NEW YORK COLLECTIVE OF RADICAL EDUCATORS CONFERENCE 2014
5th Annual NYCoRE Conference
Location: Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School (BCAM)
300 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn, NY11205
Date: Saturday, March 15, 2014
As those who spend time in schools well know, our schools do not function as bubbles. Both in individual interactions, and in large-scale policies, the inequities and injustices that permeate our society as a whole are keenly evident inside classrooms. To quote Jean Anyon, a scholar who has been an inspiration to many of us, an urban school “is an institution whose basic problems are caused by, and whose basic problems reveal, the other crises in cities: poverty, joblessness, and low-wages, and racial and class segregation” (2005, p. 177). In understanding the significant challenges faced by students, parents, and educators, these contextual factors cannot be ignored.
Even in the midst of these inequities, schools remain full of passion and potential. The joyful possibility of justice and liberation is at the heart of the work of teaching and learning, and is what sustains many educators in a policy climate that devalues and undermines their work. That possibility is called into being when a student takes a risk to express a dearly-held idea, when a parent-teacher conversation transforms both participants, when a teacher realizes that maybe they didn’t have to hold on to control so tightly. We are reminded that a flash of understanding can appear; that inspiration can strike; that tomorrow can be different from today.
When those moments of possibility and justice occur inside schools, they are beautiful and powerful. But they are not enough. Not enough to counter the school-to-prison pipeline. Not enough to counter profit-driven education “reforms.” Not enough to dismantle the barriers to opportunity that exist for undocumented students, students living in poverty, students who experience racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, and other forms of structural oppression. The challenges and injustices that we face call us to draw upon all of our creativity, unity, and strength to imagine radically different schools in a radically different world.
The problems that our schools face will not be fixed by band-aids or by the lemon-juice-in-the-wound of teacher evaluation systems. They won’t be fixed by collecting more data, or by more testing, or by squeezing more phonics drills into a shorter time. As these pressures increase, we must become ever more creative in imagining radical possibilities and creating change, both within schools, and in the larger society of which they are a part. We must imagine ways for students to speak their experiences loudly and clearly, not just to classmates, but to their school, neighborhood, and global communities. We must imagine ways for parents and teachers to work together, not only during two nights of the year, but in lasting, sturdy coalitions that could revive the heart and soul of education. We must imagine ways in which each of us can move beyond our fears and our habits and reach out to others, building the passionate and powerful community connections that catalyze social change.
Anyon wrote of the power of such Radical Possibilities: “If those of us who are angry about injustice can recapture this revolutionary spirit of democracy, and if we can act on it together, then we may be able to create a force powerful enough to produce economic justice and real, long-term school reform in America’s cities (2005, P. 200).” Only by working as a people united can we imagine a different world; a world based in justice, equity, democracy, love and joy.
Reference: Anyon, J. (2005). Radical Possibilities: Public Policy, Urban Education, and a New Social Movement, pp. 49, 177. Routledge: New York, NY.
8:45-9:30 Registration and Breakfast
9:30-10:45 Opening and Keynote
11:00-12:30 Workshop #1
12:30-1:30 Lunch and Tabling
1:45- 3:15 Workshop #2
3:30-5:00 Workshop #3
5:00-5:30 Community Building
5:45-8:00 After party
New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) is a group of current and former public school educators and their allies committed to fighting for social justice in our school system and society at large, by organizing and mobilizing teachers, developing curriculum, and working with community, parent, and student organizations. We are educators who believe that education is an integral part of social change and that we must work both inside and outside the classroom because the struggle for justice does not end when the school bell rings. NYCoRE members hold in common nine Points of Unity which can be found here: http://www.nycore.org/nycore-info/points-of-unity/
Goals of the Conference
To share information and critical thinking around the conference theme, namely imagining possibilities for justice and liberation for education.
To provide rights-holders in the education system with information and new ideas that can strengthen our effectiveness as activists, both inside and outside of our classrooms (and other sites)
To forge connections between and among educators, researchers, parents, activists, and students, fostering new and innovative partnerships and collaborations
To develop structures for ongoing discussion and working groups about education and social justice
To organize a national voice in the ongoing debate over education reform
To plan actions, advocacy, future meetings
To bridge the gap between youth and educators by creating a space to make young voices heard
To develop and share ideas for inspiring practice, both inside classrooms and in communities
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