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Posted: Tuesday, 28 May 2013 6:09AM

Conference in New Orleans: Should affirmative action continue in education?

Has affirmative action served its purpose and should now be put to an end at America's universities? The U.S. Supreme Court will be handing down their decision on a landmark case soon, and it's one of the topics at The National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) which gets underway in New Orleans today. 

Is it time to move beyond race when it comes to American college campuses?  Dr. Belinda Biscoe, who runs NCORE says it's not time for affirmative action to end.  "I think the vestiges of discrimination and all the things that impeded the progress of so many groups, you don't undo that in four decades.  There are still rippling effects from that."

Other topics of the conference focus on immigration and children of illegal aliens getting a college education in the U.S.  "In particular Mexican American students, and the impact of some of the new laws and legislation that prohibit them from getting into college, because they came here when they were five years old and never got their citizenship," says Biscoe.

One of the big issues in higher education now says Biscoe, "Is we don't have enough students of color pursuing the STEM areas, science, technology, engineering and math."  She says overall the United States is severely lacking in these areas, and even more so when it comes to women and minorities.

The conference will be May 28 to June 1 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside hotel in New Orleans.
In addition to the hundreds of pre-conference institutes, workshops and keynote addresses to take place this year, organizers say "A special panel discussion with New Orleans-area university presidents about how their institutions responded to the Katrina crisis will take place from 4:45 - 6:15 p.m. Thursday, May 30 and will include Dr. Scott Cowen, Tulane University president; Dr. Norman Francis, Xavier University president; Dr. Walter Kimbrough, Dillard University president; Dr. Victor Ukpolo, Southern University president; and Dr. Kevin William Wildes, Loyola University president.  
Melissa Harris-Perry, political science professor at Tulane University and host of the MSNBC Melissa Harris-Perry Show, will be featured as a keynote speaker on Wednesday, May 29. She will be discussing why teaching 'race' requires active pedagogy."

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