Urban Education and Workforce Opportunity

Through expert roundtables, lectures, conferences, and publications, Penn IUR seeks to promote discussion and highlight important research and discussion related to urban education and workforce opportunity.

Recent initiatives include a January 2013 roundtable discussion with William J. Hite, the superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, along with a group of scholars and experts from Penn and the greater Philadelphia area. Penn IUR convened the roundtable to discuss the expansion of private philanthropy in the School District. The roundtable brought together local leaders in educational research and practice, with the aim of collaborating to strengthen the District’s private partnerships.

Another recent education initiative featured Penn IUR Faculty Fellow Laura Perna in a February 2013 discussion on workforce readiness. Perna, editor of “Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs in Metropolitan America,” published as part of Penn IUR’s City in the 21st Century book series, along with the book’s contributing authors, discussed the question of how our education system can better prepare young people for success in the workforce.

Penn IUR’s work on urban education began in 2005, with a Franklin Conference on School Design, occasioned by the School District of Philadelphia's proposed $1.5B capital improvement program. Modeled after Former Superintendent Paul Vallas' successes in Chicago, the Philadelphia program was part of a vision for small-scale schools designed to facilitate student learning. This Franklin Conference focused on the impact of this initiative on the economic, social, cultural and educational landscape of Philadelphia.

The Franklin Conference is a model civic engagement program of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, PennPraxis of the School of Design of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Center for School Study Councils of Penn's Graduate School of Education. The Conference pairs expert opinion with citizen deliberation on important urban topics. In partnership with the Philadelphia Inquirer, it develops and publicizes principles and recommendations toward effecting positive change in the urban environment.

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