Skip to Content

National Center for the Elimination of Educational Disparities

NCEED Launch

event flyer

Join the School of Education and Urban Studies at Morgan State University for a one-day symposium. The State of Maryland has designated Morgan State University as its urban research university with a responsibility to provide instructional, research and community engagement programming that addresses issues affecting urban life. Morgan is pleased to announce the launch of its National Center for the Elimination of Educational Disparities (NCEED). The Center’s core mission is to address issues that affect the opportunity of children to achieve their full academic, personal and career potential, regardless of their zip code and socio-economic status.

View Event Details

Toward a Blueprint for Equity and Excellence in K-12 Education – Thought Leaders and Subject Matter Experts


Walter Fields

Walter FieldsWalter Fields has devoted his life to the pursuit of justice for underserved communities and the civil protection of the disadvantaged. He is the founder of the Black Parents Workshop, Inc., a parents advocacy organization based in South Orange-Maplewood, NJ that championed a landmark federal lawsuit on behalf of students in the local school district. Walter currently serves as Co-Chairperson of Strong Schools Maryland, a statewide education equity advocacy organization. Professionally, he has been involved in campaigns to preserve the civil justice system, assist families of the incarcerated to preserve familial ties, promote violence reduction between African American youth, build alliances across diverse communities, close the racial achievement gap in public education, and protect voting rights among a myriad of projects. Walter has also been an adjunct professor in political science at Montclair State University and a Visiting Lecturer in public policy at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, Japan. He is a proud member of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., one of the 'Divine 9' National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations and serves as the fraternity's National Director of Communications. Walter received his undergraduate degree in political science from Morgan State University, and graduate degrees in public policy and political science from New York University and the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Glenda M. Prime, Ph.D

Glenda PrimeDr. Glenda Prime currently serves as the Dean of the School of Education and Urban Studies at Morgan State University. Prior to her current appointment, she served for ten years as the Chair of the Department of Advanced Studies, Leadership and Policy, also in the School of Education and Urban Studies, a department which houses five doctoral and four masters’ programs in various fields of education. A science educator by training, Dr. Prime holds the Ph.D in Science Education, from the University of the West Indies.
Prior to her administrative roles, Dr. Prime had twenty-five (25) years of teaching experience in the graduate education of science teachers and researchers. Her publications include numerous articles and book chapters on science and technology education and on doctoral education. Her most recent work is an edited volume on the teaching of STEM to African American learners, in which she advances the notion of “race-visible pedagogy”, an approach that centers the racialized experiences of African American learners in their education in STEM.

Tracy R. Rone, Ph.D.

Tracy RoneDr. Tracy R. Rone is Assistant Dean for Research and Community Partnerships and Associate Professor in the Department of Advanced Studies, Leadership, and Policy, in the School of Education and Urban Studies at Morgan State University. Since joining Morgan State University in 2007, she previously served as Interim Director of Innovation and Community Partnerships in the School of Education and Urban Studies, and as Research Associate Professor at the Institute for Urban Research, where she also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She is trained as a linguistic anthropologist. Her research aims to illuminate urban education issues in high-poverty, resource-challenged contexts through an anthropological lens. She is especially interested in how identity informs academic performance, the intersection of health and educational disparities, and how narrative can be used to illuminate lived experiences in urban communities.

Alvin Thornton, Ph.D.

Alvin ThorntonDr. Alvin Thornton was a Howard University faculty member for thirty-eight (38) years, serving as Senior Academic Advisor to the President, Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Chair of the Political Science Department. He was also an Associate Professor of Political Science at Morgan State University for seven (7) years before joining Howard’s faculty. In 1999, Maryland’s Governor appointed Dr. Thornton to chair the State’s Commission on Education Adequacy, Equity and Excellence (the “Thornton Commission”). The Commission’s visionary recommendations became the design that the State used to fund and hold accountable secondary public education (2002 Bridge to Excellence) and laid the foundation for the State’s historic 2020 Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education legislation. Dr. Thornton chaired the Prince George’s County, Maryland Board of Education between 2018 and 2020, and three (3) times between 1992 and 1999, leading the Board’s negotiations that resulted in the 1998 Federal Court consent decree ending involuntary busing and requiring the building of additional schools and the implementation of a targeted student restorative development program.

Dr. Thornton is the recipient of numerous outstanding leadership and service awards: including the Civic Hero Award, Greater Washington Community Foundation; the Howard University College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Excellence Award; the Morehouse College National Alumnus of the Year Award; the NAACP Image Award (Prince George’s County, Md.); the 2021 Greater Washington Community Foundation Civic Hero Award; the Emma Mae Posner Award from the Prince George’s County Historical Society; and two Fannie Lou Hamer Service Awards from National Conference of Black Political Scientists); the Willis Award for Outstanding School Board Leadership from the Maryland Association of Boards of Education; the 2020 Southern Christian Leadership Conference Award; the 2019 Alexander Williams Center for Education, Justice and Ethics Award; the Friend of Education Award from the Maryland State Teachers’ Association; and the Distinguished Service and Leadership Award, Prince George’s County Public School System (2021).


Meria J. Carstarphen, Ed.D.
Leader and expert in school system transformation

Meria J. CarstarphenDr. Meria Carstarphen has more than twenty (20) years of transformational leadership and executive management experience, with a track record of dramatically improving student and organizational outcomes. She is passionate about working to make communities stronger especially through the equalizing power of education from early childhood through college.

Nationally recognized as an experienced public education leader skilled at managing billion-dollar organizations efficiently and effectively, her collective impact spans over eight hundred-thousand (800,000) students, more than twenty-thousand (20,000) employees and hundreds of schools. Over her career, she has served as teacher, administrator, and superintendent in major metropolitan American public school districts including Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; and Saint Paul, Minnesota. While her most immediate background has been domestically focused, she has also worked and studied abroad.

Dr. Carstarphen has demonstrated experience working closely with local, state, and national elected officials to make recommendations and advise on policy for public institutions, ranging from human trafficking and community health to accountability assessments and economic impact. Meria has shared her expertise on blogs, podcasts, speeches, and panels as well as publications in National Geographic, Education Week, The 74 Million, and School Administrator magazines and other periodicals. She also contributes to research to support the field on American urban superintendency, for example, chapter contributions such as "Communicating the Vision" in the book, Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day: School Leaders Who Are Making Equity a Reality and "The Secrets of Successful Women: Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent" for Forbes Magazine.

Dr. Carstarphen's instructional experience includes teaching Spanish and documentary photography at the middle school level as well elementary educational work abroad in Seville, Spain and Caracas, Venezuela. She earned a doctorate in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy with a concentration in urban superintendency from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Carstarphen received Master of Education degrees from Harvard and Auburn University graduate schools and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and Spanish from Tulane University. She has also studied at the University of Seville, Spain and University of Innsbruck, Austria.

Dr. Carstarphen hails from Selma, Alabama where she began her teaching career.

Ivory A. Toldson, Ed.D
Professor, Howard University

Ivory A. ToldsonDr. Ivory A. Toldson is the national director of Education Innovation and Research for the NAACP, professor of counseling psychology at Howard University and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Negro Education. Previously, Dr. Toldson was appointed by President Barack Obama to devise national strategies to sustain and expand federal support to HBCUs as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCUs). He also served as president and CEO of the QEM Network and contributing education editor for The Root, where he debunked some of the most pervasive myths about African-Americans in his Show Me the Numbers column. Dr. Toldson is the executive editor of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Research, published by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. He is also the author of Brill Bestseller, No BS (Bad Stats): Black People Need People Who Believe in Black People Enough Not to Believe Every Bad Thing They Hear about Black People. Dr. Toldson is ranked among the nation’s top education professors as a member of Education Week’s Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, an annual list which recognizes university-based scholars across the nation who are champions in shaping educational practice and policy.


Robert Jarvis, Ph.D.

Robert JarvisDr. Robert Jarvis recently retired as the Director of the UPenn Coalition for Educational Equity in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served for twenty-two (22) years. He is currently providing consultation and support to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Delaware State Board of Education, the Chester County Intermediate Unit (PA) and multiple school district leaders in New Jersey. 

Dr. Jarvis has brings over forty years of distinguished experience in educational leadership and organizational change in k-12 education through development and delivery of numerous equity-focused initiatives relative to district-wide leadership development, teacher and youth empowerment, equity policy and practice development and systemic district/school organizational change.

His current interests and activities involve working with state professional and advocacy organizations, researchers, and state and local policy leaders to enhance school districts’ capacities to better serve the learning and developmental needs of their increasing numbers of challenged and diverse learners.  The quest has been to eliminate the historic and pervasive gaps we observe in student achievement, attainment and opportunity most often defined by race/ethnicity, gender and poverty.  

For the past nineteen (19) years his efforts have focused on building collaborative networks of school districts throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond.  Over this time, Dr. Jarvis has developed multiple Excellence Through Equity Consortia that have served well over two hundred twenty-five (225) urban, suburban and rural school districts throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Michigan. 

Prior to coming to the University of Pennsylvania Dr. Jarvis served as 

  • Associate Director of the Office of Professional Development in the School of Education at Syracuse University (NY)
  • Dean of Academic Affairs at Remington College in Lafayette, LA
  • Faculty Member and Director of Outreach Programs for the School of Education at the University of Portland (OR)
  • Director of Counseling, Career and Health Services, and Coordinator of Learning Assistance Services at the University of Portland (OR)
  • School Psychologist with the Portland OR City School District 
  • Residential Treatment Counselor for Delinquent and Emotionally-Behaviorally Challenged Youth

Dr. Jarvis holds a B.S. degree from Western Oregon State University in Psychology and Criminology/Corrections, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Educational Psychology from Michigan State University.

Joseph Manko

Joseph MankoAs the Program Officer for Education for the Abell Foundation, Mr. Joseph Manko manages a portfolio of projects and partnerships focused on expanding educational opportunities for children in Baltimore City from early childhood through k-12 and into postsecondary education. In addition to reviewing proposals and conducting site visits in schools and learning sites across the City,  Mr. Manko connects grantees with resources and partners with educational leaders, advocates, and policy makers in Baltimore and across Maryland.

Prior to joining the Foundation in 2020, Mr. Manko worked as a classroom teacher and served as an elementary school principal in Baltimore City. At the Foundation, Mr. Manko is able to harness his eighteen years of experience as a school-level practitioner to provide insights on how grant funding may impact schools and children. Joe graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science, completed two masters’ degrees in Teaching and Education from the Johns Hopkins University, and is in the final stages of his doctoral program on Education Leadership and Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park, writing his dissertation on Community Schools.

Sonja Brookins Santelises, Ed.D
Chief Executive Officer, Baltimore City Public Schools

Sonja Brookins SantelisesThroughout her career, Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises has been guided by her core conviction, that – properly resourced and supported – every child can be successful, and that excellence in urban education is achievable at scale. She is now in her second term as Chief Executive Officer of Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools), to which she was first appointed on July 1, 2016. 

Early in her tenure Dr. Santelises launched “Building a Generation: City Schools’ Blueprint for Success” – a 5-year plan for realizing her vision for Baltimore City’s students. She established the first Office of Equity in Maryland in 2019, while also greatly expanding the role and resources dedicated to family and community engagement, as well as communications. Dr. Santelises also oversaw the opening of twenty-four (24) new school buildings over six years under the 21st Century School Buildings Program – as well as the district’s first two “Net Zero” school buildings, which produce as much energy as they use every year.

Dr. Santelises introduced new high quality instructional materials at both the k-8 and high school level for English Language Arts, with an emphasis on building student knowledge that connects with their lived experiences.  Following a multi-year review, in 2021 the district expanded and significantly realigned its career and technical (CTE) programming to better focus on in-demand jobs that earn a living wage. 

During the COVID pandemic, Baltimore City Schools was among the first districts in the nation to open schools for in-person learning – thanks to the implementation of its nationally recognized school-based asymptomatic testing program at scale. In September 2022 the district implemented the “Reconnect-Restore-Reimagine” program to accelerate student progress through the development of individual student learning plans and support the priorities of the Blueprint in a post-pandemic environment.

Dr. Santelises had previously served as Chief Academic Officer for City Schools from 2010-2013. Prior to returning to Baltimore, she served for three years as vice president for k-12 policy and practice at The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization focused on closing the achievement gap. Prior to her arrival in Baltimore, Dr. Santelises was the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning/professional development in Boston Public Schools, where she subsequently served as the assistant superintendent of a network of twenty-three (23) “pilot schools,” focused on improving the achievement of low-income students – and particularly students of color.

Dr. Santelises was a finalist for the 2020 Green-Garner Award, the nation’s highest urban education honor recognizing outstanding contributions in urban education.  She serves on the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Foundation and the Executive Committee of the Council of Great City Schools. Dr. Santelises was a founding board member of Ed Reports, and she is a board member of United Way of Central Maryland and Chiefs for Change.

Dr. Santelises is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University.  She holds a Master of Arts degree in Education Administration from Columbia University and a Doctor of Education in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University. She has lived in Baltimore with her husband and three daughters since 2010.

Andraé Townsel, Ed.D
Superintendent, Calvert County Public Schools

Andraé TownselDr. Andraé Townsel earned a football scholarship to Howard University in Washington, D.C. During his time at Howard, he earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate, all from Howard University and began his educational career in the District of Columbia.

He had the privilege to work at every level of the educational system and excelled. He served as a student teacher, teacher, head coach (football and basketball), athletic director, dean of students, central office specialist, assistant principal, high school principal, assistant superintendent and currently as a superintendent.

As the superintendent of Benton Harbor Area Schools, he successfully eliminated the previously existing 14-year budget deficit, increased teacher salaries after a 10-year freeze, and successfully developed a 5-year district strategic plan. The United Way of Southwest Michigan highlighted him and his district as the Education Innovator of the Year in 2021.

Dr. Townsel was nominated as the 2021 Superintendent of the Year in Michigan. He successfully navigated the pandemic, with the Board of Education giving him a vote of confidence. His district was subsequently awarded $3 million over the next 5 years to focus on and improve literacy. They were 1 out of 5 districts to receive this award through a competitive grant application process.

As an assistant superintendent in the Wayne-Westland Community School District, Dr. Townsel pioneered the work of climate, culture and social-emotional learning. In a district of nearly 11,000 students and 20 school buildings, he recruited and developed climate and culture coaches for each facility and provided year-long professional development to effectively address the disproportionality in discipline data as well as improve the overall behavior of students district-wide to ensure an increase in academic achievement.

He has a strong knowledge of school finance and showed great fiscal responsibility at all levels. Dr. Townsel generated nearly $250,000 in grant funding to support the work of restorative practices and social-emotional learning (SEL).

It is noted that Dr. Townsel is the first African American appointed as a public school superintendent in the history of Calvert County, Maryland.