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Nobel Prize Laureate to Speak at ABA Law and Education Conference in Boston


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Nobel Prize Laureate to Speak at ABA Law and Education Conference in Boston

By Daniel Buchanan

CHICAGO, April 30, 2012 – Nearly 60 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, legal and education experts—including a Nobel Prize recipient—will meet at Boston University School of Law May 3-5 for an American Bar Association conference on strategies for achieving equal educational opportunity.

Speakers will include Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville and Missouri Juvenile Court Judge Jimmie Edwards, who was named one of People magazine’s 2011 “Heroes of the Year.”

The conference will take place at Boston University School of Law, 765 Commonwealth Ave. News reporters may attend at no charge. For media credentials or other information, please contact Ira Pilchen,, 312-988-5743.

Additional information about the conference, which is sponsored by the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, is online. Program highlights include:

The Economics of the Achievement Gap: The Challenge and Price of Failure
Thursday, May 3, 12:45 – 2:45 p.m.

Nobel Prize winning economist James J. Heckman and Harvard Law School Professor Charles J. Ogletree will discuss the societal benefits of early and equal educational opportunities from a moral and economic perspective. (Moderated by Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville.)

Education Reform Through Legislative and Government Action
Thursday, May 3, 3 – 5 p.m.

Government officials, education specialists and NGO representatives will explore the No Child Left Behind Act and Race to the Top, which were designed to address the achievement gap in education. Speakers include:

  • Paul Weckstein, Center for Law and Education, Washington, D.C.;
  • Marilyn Chase, Massachusetts assistant secretary for children, youth and families;
  • Thomas Weber, Massachusetts undersecretary of education; and
  • Jonathan Furr, Holland & Knight, Chicago.

Advocating for Change Through Policy Reform
Friday, May 4, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Educators, reform specialists and union representatives will explore how lawyers use legal strategies to persuade, inspire and create educational reform. Speakers include:

  • Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. (moderator);
  • Harold Kwalwasser, former general counsel, Los Angeles Unified School District;
  • Seth Andrew, founder and superintendent, Democracy Prep Public Schools and Democracy Builders, New York;
  • Leo Casey, United Federation of Teachers, New York;
  • Lyle Kirtman, Future Management Systems Inc., Beverly, Mass;
  • Paul B. Ash, superintendent of schools; Lexington, Mass.

Keynote Luncheon
Friday, May 4, 11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Attorney Arturo González, the son of Mexican immigrants, grew up poor in California and was the first in his family to receive a formal education. In high school, he set his sights on law school and in 1985 he earned a J.D. from Harvard. He later became the first Latino partner at the law firm of Morrison & Foerster. González will discuss his rise in the legal profession, his groundbreaking litigation in civil rights and education matters, and the importance of closing the achievement gap in education for minority students.

Lawyers and Judges Making a Difference: Innovative Methods for Improving Academic Achievement
Friday, May 4, 2 – 3:30 p.m.


  • Judge Jimmie Edwards, People magazine 2011 Hero of the Year; founder, Innovative Concept Academy, St. Louis;
  • Renee Landers, Big Sisters Association of Greater Boston; professor of law, Suffolk University;
  • Sherea McKenzie, Harris County Community Services, Houston.

From Brown to Now: Litigation Strategies to Address Systemic Change
Friday, May 4, 4 – 6 p.m.

Panelists will discuss successful litigation strategies and techniques for addressing the achievement gap, resource and funding inequities, use of public information and data analysis in litigation, and common practice issues encountered in handling systemic litigation.


  • Jon Greenbaum, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Washington, D.C. (moderator);
  • Art Coleman, Nelson Mullins Riley Scarborough LLP; EducationCounsel LLC, Washington, D.C.;
  • Alan J. Rom, Rom Law P.C., Somerville, Mass.
  • Maree Sneed, Hogan & Lovells, Washington, D.C.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

Created in 1966, the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities provides leadership within the ABA and the legal profession in protecting and advancing human rights, civil liberties and social justice.

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