Skip to content

Roundtable Event at UCLA Explores “The Walls Around Opportunity”

By John McDonald

Education and civil rights leaders gather to discuss new book exploring the barriers posed by racial inequality and the failure of colorblind policy to open the doors to opportunity in higher education. 

The UCLA School of Education and Information Studies and the Center for Social Solutions at the University of Michigan, will host a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, September 13, of “The Walls Around Opportunity: The Failure of Colorblind Policy for Higher Education,” an important new book by Gary Orfield, distinguished research professor of education, law, political science and urban planning at UCLA. The event will begin at 2.30 p.m. (PST) at the UCLA Faculty Center. Advance registration is requested. The discussion will also be live-streamed for those unable to attend in person. 

During the roundtable, Orfield, who is the co-director of the UCLA Civil Rights Project, will discuss key elements of the book, which argues that while families of color share the dream of higher education, racial inequality hinders that dream for many from an early age, and that colorblind policies have made college inaccessible for far too many students. The book paints a troubling picture of an education system where students of color are walled off from opportunity by deeply ingrained racial inequalities and schools that fail to provide the preparation they need to access and succeed in college, and a system of higher education marked by a tradition of exclusion, where cost is a barrier and colorblind policies have done little to open the doors. With the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative education looming this October, the book renews the call for race-conscious policies that can open the doors to educational opportunity for all, and sets forth ideas for deep changes that result in meaningful gains for our systems of education and all of the people they need to serve.

Orfield will be joined in the discussion with a panel of guests with deep levels of experience, engagement and expertise in the battle for racial equity in education, moderated by Mitchell Chang, associate vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and professor of education at UCLA. The panelists include:

·       Nancy Cantor, chancellor and distinguished Professor of Psychology, Rutgers University–Newark

·       Audrey Dow, senior vice president, Campaign for College Opportunity

·       Stella M. Flores, associate professor and director, Research and Strategy for the Education Research Center, University of Texas at Austin

·       Mayra Lara, associate director of educator engagement, The Education Trust–West

·       Earl Lewis, Thomas C. Holt Distinguished University Professor and director-founder, Center for Social Solutions, University of Michigan; President Emeritus of The Mellon Foundation

·       Alison Yoshimoto-Towery, executive director, UC-CSU California Collaborative for Neurodiversity and Learning, UCLA; former chief academic officer, LAUSD

 Please register for the event in advance here

“The Walls Around Opportunity” is published by Princeton Press.  The book is part a series of books highlighted in Our Compelling Interests, an initiative of the University of Michigan with support from the Andrew M. Mellon Foundation. Earl Lewis and Nancy Cantor serve as editors of the series. A commentary by  Stella M. Flores of the University of Texas is included in “The Walls Around Opportunity.”