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University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, California 95211

Dialogues of Distinction

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. The Dialogues of Distinction 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 design ways of implementing new strategies at the local level.

The speakers

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

San Joaquin County has long struggled with dropout rates well above the California average. "When I see children who are trapped in failing schools," said Morgan, who met with representatives from education, business and nonprofit groups during her two-day visit, "I realize that the only reason they are in this situation is due to their Zip Code, their powerlessness to change their condition and the lack of opportunity they have been afforded to be transported beyond their circumstances."