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Vassar to host public education reform symposium, keynoted by distinguished social psychologist and education scholar Michelle Fine, on April 18 , 2013

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY -- In a climate where high stakes testing, accountability, and the privatization of public schooling are the dominant discourses surrounding educational reform in the United States, the Vassar Department of Education will hold a symposium that explores -- as a counter-narrative in educational reform -- the possibilities demonstrated by the small public schools movement in New York City.  Keynote speaker Michelle Fine, a Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology, Women’s Studies, and Urban Education at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center will address the current state of public education in New York City, followed by a panel discussion among scholars who contributed essays to the 2012 book Critical Small Schools: Beyond Privatization in New York City Urban Educational Reform. The symposium is free and open to the public, beginning at 5:00pm on Thursday, April 18, in Rockefeller Hall room 200.

Participating panelists will include educators and education scholars Anthony De Jesús  (CUNY Hunter College), Maria Hantzopoulos (Vassar College), Rosa Rivera-McCutchen (CUNY Lehman College), Jessica Shiller (Towson State University), and Alia Tyner-Mullings (New Community College at CUNY). Hantzopoulos and Tyner-Mullings co-edited the book Critical Small Schools to which all the panelists contributed. Drawing on empirical research conducted at several different public school sites, their essays in the book discuss the successes and challenges of the small schools movement, as these schools strive to maintain their community-based visions and participatory practices. Likely implications for urban public educational policy are also addressed. Moreover the writers challenge the concept of charter schools as the panacea for educational reform, and look at how small schools can help narrow the achievement gap and increase graduation and college acceptance rates.

About the Keynote Speaker

Michelle Fine is a social psychologist and longtime social justice advocate, whose primary research studies aspects of social injustice: when injustice is perceived or appears simply fair or deserved, when it is resisted, and how it is negotiated by those who pay the most serious price for social inequities. She studies these issues in her work with public high schools, prisons, and youth in urban communities, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Her research is typically participatory, drawing from feminist, critical race, and other critical theories.

Among many her many publications, Fine is co-editor of Revolutionizing Education: Youth Participatory Action Research in Motion (2008), and co-author of Designated Others: Muslim-American Youth Negotiating Identities Post 9-11 (2007, NYU Press); Beyond Silenced Voices, 2nd ed. (2005, SUNY Press, winner of the 2006 AESA Critics’ Choice Award); Silenced Voices, Extraordinary Conversations: Re-imagining Urban Education (2003, Teachers College Press); and The Unknown City: Lives of Poor and Working Class Young Adults (1998, Beacon Press).

About the Panelists

Anthony De Jesús  is Assistant Professor at City University of New York (CUNY) Hunter College's Silberman School of Social Work. He holds an Ed.D. in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University, earned a Master’s of Social Work degree from Boston University, and served as a Community Fellow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In Critical Small Schools de Jesus contributed the chapter “Authentic Caring and Community Driven School Reform: The Case of El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice”.

Maria Hantzopoulos is Assistant Professor of Education and a participating faculty member in the Urban Studies and Women's Studies programs at Vassar College. She earned her doctorate in International Educational Development and her master’s in Social Studies Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Hantzopoulos also taught and worked in New York City public schools for 13 years, served on the planning teams of several new small local high schools, and worked with a variety of established youth organizations, including ASPIRA of New York and Seeds of Peace. Her current research interests and projects involve critical media literacy, peace and human rights education, the education of immigrant youth, and urban educational reform. In addition to writing the co-introduction to Critical Small Schools, Hantzopoulos contributed the chapter “When Cultures Collide: Students' Successes and Challenges as Transformative Change Agents within and beyond a Democratic School.”

Rosa Rivera-McCutchen is Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership at City University of New York (CUNY) Lehman College. She worked at New York University's Center for Research on Teaching & Learning. She earned her Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning from New York University and a Master’s of Science in Social Studies Education from the University of Rochester. Rivera-McCutchen contributed the chapter “Considering Context: Exploring a Small School's Struggle to Maintain Its Educational Vision” to Critical Small Schools.

Jessica Shiller received her master's in Social Studies Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She taught social studies in New York City public schools from 1995 to 2002.  While completing her Ph.D. from New York University in urban education she coached new teachers and conducted professional development in schools throughout New York City.  Shiller helped found a new high school, and after three years teaching at Lehman College, City University of New York, she joined Towson University's Department of Instructional Leadership and Professional Development as an assistant professor in fall 2011.  Her research interests include urban school reform, social justice education, community activism and youth, and neoliberalism and education policy. She has taught courses in urban education, foundations, social studies methods, and history. She contributed the chapter  “City Prep: A Culture of Care in an Era of Data-Driven Reform” to Critical Small Schools.

Alia Tyner-Mullings is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at CUNY’s New Community College. She earned a doctorate in sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she researched alternative educational models. Tyner-Mullings has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on sociology, deviance, statistics, and education. She was a post-doctoral fellow at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Sociology and Education Program and then an assistant professor at Morgan State University. A former high school math teacher, Tyner-Mullings serves on assessment committees for two small high schools, and she has worked as a statistical or academic consultant for several colleges and universities. Her research interests include the sociology of education, communities, sports, and cultural studies. In addition to her co-introduction to Critical Small Schools, Tyner-Mullings contributed the chapter “Redefining Success: How CPESS Students Reached The Goals That Mattered.”

This event is co- sponsored by the departments of political science and sociology, the programs in American Culture, Africana Studies, Urban Studies, and Women's Studies, and the Office of Campus Life.

Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all. Individuals with disabilities requiring special accommodations must contact the Office of Campus Activities at least 48 hours in advance of an event, Mondays-Fridays, at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space/and or assistance may not be available. For detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities, search for “campus accessibility information” on the Vassar homepage (http://www.vassar.edu).

Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY, and directions to the campus can be found at http://www.vassar.edu/directions.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, April 8, 2013