America is experiencing one of the largest demographic shifts in the country's history. As a result, the U.S. Department of Education recently projected that students from minority groups will comprise a majority of the country's public school K-12 students this school year.
Heartland communities like Des Moines, Iowa, are more diverse than ever before-today, 53 percent of students enrolled in Des Moines' public schools are children of color. The country's changing immigration patterns are creating both dynamic opportunities and important challenges for school systems across America.
Join National Journal in Des Moines, Iowa, for a robust town hall discussion with local opinion leaders about how the nation's rapidly evolving demographic shifts are impacting schools across the country as they educate a new generation of Americans.
We will explore questions such as: What factors have driven Des Moines' demographic change? How do the country's schools best provide a high quality education for all of their students, ensuring that all children live up to their full potential? And nationally, what effect are the country's immigrant-driven demographic shifts having on the American education system?
This event is presented with support from Emerson Collective. Community Supporters: Des Moines Public Schools & United Way of Central Iowa.
Thomas Ahart Ed.D.
Thomas Ahart became Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools on March 12, 2013. He was appointed interim Superintendent on May 15, 2012 and Associate Superintendent of the school district on July 1, 2011. Prior to that, he served as principal of Harding Middle School for three years.
Dr. Ahart has also served as the Director of Human Resources at the Ankeny Community School District, the Director of Instruction at the Marshalltown Community School District, and as a school improvement consultant at the Heartland Area Education Agency. He has also been a language arts teacher at high schools in Denison, IA and Glenwood Springs, CO.
Dr. Ahart is also involved in a number of educational and professional associations, having served as president of the Iowa Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, an editor of Iowa Educational Leadership, and a member of the Iowa Department of Education’s Charter School Advisory Board. He is also on the board of directors for the Council of Great City Schools.
Dr. Ahart received a BA in speech and mass communications from the University of Denver as well as a Master’s of Public Administration, Ed.S and Ed.D from Drake University.
Ronald Brownstein, a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of presidential campaigns, is Atlantic Media's Editorial Director for Strategic Partnerships, in charge of long-term editorial strategy. He also writes a weekly column and regularly contributes other pieces for the National Journal, contributes to Quartz, and The Atlantic, and coordinates political coverage and activities across publications produced by Atlantic Media.
Rob Dillard is a Des Moines based correspondent for Iowa Public Radio. He joined IPR in 2001 as host of Morning Edition and moved to reporting in 2007. He has been on special assignment for IPR since early 2011 reporting the ongoing series “Being in Iowa.” It has taken him around the state shining light on small segments of the population, including Muslims, military veterans, Latinos and the physically disabled. The series has won awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and Northwest Broadcast News Association (NBNA).
Rob has extensive experience in radio, newspaper and media relations dating back more than 30 years. He has also taught news writing at Central College in Pella. Rob earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communications at the University of Iowa.
Rob’s favorite public radio program is Morning Edition.
Catherine E. Lhamon is the assistant secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. President Obama nominated her for this position on June 10, 2013, and she was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 1, 2013. Immediately prior to joining the Department, Lhamon was director of impact litigation at Public Counsel, the nation's largest pro bono law firm. Before that, she practiced for a decade at the ACLU of Southern California, ultimately as assistant legal director. Earlier in her career, Lhamon was a teaching fellow and supervising attorney in the Appellate Litigation Program at Georgetown University Law Center, after clerking for The Honorable William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 2004, California Lawyer named Lhamon Attorney of the Year for Civil Rights. The Daily Journal listed her as one of the Top 20 California Lawyers Under 40 in 2007, and as one of the state's Top Women Litigators in 2010 and 2007. Lhamon received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was the Outstanding Woman Law Graduate, and she graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College.
Matt Vasilogambros is a policy writer for National Journal, covering foreign affairs, the White House and Congress. He previously covered the 2012 presidential election and other federal elections for the National Journal and The Hotline. Before joining the company, Matt covered politics for PoliticsDaily.com, the Iowa Independent and the Huffington Post. Matt is a graduate of Drake University, where he served as editor-in-chief of the award-winning student newspaper. He is a native of Arlington Heights, Ill.