This workshop invites participants to debate and discuss the idea of education as the great ‘leveler’ in U.S. society, the supposed equitable playing field on which all people can take steps to work toward the American Dream. We will talk about the links between the widening racial wealth gap and education policies, like the predominance of student loans as financial aid. And we will present research that shows how wealth impacts a child’s success in the classroom and out and discuss concrete proposals of how we can do better.

Dr. William Elliott III is a professor and founder of the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion (AEDI) in KU’s School of Social Welfare. He is a leading researcher in the fields of children’s savings and college debt, with research interests broadly focused on issues of economic inequality and social development.

Melinda Lewis is an Associate Professor at KU’s School of Social Welfare and the Assistant Director of AEDI. Melinda has worked for several years as a nonprofit policy advocate, grassroots organizer, and community researcher.