2016 <em>Brown</em> Lecture Speaker Bio and Abstract
2016 Brown Lecture Speaker Bio and Abstract
Public Education and the Social Contract: Restoring the Promise in an Age of Diversity and Division

Marta Tienda, Princeton University

Marta Tienda is Maurice P. During '22 Professor in Demographic Studies, Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, with joint affiliations in the Office of Population Research and the Woodrow Wilson School. From 1998 to 2002, she served as director of the Office of Population Research and in 2002 served as President of the Population Association of America. She previously held appointments at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is co-author or co-editor of several books, including of The Hispanic Population of the United States (1987), Divided Opportunities (1988), The Color of Opportunity (2001), Youth in Cities (2002), Ethnicity and Causal Mechanisms (2005), Multiple Origins, Uncertain Destinies (2006), Hispanics and the Future of America (2006), and Africa on the Move (2006). She has published over 200 scholarly papers in academic journals and edited collections, in addition to numerous research bulletins and articles for a lay audience. She holds a BA in Spanish from Michigan State University and a MA and Ph.D., both in Sociology, from the University of Texas at Austin. She received honorary doctorates from The Ohio State University (2002), Lehman College (2003) and Bank Street College (2006). 

Her research on race and ethnic differences in various metrics of social inequality - ranging from poverty and welfare to education and employment - addresses how ascribed attributes acquire their social and economic significance. Through studies of immigration, population diversification and concentrated poverty, she has documented social arrangements and life course trajectories that both perpetuate and reshape socioeconomic inequality. Currently she is examining the correlates and consequences of variations in the emergence and evolution of teen relationships. 

 View Marta Tienda's CV here


Where does the social contract guaranteeing equal access to quality education reside? Not in the U.S. Constitution, which laid the foundation for educational inequality by delegating the responsibility for public education to the states. Nor does it reside in the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which has been used to uphold wealth-based disparities in public education financing. Building on the premise that closing achievement gaps is an economic imperative both to regain international educational supremacy and to maintain global economic competitiveness, Marta Tienda asks whether it is possible to rewrite the social contract so that education is a fundamental right—a statutory guarantee—that is both uniform across states and federally enforceable.

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