Loading Events

« All Events

New Jersey’s Early Literacy Crisis: Disrupting Business as Usual

The Racial Equity Initiative Inc. presents a virtual panel hosted by Dr. Sandra Donnay.

Tuesday, May 30th, 2023


Paula White, Executive Director, JerseyCAN
The current executive director of JerseyCan, Paula White has taught elementary grades, founded and led a public charter school, and served as the New Jersey Department of Education’s Chief Turnaround Officer in charge of public-school improvement statewide. She also led flagship chapters of two national education nonprofit organizations. Her strong, informed voice on education and social policy has resulted in her being featured across various media including News 12 New Jersey, Chalkbeat, NPR, CBS News, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She led the first cross-sector team on chronic absenteeism in New Jersey, and her work elsewhere has resulted in broad policy changes including universal dyslexia screening for K-2 students and the expansion of restorative justice programs in public schools.

Dr. Kymyona Burk, Senior Policy Fellow, Early Literacy, Foundation for Excellence in Education
In her role as Senior Policy Fellow for Early Literacy, Dr. Burk supports states pursuing a comprehensive approach to K-3 reading policy by assisting state leaders in building new or improving existing K-3 reading policies, with a heavy focus on supporting successful policy implementation. Dr. Burk most recently served as the Executive Director for the Jackson Public School District’s Office of Teaching and Learning leading all aspects of the School District’s instructional programming. Prior to this role, Dr. Burk was the State Literacy Director at the Mississippi Department of Education where she led the implementation of Mississippi’s Literacy-Based Promotion Act.

Dr. Susan B. Neuman, Professor of Childhood and Literacy Instruction, New York University
Dr. Neuman is a specialist in early literacy development; whose research and teaching interests include early childhood policy, curriculum, and early reading instruction for children who live in poverty. In her role as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Dr. Neuman established the Early Reading First program, developed the Early Childhood Educator Professional Development Program, and was responsible for all activities in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act. She has written more than 100 articles and authored and edited eleven books.

Dr. Heather Peske, President National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)
In 2022, Dr. Heather Peske was named NCTQ’s next President. She comes to NCTQ from her role as Senior Associate Commissioner for Instructional Support in the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) where she implemented policies and programs across teacher development, educator preparation, and curriculum and instruction that drove historic improvements for students—including record graduation rates, the highest rating NAEP performance, and dramatic increases in higher-education participation and success. After having started her career as an elementary teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dr. Peske served as Director of Teacher Quality at The Education Trust and later as the Vice President of Programs at Teach Plus.

Dr. Joshua Aronson, Associate Professor, the School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University
Dr. Aronson is internationally known for his pioneering research on “stereotype threat” with Claude Steele and “growth mindset” interventions. Dr. Aronson’s work has been featured in popular books like Blink, NurtureShock, Mindset, Drive, Nerve, Choke, Grit — and longer titles like Lean In, How Children Succeed, Intelligence and How to Get It, and Whistling Vivaldi. His work has been referenced in four Supreme Court cases, is widely cited in Law, Education, Psychology, and human development. Listed by Education Week among most influential education scholars in America, Dr. Aronson is the editor of Improving Academic Achievement (Academic Press) and is co-author of The Social Animal.

Please RSVP below to reserve your spot for this event.


May 30, 2023
6:00 pm EDT


The Racial Equity Initiative, Inc.

Keep up to date with our latest work and upcoming workshops.