one thing that can solve others,” Belasco said.
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy expressed the need for every student to pursue an education in current economic times. He put the state’s priorities into perspective, comparing the approximate cost of $8,800 spent on each student in California versus the an average of $86,000 spent on each prison inmates in our country.
“The best form of economic stimulus is a diploma,” Deasy said.
CEO of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy Ana Ponce touched upon the need for students to feel that they deserve an education without being restricted by an undocumented status.
“I believe that every kid can have the right to education,” Ponce said. “I’m a Camino Nuevo girl, I grew up undocumented and if I did it then every single kid in that neighborhood can do it.”
Kevin Sanchez, who runs Students for Educated Reform and is an EdMonth co-founder, said it was great to have a nonpolitical conversation about education reform in a “hands-on, gloves-off” approach, which he feels people don’t really have.
“This is just great because it allows people that aren’t educated about what’s going on to become educated and come out to other events or get involved politically or directly with the kids,” Sanchez said.
Students who also might have come to see John Legend were inspired by the event and the call to action for education reform in California.
“I ended up learning more than I expected to. I think its an interesting prospective because I’m from New York, so I don’t really know that much about California education,” said Ashley Seruya, a freshman majoring in narrative studies.
The panelists ended the discussion urging students to become leaders by simply helping younger students with their personal statements with college or showing them around their school campus. Hrag Hamalian, founder and head of Valor Academy, said that the best way for college students to get involved in education reform is to visit students and and be a role model that they can look up to.
“Come and speak to our kids,” Hamalian said. “Students will relate to you more than anyone else.”