Teach – In for Public Education K-12 and Beyond:
A critical exploration and discussion about the future of public schools in the age of standardized tests, corporate reforms, and neo-liberal economics.
As part of its National Summer Session in Rosemont, IL, Fielding Graduate University invites the extended Chicago community to join the panel discussion titled Teach-In on Public Education—K-12 and Beyond, on July 16, 7-10 pm at The Westin O'Hare, 6100 N River Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018. This evening program will provide a critical exploration and discussion about the future of public schools in the age of standardized tests, corporate reforms, and neo-liberal economics. This conversation will be led by distinguished scholar-activists Michelle Fine,PhD, and Ira Shor, along with organizers Regina Tuma, PhD (Media Psychology Faculty) and Kathy Tiner-Sewell, PhD (Program Director, Educational Leadership for Change). In the true spirit of a teach-in this event is open and inclusive. Educators, students, activists and anyone interested in participating, sharing and discussing this topic is encouraged to attend.
The Teach-In on Public Education—K-12 and Beyond will draw attention to corporate educational and testing reforms which are threatening the very idea of public education across the nation. “Corporate education and testing reforms have long ceased to be about improving the quality of learning in our public schools. There is a need to develop empowering narratives and a counter-critique to corporate testing reforms and their effects,” Tuma stated.
Fine, Shor and Tuma are among the founding members of Montclair (NJ) Cares About Schools, an activist parent group working in coalition with civil rights groups, NAACP, and teachers to provide alternatives to the logic of corporate test reforms in Montclair. Tuma added: “Montclair is an interesting case. It is a progressive, mixed, hip suburb near New York City and flanked by Newark to its south. It is known for creative, progressive education and the town fought a hard battle to desegregate its schools, creating a model magnet system and de-tracked classrooms. Ironically, it also happens to be home to a ‘who’s who’ in the national education reform movement. Many of our neighbors in Montclair have been influential in determining the course of national policy in education. That fact alone adds a different tone and dimension to the rhetoric in Montclair. Let’s just say that it makes for awkward glances at the supermarket.”
Tiner-Sewell sees this conversation as a natural extension of Fielding values: "Michelle and Ira bring with them their experience as critical scholars and activists. Their presence at Fielding is appropriate given Fielding’s values of social justice, equity, and diversity as these are embodied through our scholar-practitioner model.” She further reflected, “Graduate students have been coming to Fielding for 40 years to become agents of change and establish communities of practice in their own locales. In the true spirit of a teach-in, we hope to raise critical awareness of these issues on education.” Tiner-Sewell emphasized that these reforms have the capacity to redefine learning and redefine the role of public education in a democracy. “Regina and I agree that one outcome of the teach-in is to promote conversations that can help our society think about the role of quality public education in a democracy. We are excited by this collaboration with Ira and Michelle and our extended collaboration with the broader Chicago-area community.”
MICHELLE FINE is Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology, Women’s Studies and Urban Education at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). A highly influential educator and activist, her work addresses questions of social injustice that sit at the intersection of public policy and social research, particularly with respect to youth in schools and criminal justice.
Michelle has authored, co-authored, or edited more than 20 books, 70 chapters in key national and international volumes, and 80 journal articles. Her most recent book, with Michael Fabricant, is “The Changing Politics of Education: Privatization and the Dispossessed Lives of Those Left Behind.” A recognized pioneer in participatory action research, Michelle’s scholarship and activism address critical issues of what she calls “circuits of dispossession and resistance,” documenting how youth contend with, are affected by, and resist inequities and the rising “punishment paradigm” in prisons, schools, communities, and social movements.
Her activism includes serving often as expert witness in gender, race, and education discrimination cases, including test-based graduation requirements in urban districts. Most recently, Michelle has been intensely involved with MCAS - Montclair (NJ) Cares About Schools - an activist group of parents working with educators, labor and civil rights groups, in a struggle over corporate reform and testing in a racially integrated suburban school district.
IRA SHOR is a Professor of Rhetoric/Composition at the City University of NY’s Graduate Center (PhD Program in English) and in the Dept. of English at the College of Staten Island/CUNY. Shor started the new doctorate in Rhetoric/Composition at the CUNY Grad Center in 1993. There, he directs dissertations and offers seminars in literacy, Paulo Freire and critical pedagogy, whiteness studies, composition theory and practice, and the rhetorics of domination and resistance. At the College of Staten Island/CUNY, he teaches first-year writing, non-fiction, coming-of-age narratives, multicultural literature, and mass media. His 9 published books include a 3-volume set in honor of the late Paulo Freire, the noted Brazilian educator who was his friend and mentor: “Critical Literacy in Action” (college language arts) and “Education is Politics” (Vol 1, k-12, and Vol. 2, Postsecondary Across the Curriculum). Shor’s work with Freire began in the early 1980s and lasted until Freire’s unfortunate passing in 1997. He and Freire co-authored “A Pedagogy for Liberation in 1986”, the first “talking” book Freire published with a collaborator. Shor also authored the widely used “Empowering Education” (1992) and “When Students Have Power”(1996), two foundational texts in critical teaching. His “Critical Teaching and Everyday Life”(1980) was the first book-length treatment of Freire-based critical methods in the North American context. That book grew out of Shor’s teaching for Open Admission students in the City University in the 1970s, where he helped build an experimental writing program recognized as one of three successful efforts in higher education. Coming to the CUNY in 1971 after a PhD at Wisconsin, he experimented with critical literacy, taught Basic Writing for 15 years, and now teaches first-year composition and graduate courses.
Born in 1945 in the South Bronx of New York City, Shor attended public schools. After graduating from Bronx Science High School, Shor attended the University of Michigan (BA, English, 1966), then the University of Wisconsin (MA, 1968, and PhD, 1971), both sites of student activism in the 1960s. His dissertation was on Kurt Vonnegut whose fiction stood against elitism, war, and cruelty. After finishing his PhD, Shor started teaching comp and basic writing at Staten Island Community College, then a 2-year unit of CUNY. He joined the CUNY faculty when the democratic policies of Open Admissions and free tuition were under attack.