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Internationally Respected Education Expert Will Speak April 12th at U of M

For release: April 3, 2013
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901-678-2843

Noted sociologist Dr. Karl Alexander will speak at the University of Memphis on Friday, April 12.  His talk, “The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood,” will begin at 2 p.m. in Room 317 of Clement Hall. His presentation is free and open to the public.

Alexander is the John Dewey Professor of sociology at The Johns Hopkins University.  His research has attracted national and international attention and has influenced major policy shifts in K-12 school systems, primarily in regard to the importance of maintaining academic skills during the summer break, particularly for disadvantaged youth.  Alexander writes, “Statistically, lower income children begin school with lower achievement scores, but during the school year, they progress at about the same rate as their peers.  Over the summer, it’s a dramatically different story; disadvantaged children tread water, at best, or even fall behind.  It’s what we call ‘summer slide’ or ‘summer setback.’ ” 

However, he says the same phenomenon is not observed among more advantaged children. 

In his presentation at the University of Memphis, Alexander will report on the most current findings of his long-term study, which began in 1982.

Alexander’s research has been referenced by, among others, Microsoft founder and education philanthropist Bill Gates as influencing, in part, the educational strategies of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

The speech is sponsored by the U of M Department of Sociology, in conjunction with the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta, the National Sociology Honor Society.

More information is available from the University of Memphis Sociology Department, by email,, or by phone, 901-678-2611.


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