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2020 Policy Forum

Second Annual Public Policy Forum

sponsored by the AAACE Public Affairs Committee

Policy Responses to the Twin Pandemics of Racism and COVID-19 and
the Future of Adult Education

Thursday, October 29
4:00 - 6:00 pm EDT

This session will be held during the 2020 AAACE Annual Conference.
Registration to the conference is required in order to attend.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed deep racial disparities that cannot be ignored. Black Americans are three times more likely than whites to contract COVID-19, and together, the mortality rate of Black, Indigenous and Latino people is triple that of white Americans. The wide disparity in COVID outcomes lays bare the devastating impact of poverty, lack of access to health care, and increased occupational exposure to the virus on the population health of marginalized communities in the United States.

The social and economic impacts of the twin pandemics on the Black and marginalized communities are equally devastating and expose the historic legacy of structural racism in our criminal justice, educational, and labor market institutions. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other innocent Black people woke many white Americans to the grave risk Black people face in their encounters with police. Furthermore, the workers who have suffered the greatest job loss in the pandemic, Black and brown workers, and workers with high school diplomas, are the same workers who are overrepresented in jobs that will be replaced by technology in the coming decade. The twin pandemic sheds new light on the threat of permanent job displacement facing this workforce.

It is clear that America is suffering the twin pandemics of structural racism and COVID-19 borne from the structural inequality in our society and institutions. The devastating impacts on the Black and other marginalized communities demand a response.

This forum will bring together scholars, policy experts, and practitioners from diverse fields and settings to explore the legacy of structural racism on our education and social-economic institutions and the resulting effects of the twin pandemics on Black lives and marginalized communities. The panel will examine a wide range of economic and social policies, from reparations, minimum income guarantees, and policies to provide digital access and literacy and discuss the implications for adult education. We will also consider the policies required to enhance social service, adult education, and workforce development systems and programs. Participants will engage the panel in a discussion of the current and potential role of adult educators in devising and promoting cutting edge policies and programs that respond to the impacts of the twin pandemics and ensure for an equitable and inclusive society for all.

Dr. William A. (Sandy) Darity
Samuel DuBios Cook Distinguished Professor of Public Policy,
African and African American Studies and Economics,
Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University

Dr. Darity’s research focuses on inequality by race, class and ethnicity, stratification economics, schooling, and the racial achievement gap. His recent book, coauthored with A. Kristen Mullen, From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21s Century (2020) is a chronical of the racial injustices and the gross inequities between Blacks and whites that have existed in America since before our nation’s founding. The book has received many accolades for its thoughtful, scholarly assessment of the disenfranchisement of African Americans and its clear and actionable roadmap to implement reparations for descendants of enslaved people.

Dr. Darity has held far too many influential positions in the fields of economics and policy research to mention in this brief biography. Notably, he has been a fellow and visiting scholar at several premier economic and policy think tanks in the US, such as the Russell Sage Foundation and the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, and others. He has held academic positions Moore College and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. At Duke University, he served as chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and he founded and directs the Research Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality.

Dr. Darity has published or edited 13 books and published more than 300 articles in professional outlets. He also co-authored with Dr. Lisa Brown an AAACE position paper on U.S. Reparations for Black American Descendants of Slavery.

Amanda Bergson-Shilcock
Senior Fellow, National Skills Coalition

Amanda Bergson-Shilcock leads National Skills Coalition’s work on adult education, immigrant integration, and digital literacy, using her research, program and policy expertise to support NSC’s workforce development advocacy agenda. Amanda is the co-author of The Roadmap for Racial Equity, NSC’s recent advocacy report on advancing racial equity within state and federal workforce policies. Amanda also leads research for NSC’s Digital Skills Series, which recently published a report detailing how workers of color are affected by the digital skills gap.

Amanda has authored numerous publications on immigrant integration, workforce development, and adult education and regularly advises federal, state and local policymakers on issues related to adult education for US-born and immigrant adults.

Kim R. Ford
President and CEO, Martha’s Table, Washington, DC
Kim R. Ford, President and CEO, Martha’s Table, Washington, DC

Kim R. Ford is the President and CEO of Martha’s Table, an active charity and volunteer center in Washington DC. For over 40 years Martha’s table has sought to support strong children, strong families, and strong communities by increasing access to high-quality education, healthy food and family and community support. Recently, Martha’s table launched THRIVE East of the River, an innovative philanthropic partnership to put money in the hands of people who need it most, many who lost their jobs and income due to the COVID-19shutdown. In the first 4 months of the new initiative Martha’ table has distributed over $1.2 million to 137 families and laid the foundation for a new $3.5 million fund to expand the program to 500 households in DC’s Ward 8, where nearly a third of the families live in poverty. THRIVE represents the cutting edge in community development for it provides people with needed funds and trusts them to spend the money as they see fit to support themselves and their families.

Ms. Ford served as the Dean of Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning at the University of the District of Columbia College. As the Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, at the US Department of Education, Ford provided national leadership to strengthen the role of community colleges in expanding access to postsecondary education to youth and adults. Ms. Ford also served in the Obama White House where she coordinated the distribution of $350 billion of Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to support programs across eight federal agencies.

Moderator: Dr. Ellen Scully-Russ
Chair, AAACE Public Affairs Committee

Dr. Scully-Russ is the Founding Chair of the AAACE Public Affairs Committee and Associate Professor and Chair of Human and Organizational Learning Department at the George Washington University. She also directs the Department’s Ed.D. Program that seeks to provide scholar-practitioners with the dispositions, mindsets and values to think critically, ethically, and to place people and the planet at the center of all organizational or community development efforts. Dr. Scully-Russ’ research explores the dynamic opportunity structures in the 21st century labor market with a specific interest and concern for how lifelong learning and social mobility is afforded and constrained in emerging forms of work.

Scully-Russ has over 30 years of experience as a workplace learning and workforce development practitioner and policy advocate in a wide range of industries including health care, telecommunications, manufacturing, hospitality, and the public sector. She has worked with dozens of union-management partnerships on the firm, regional, and industrial levels to develop and advocate for policies and programs to meet tripartite goals of supporting individual learning and development, enhancing economic viability of firms and communities, and building strong unions and systems of worker voice and representation.

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