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Bill Cosby's Latest Role: Making Education More Equitable in New Haven

The opinionated actor and comedian is using his star power to mobilize low income communities around educational excellence.

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Bill Cosby is best known for the generation-defining Cosby Show, but the 73-year-old also holds a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts, and has long advocated for educational equity and excellence. Now he's working to address the education disparity between wealthier and whiter Americans and lower income, mostly minority students. This "achievement gap" is a nationwide problem, but Cosby's focusing first on the New Haven, Connecticut area, one of the areas where it's widest.

Cosby headed to the Today Show with Dr. Stanley Battle, president of Southern Connecticut State University to discuss his partnership with the school and the surrounding community. New Haven's also home to prestigious Yale University so Cosby's criticism of wealthy universities in low-income areas—"If you're situated in, around, or near a lower economic neighborhood, and you're a university, you're a part of the problem. You can't be insular. You can't have all these people come from around the world and ignore what's going on outside"—is a real "shots fired" comment.

Another notable exchange comes at the 5:30 mark when Today Show host Meredith Viera asks Battle and Cosby if President Obama's been a good education President. Battle gives a nuanced response, but doesn't flat out say yes. Cosby, who's not known for holding back his opinion, dodges the question, preferring to say that he likes Obama and likes his wife and his dog. You can watch the video above to see the star marching through New Haven for safer streets, more tutors and mentors, and more educational involvement from parents.

photo via Wikimedia Commons

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