Achieving Equity through Innovation: A Canada-United States Colloquium

Achieving Equity through Innovation: A Canada-United States Colloquium

Co-sponsored by the Canadian Education Association (CEA) and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE)

This two-day invitational event will explore equity challenges and prospects in Canada and the United States, and focus on whether innovative policies and practices can change the pattern of achievement and educational opportunities in public schools in both countries.  By international standards, Canada is considered to be a high equity, high quality education system, although significant challenges remain for engaging and supporting all students.  In the United States, innovative approaches have and continue to be developed and applied to support school reform and student success. However, gaps in student achievement and educational opportunity remain substantial, and moving from local innovations to effective practices at scale across the education system remains problematic. From different starting points and with differing contexts, the two countries share a need to further explore approaches to advance equity in education.  This colloquium brings together leading researchers, educators, policy makers, and stakeholders to surface those challenges and successes so that we may learn from each other and improve the education and opportunities of all our children. 

Provocation Papers

About the Canadian Education Association (CEA)

CEA is a cross-Canada network of influencers in the education, research and policy, not‑for‑profit, and business sectors.  CEA conducts research, generates constructive ideas, and shares them through collaboration with educators, students, and other stakeholders.  CEA is committed to advancing ideas that lead to greater student and teacher engagement; teaching that inspires all students to learn; and schools that ensure both equity and excellence to meet the developmental needs of all learners in our global and changing society. 

About the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE)

SCOPE was founded in 2008 to address issues of educational opportunity, access, equity, and diversity in the United States and internationally. SCOPE works to develop a shared agenda of cross-disciplinary research, policy analysis, and practices that address issues of educational opportunity, access, equity, and diversity in the United States and internationally. SCOPE is an affiliate of the Stanford University School of Education and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford.


Day 1: Wednesday, October 27


Registration, continental breakfast

8:30Welcome:  Framing the discussion   


  • Penny Milton, CEA Chief Executive Officer
  • Carol Campbell, SCOPE Executive Director
Dialogue 1: Equity Challenges in Canada and the United States –
 What’s Needed? Improvement or Transformation?  



  • Ben Levin, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Education Leadership and Policy, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto
  • Carol Campbell, SCOPE Executive Director

Plenary Discussion

Table Reflections and Feedback

11:00Dialogue 2: Student Engagement, Equity and Innovation  


  • Michele Jacobsen, Associate Professor, University of Calgary
  • Prudence L. Carter, Professor, Stanford University, Co-Director, SCOPE

Plenary Discussion

Table Reflections and Feedback

1:30Dialogue 3: Teachers Unions as Agents of Change  


  • Mary-Lou Donnelly, President, Canadian Teachers’ Federation
  • Becky Pringle, Secretary-Treasurer, National Education Association
  • Réjean Parent, Président, Conseil des syndicats du Québec
  • Moderator: Rhonda Kimberley-Young, Secretary Treasurer, Ontario Teachers’ Federation

 Plenary Discussion

3:00Dialogue 4: OECD’s Improving Equity in Education: Policies
 that Work  


  • Pauline Musset, Analyst, Education and Training Policy Division, OECD Directorate for Education
  • Richard Teese, OECD Expert and Director of the Centre for Post-compulsory Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Melbourne

Plenary Discussion

4:00Critical Reflections and Comparative Policy Perspectives  
  • Watson Scott Swail, President and CEO, The Educational Policy Institute, Canada and the United States
4:20Tomorrow's questions - summary and reflections  

Day 2: Thursday, October 28


Continental breakfast

8:30Dialogue 5: Equity, Innovation and Urban Education: 
 Views from the Ground


  • Chris Spence, Director, Toronto District School Board
  • Victor Cary, Senior Director, National Equity Project, United States
  • Hugh Vasquez, Senior Associate, National Equity Project, United States

Plenary Discussion 

9:30Dialogue 6: Teaching that Makes a Difference


  • Brent Davis, Research Chair in Mathematics Education, University of Calgary
  • Carol D. Lee, Professor, Learning Sciences and African-American Studies, Northwestern University
Plenary Discussion
11:00Facilitated Roundtables:

What would it take to be serious about achieving equity for ALL students?



12:30A View from Europe: What is next for Finland?
  • Pasi Sahlberg, Director General, CIMO (Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation), Finland
1:00Dialogue 7: Implications for Policy: 
 Achieving Equity and Innovation At Scale


  • Kevin Costante, Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Education
  • James H. Shelton III, Assistant Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement 
  • Gerald Farthing, Deputy Minister, Manitoba Department of Education

 Plenary Discussion

2:45Connecting the Dots: Where to from Here and How to Get There?
  • Facilitators: Penny Milton and Dr. Carol Campbell



Our thanks to the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation for their contributions to this event. 

Canada-United States Colloquium - Biographies

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Dr. Carol Campbell is Executive Director of SCOPE at Stanford University. She has international experience in system reform and evidence for change strategies to improve student outcomes. Previously, Dr. Campbell worked for the Ontario Ministry of Education where she was the founding Team Leader for Research, Evaluation and Data, The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat (LNS) and then Senior Executive Officer, LNS. Dr. Campbell was appointed as Ontario's first Chief Research Officer and Director of the Education Research & Evaluation Strategy Branch to lead a provincial research and evaluation strategy applied to K-12 education policies and practices.

 File 3126                     

Dr. Prudence L. Carter is the Associate Professor of Education and Sociology at Stanford University and Co-director of SCOPE.  She teaches a range of courses on racial and ethnic relations, social and cultural inequality, the sociology of education, urban education, and research methods. Dr. Carter’s current research agenda investigates how racial ideology, culture, and social boundaries interact and influence student behaviours in different national and urban school contexts. Her publications include Keepin’ It Real: School Success Beyond Black and White

File 3155

Victor Cary joined the National Equity Project in 2000 and is currently serving as a Senior Director with responsibility for the Project’s Leading for Equity curriculum, professional development and coaching.  Victor has worked in education for over 40 years, starting as a high school teacher in Richmond, CA. He has worked on several reform initiatives, particularly in math and science, serving as Director of both the California Alliance for Mathematics and Science (CAMS) Initiative and the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Center at UC Berkeley. Victor has also served in the National Office of the Coalition of Essential Schools as Director for Center and School Support.

File 3156

Kevin Costante became Ontario's Deputy Minister of Education in July 2009. Prior to this, he served as the Deputy Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry; the Deputy Minister and Associate Secretary of the Cabinet, Policy, in Cabinet Office; the Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services; and the Deputy Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. In addition to this, Kevin has held a number of other senior executive positions in the Ontario Public Service, including with the Ministries of Community and Social Services, and Treasury and Economics. Kevin started his public service career in Saskatchewan, where he worked for nine years at the Ministry of Education and the Saskatchewan Treasury Board.

File 2923 

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University and Co-director of SCOPE at Stanford University. At Stanford, Dr. Darling-Hammond launched the School Redesign Network and SCOPE, and served as faculty sponsor for the Stanford Teacher Education Program. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and member of the National Academy of Education. Her research, teaching, and policy work focus on school restructuring, teacher quality and educational equity.  In 2006, Dr. Darling-Hammond was named one of the nation's ten most influential people affecting educational policy over the last decade.

File 2926

Dr. Brent Davis is Professor and Distinguished Research Chair in Mathematics Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary.  Dr. Davis teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate level that are developed around the educational relevance of recent developments in the cognitive and complexity sciences. He is the author of two books on pedagogy and co-author of three books on learning, teaching, and research. He has authored many articles in the areas of mathematics learning and teaching, curriculum theory, teacher education, and action research.

 File 3127

Mary-Lou Donnelly is President of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. An educator for 30 years in the Halifax Regional School Board, she is a tremendous teacher leader and a champion for gender issues and public education in Canada.  Ms. Donnelly’s career has spanned elementary, junior and senior high, teaching Core French, French Immersion, German and English. She has a keen interest in social justice issues from both the national and international perspective, especially with respect to child poverty, human trafficking, women’s issues and achievement of the UN Millennium Education for All goals. In 2005, she was awarded a Canadian Progress Club Women of Excellence Award. 

File 3157

Gerald Farthing started working for the Manitoba Government in 1984 and joined the Department of Education in 1988. Gerald has been the Deputy Minister of the Department of Education since 2004. Prior to this he was the Assistant Deputy Minister, School Programs Division, and prior to that the Director of the Schools’ Finance Branch. He is also the Chair of the Public Schools Finance Board, which is responsible for overseeing and administering the provincial school building capital program. Gerald has four university degrees, the last one a Ph.D. in public policy and government from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Dr. D. Michele Jacobsen is an Associate Professor specializing in educational technology in the Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary. In her research and teaching, she aims to better understand how students and teachers learn and design new ideas using technology.  Michele's current research projects include investigating the relationship between technology and high school success, the pervasive use of laptops for learning in middle school, and inquiry-based learning and technology integration across the curriculum in teacher preparation. Michele was the Editor of The Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology (CJLT) from 2005-2010. Michele currently serves on the Editorial Board for Education Canada, published by the Canadian Education Association.  

File 3158

Rhonda Kimberly-Young is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF), where she is responsible for relations with the Government of Ontario concerning education issues and legislation and the day-to-day operations of the Federation. A teacher for over 20 years, Ms. Kimberley-Young was also President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) from 2003-2007. While at OSSTF, she was active as a member of the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress and served on their respective Boards and Councils.

File 2928

Dr. Carol D. Lee has been a member of the Faculty of the School of Education and Social Policy and African American Studies at Northwestern University since 1991. She is the immediate past president of the American Educational Research Association, a member of the National Academy of Education, a fellow of the National Conference of Research on Language and Literacy, and a former fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences.   A forward-thinking educator, Lee has devoted her career to urban education and teacher preparation and development. Her important contributions to education center on the cultural contexts affecting learning and literacy.

File 2932

Dr. Ben Levin is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Education Leadership and Policy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. He completed a second short period as Deputy Minister for Education in 2009 for the Province of Ontario after also serving in that role from 2004 to 2007. Dr. Levin has worked with private research organizations, school districts, provincial governments, and national and international agencies, as well as building an academic and research career. His current interests are in large-scale change, poverty and inequity, and finding better ways to connect research to policy and practice in education.

File 2935

Penny Milton has been Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Education Association since 1996. She was Chair of the Toronto Board of Education, Executive Assistant for the Federation of Women Teachers’ Association of Ontario, Executive Director of the Ontario Public School Board Association, and served as Deputy Minister of the Ontario Premier’s Council of Health, Well-being and Social Justice. She has held several public appointments including current membership on The Minister’s Curriculum Council and Governance Review Committee for Ontario. Ms. Milton was a founding Director of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation and now serves as a Director of Goodwill Industries.

File 3159

Pauline Musset is an analyst for the OECD Directorate for Education project “Overcoming School Failure: Policies that Work” in the Education and Training Policy Division. She has been working for the OECD since June 2009. Her contributions to the Education Directorate include working papers on teacher training and on school leader development, and analytical work on equity in education – in particular on school choice.

File 3160

Réjean Parent has been the President of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) since June 2003. When he was a physical education teacher, he was President of the Syndicat de l’enseignement de Champlain, which represents the teaching and support staff of the Montérégie area (8,800 members) for close to 20 years, after previously serving as Vice-President for four years. Primary spokesperson of the CSQ, he is in charge of relations with the other union organizations and the media with a view to promoting the union’s main directions. He is responsible, in particular, for national negotiation, public policies regarding labour and the economy, as well as significant education issues.

File 2936

Becky Pringle is Secretary-Treasurer of the National Education Association. Ms. Pringle’s long history of leadership includes a focus on diversity issues, student achievement, and developing leaders within the Association. A middle school teacher with 31 years of classroom experience, Pringle has held Association positions at the local, state, and national levels.  Most recently she served as a teacher on special assignment working with the Susquehanna Township (Pennsylvania) School Districts Closing the Achievement Gaps initiative and Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA’s) Minority Community Outreach program.

File 3161

Pasi Sahlberg is Director General of CIMO (Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation) in Helsinki, Finland. He has global expertise in educational reforms, training teachers, school improvement and advising policymakers in more than 40 countries. In Finland he has worked as a teacher, teacher-educator, senior advisor and director, and overseas served the World Bank (in Washington) and the European Commission (in Torino, Italy) as senior education specialist. He is speaking and writing about global educational development. His forthcoming book is titled Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn about educational change in Finland. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Jyväskylä and is Adjunct Professor at the Universities of Helsinki and Oulu in Finland.

File 3162

James H. Shelton III has served as Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education since April 2009.  Immediately prior to this, Jim was a Program Director for Education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where, over five years, he oversaw education programs including Next Generation Models, School Replication, College Access and Scholarships, and numerous State and District partnershipsJim began his career developing computer systems; and later became a senior consultant to CEOs and other for-profit and non-profit leaders while working for McKinsey & Company.  He transitioned into education full-time as a private equity investor, which led him to co-found and lead a company with the mission of opening and running high quality schools in high need communities.  After selling the company, Jim worked with Joel Klein, Chancellor of New York City Schools, leading the planning for his reform strategy - Children First – followed by launching the east coast office of NewSchools Venture Fund, a non-profit venture fund focused on education. 

File 3163

Dr. Christopher Spence is a renowned educator, dedicated community advocate and the Director of Education for the Toronto District School Board. Dr. Spence has more than 15 years senior administration and teaching experience and has authored several books. He has been widely recognized for his leadership work within the broader educational community to manage issues, develop policy and promote causes that benefit students. Dr. Spence has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to education and the community, including receiving the Canadian Black Achievement Award for Professional Achievement and Community Leadership and being acknowledged by the City of Toronto for best practices in education

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Dr. Watson Scott Swail is President of The Educational Policy Institute (EPI), a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to policy-based research on educational opportunity for all students. With offices in Virginia Beach, Toronto, and Australia, the mission of EPI is to impact the development and implementation of public policy and educational practice through high-level research and analysis. Prior to establishing EPI, Dr. Swail served as senior policy analyst with SRI International and associate director for policy analysis with the College Board. While with the Board, Dr. Swail co-directed the Trends in College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid reports released in the U.S. each fall. In addition to his research and writing, Dr. Swail teaches educational policy and research at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he received his doctorate in educational policy.

File 3164

Professor Richard Teese is the Director of the Centre for Postcompulsory Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Melbourne. His research is concerned with how well education systems work and for whom. His recent publications include School Dropout and Completion (in press), International Studies in Educational Inequality, Theory and Policy (2007), Undemocratic Schooling (2003), and Academic Success and Social Power (2000). Richard works closely with state governments in Australia on system improvement and equity, including resource allocation and budget models, student achievement differences, destinations monitoring, curriculum provision and participation in schools. Richard was rapporteur for the OECD review of equity in Spanish education in 2005 and for the OECD review of Quality and Equity of Schooling in Scotland (2007).

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Hugh Vasquez joined the National Equity Project as a Senior Associate in January 2010 with responsibility for developing and expanding the Project’s, Leading for Equity work throughout the country. He was most recently the Executive Director of the San Francisco Education Fund, a non-profit organization working to bring educational equity to public schools. Mr. Vasquez is a partner with the Center for Diversity Leadership and the founder of the Todos Institute in Oakland, whose mission is to help individuals and groups heal from the effects of oppression, build cross-cultural alliances, and create environments where youth and adults from all cultures are honoured, valued, and respected. He has co-authored the books No Boundaries: Unlearning Oppression and Building Multicultural Alliances and Making Allies Making Friends: A Curriculum For Middle Schools, as well as published various articles on strengthening cultural roots and eliminating privileged systems.


Registration for this event has now closed


07:45 - 27/10/10
15:15 - 28/10/10



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