On Friday afternoon, scholars, barbers and community members convened at a small barber shop in Austin to shoot the breeze.

But this breeze had purpose, part of a monthly community forum called Shop Talk, sponsored by the Public Square, a nonprofit group that fosters participatory democracy, and the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Amid hair trimmings littering the floor of Ron’s Barber Shop, 6058 W. North Ave., the group talked about school closures, Renaissance 2010 and education reform. Participants shared their experiences and insight on issues concerning Chicago Public Schools.

Pauline Lipman, professor of educational policy studies at UIC, spoke at the event. She highlighted issues mentioned in her book, “High Stakes Education: Inequality, Globalization, and Urban School Reform.”

Shop Talk began in January and takes place on the last Friday of every month. The series will continue through June. See Across Austin for contact information.