Fixing Underperforming Schools

Liz Dozier
Thursday, May 20, 2021
6:30 pm

Kansas City’s long-troubled public schools system has shown promising improvement. Student performance in math and English is rising. Full accreditation – an elusive goal for nearly a decade – could come this summer, though it isn’t certain. For now, KCPS remains provisionally accredited. 

Liz Dozier has been on the front lines of similar pushes, dating to her work in Chicago with eventual U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. A decorated educator with a track record of turning around struggling schools, she discusses effective approaches to improving student performance in urban neighborhoods. They revolve, in part, around understanding how traumatic events outside the classroom affect students, and she suggests that schools focus on restorative justice and mental health and wellness strategies. 

Dozier, a former teacher and principal in Chicago’s public schools system, is the founder of Chicago Beyond, an organization that has invested more than $30 million in efforts to remove inequities and help youths in the city and beyond reach their full potential. In 2008, she was selected by Duncan, who then was CEO of Chicago Public Schools, to help implement a bold strategy for improving the system’s lowest performing schools. Later, as principal of troubled Fenger High School, Dozier oversaw dramatic increases in attendance and the graduation rate. 

CNN followed her work as part of an eight-episode docuseries, Chicagoland, in 2014. 

Watch Dozier’s presentation live online at