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Beyond Our Gates Dialogues

Through a series of community forums aimed at identifying and assessing our region's needs and goals, education emerged as both a critical challenge and a vital opportunity.

Pacific's Beyond Our Gates Dialogues series fuels our ongoing discussion of how best to support education and improve quality of life — introducing cutting-edge views and experience-tested ideas from the country's top thinkers and practitioners.

Notably, the series is designed as a catalyst for real-world application. After speakers present their remarks, audience members are challenged to consider ways to implement new strategies at the local level.

Ron Fairchild, a national education consultant with the Campaign For Grade Level Reading, delivered the keynote address. Fairchild spoke about successful strategies and challenges involved in improving grade-level reading by thirdgrade - and important metric in assessing overall educational outcomes for children. John Deasy, the new Stockton Unified School District superintendent, also spoke at the Dialogue.

Kevin Slattery of the group Providence Talks was the keynote speaker. Providence Talks' work received international praise in helping to lessen the "30 Million Word Gap" -- the estimated number of fewer words that children frompoor home environments hear by age 3 compared to children from middle- and upper-class income families. Kevin was charge of Providence Talks' data analysis and a key to its implementation efforts. Dr. Maggie Park of Stockton also spoke on the impact of literacyon children's health.

Susan Neuman, an educator, researcher and policy-maker in early childhood and literacy development, spoke about "book deserts" and the challenges many communities face in early literacy. She received her doctorate degree from University of the Pacific. She also is a consultant to the Beyond Our Gates program.

California State Librarian Greg Lucas led a conversation on how libraries build community. He spoke about how libraries can connect with the communities they serve to enhance literacy and outreach efforts.


Kara Dukakis, Director of Too Small to Fail, and Ted Lempert, President of Children Now, addressed developments and opportunities in the area of early childhood education policy and advocacy. 

Alison Gopnik, an internationally recognized expert on children's learning and development, and author of "The Scientist in the Crib" and "The Philosophical Baby," spoke as part of an early childhood education research and practice symposium planned in collaboration with organizations from throughout the county.

Beyond Our Gates officially launched its communitywide early literacy campaign in September 2012, as part of a community summit featuring Ralph Smith. Smith, senior vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading challenged stakeholders from throughout the county to come together to improve early literacy.  

The inaugural Beyond Our Gates Dialogue was held October 12, 2011, at Stockton Unified School District's Stagg High School. It featured nationally recognized school-transformation expert Elizabeth Molina Morgan, executive director of Grad Nation, an ambitious campaign to end the country's dropout crisis and better prepare all young people for college and the 21st century workforce.