The Future of Public Education? Seeking Public Good Amid Gentrification & Inequality

SEP 26, 2017 | 7:00 PM TO 9:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue


C200: Proshansky Auditorium


September 26, 2017: 7:00 PM-9:00 PM




Center for the Humanities


Join us for an evening of conversation with The Public Good Project and Epic Next Theatre Ensemble on promoting and preserving diversity in urban public schools threatened by gentrification.

Public schools are often the best institutions to bring people together across racial, ethnic and cultural lines for peace and reconciliation. But in New York City, as in hundreds of global cities, where the gentrification of historically working class or poor urban communities of color by upper-class white people has become the norm, public schools easily become the epicenters of cultural and political conflicts. Because gentrification agitates unhealed wounds of systemic segregation while fostering the material and cultural loss of long-time residents’ homes, the public schools in these contexts regularly embody struggles over who has the right to the city and the private resources that gentry families bring. It is within this context that public schools have the potential to either heal or further divide.  

The Public Good, which works to foster greater inter-racial understanding about race, privilege and opportunity at the school and classroom levels, is a Public School Support Organization (PSSO), created at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2015. Members of the research team, along with youth performance group, Epic Next Theatre Ensemble, will highlight the promise of combining systematic research with public advocacy to promote socially just, high-quality and culturally relevant educational opportunities for students in racially and ethnically diverse schools.  

Members of The Public Good Project will present findings from their research on and for three public schools in urban gentrifying areas of New York City, and their methods to co-construct opportunities for a transformative shift in educators’ and parents’ cross-racial understandings of their schools. Epic Theatre will then perform their own researched, written, and directed play “LAUNDRY CITY” to center the lived realities of NYC youth amid rampant gentrification. A dialogue between Epic Theatre, The Public Good and the audience will follow.

Participants: Diana Cordova-Cobo, Lauren Fox, Abbey Keener, Dominic Terrel Walker, James Wallert, Amy Stuart Wells, Juontel White.

About the play "LAUNDRY CITY," presented by The Epic Theatre Ensemble:

Over 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, New York City is one of the most segregated school districts in the United States. Conceived, written, and performed by NYC Public High School students, "LAUNDRY CITY" is a hilarious and provocative exploration of what "Separate but Equal" means to us today. 

Written by: Olivia Dunbar, Vickandy Figueroa, Jeremiah Green, Melysa Hierro, Davion Osbourne.

Performed by: Miguel Delacruz, Olivia Dunbar, Davion Osbourne, Nashali Perez, Nakkia Smalls. 

Directed by: James Wallert.

Co-sponsored by The Public Good Project; Epic Next Theatre Ensemble; the PhD Program in Urban Education at the Graduate Center, CUNY; and What is the Public(s) in Public Education? Research, Teaching, and the Arts Seminar in Public Engagement and Collaborative Research.