Schools reflect the long history of systematic oppression which impacts our society as a whole. The powers-that-be benefit from a system which mis-educates rather than educates, which encourages silence and complacency, which sends harsh messages about just whose lives seem to matter and whose are deemed as disposable. Practices and policies which recreate and perpetuate oppressive systems attempt to dehumanize those that they claim to serve, robbing young people of opportunities to create and dream, to invent and discover, to find their own voices, to write the stories of themselves. At the same time, teachers’ skills, care, and knowledge are marginalized as pressure mounts to turn classrooms into formulaic, scripted warehouses.
While a few billionaires and the politicians they have bought seek to reduce education to a profit-driven data game, those who learn and work in schools are fighting the power everyday in their classrooms and communities, striving towards equity and justice. Such spaces that nurture the dreamer, the inventor, the thinker, the artist, in all learners, are essential in reclaiming the humanity of teaching and learning. But if we seek to see those dreams realized, to see those creations come to life, then our educational communities must do more. They must seek to nurture the freedom fighter that each individual can be, to uproot the inequitable systems that destroy those dreams, to build the courage and community that leads to speaking truth to power, that leads to taking a stand for change. In the face of increasingly aggressive policies that seek to dehumanize students, their communities, and their teachers, those of us that stand for justice need to unite to “in order to fight the powers-that-be. Fight the Power!” (Public Enemy, 1989).
For NYCoRE’s 2016 conference, we are seeking proposals for workshops that speak to the theme of “Fight the Power!” We invite proposals of relevance to educators in varied settings that focus on a diverse range of topics. Relevant political critiques are welcomed, as are curricular ideas, classroom strategies, presentations on community work, and other ideas for inspiring practice. We are also specifically seeking workshops that contribute to bridging the gap that often exists between educators and young people by bringing the voices of youth into workshop sessions.
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