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2016 WLU Summer Institute

Preconference Workshop - Previous Revision

CELTCELT / WLU Cosponsored Preconference Workshops
Continuing the tradition of political activism and advocacy

Thursday, July 18:  11:45 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Responses to the Corporate Takeover of Public Education: Stories of Agency and Actions
Click Here to Register Online

$65.00 (lunch included)

The intent of this year's preconference workshop is to present stories of agency and action that are inspirational for all those struggling against corporate-driven public education policies. The workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to hear directly from students, teachers, parents, union organizers, administrators, and community activists about the problems facing their schools/classrooms and the strategies being employed to respond. Issues include; union busting, charters and vouchers, school closings, equity and segregation, test-based teacher evaluation, and Common Core standards. Areas of the country represented will include: Chicago, New Orleans, Albuquerque, New York, New Jersey, DC, Baltimore, and Boston.

Our goal is for participants to return to their own school communities with knowledge of a wider range of strategies such as litigation, legislation, union actions, resolutions, petitions, mass-protests in order to effectively stem the tide of corporate reform.

Bess Altwerger, Towson University
Carol Burris, Principal in Long Island, NY
Brian Jones, Teacher in New York City
Morna McDermott, Towson University
Rick Meyer, University of New Mexico
Stephanie Rivera, Rutgers University
Ruth Rodriguez, Community Activist and former teacher
Alan Singer, Hofstra University
Diane Torres Velasquez, University of New Mexico
Sara Wottowa, Long Island, NY 


Bess AltwergerBess Altwerger is a founding member of Save Our Schools, a current Steering Committee member, and a key organizer of the summer 2011 SOS rally, march and conference in Washington, DC. As a former elementary teacher, longtime teacher educator/researcher, and lifelong education activist, Bess has devoted her life’s work to exposing and opposing the inequities and injustices of U.S. public education. Her books include Reading for Profit: How the Bottom Line Leaves Kids Behind, which exposes the corporate agenda behind federal literacy policies and the negative impact of mandated commercial reading programs on the literacy development of young children in urban schools.

Carol Burris

Carol Burris
is a dedicated, passionate educator who is a leader of the fight against the state’s educator evaluation system. She and her colleague Sean Feeney created a petition drive and signed up more than third of the other principals in the state to oppose this ill-considered approach. Thousands of parents and fellow citizens signed their petition.  


Brian Jones
Brian Jones is a teacher and doctoral student in New York City, and a member of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the social justice caucus of the United Federation of Teachers. He co-narrated the film, The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman, and contributed to the book, Education and Capitalism: Struggles for Learning and Liberation.

Morna McDermott
Morna McDermott
has been working in, with, and around public schools for over twenty years. Currently she is an Associate Professor at Towson University, in Maryland where she teaches various theory and methods courses in the College of Education. Her scholarship and research interests focus on democracy, social justice, and arts-informed inquiry in K-post secondary educational settings, and working with beginning and experienced educators.



Rick MeyerRick Meyer is a professor at the University of New Mexico where he teaches courses in reading process, family literacy research, and writing. He taught young children for almost twenty years before earning his doctorate at the University of Arizona. Rick is committed to progressive literacy practices and works to help children, teachers, and families understand the importance of identity, relationships, power, and agency in every literacy activity in which they engage. He is the immediate past president of the Center for the Expansion of Language and Thinking (CELT) and current president of the Whole Language Umbrella (WLU).

Stephanie Rivera
Stephanie Rivera
is a junior at Rutgers University, a future life-long educator, and a fighter for quality education for all. She is one of four founders of Students United for Public Education (SUPE) and runs her own blog at:

Ruth Rodriguez

Ruth Rodriguez holds a BA in social work and did graduate studies in Bilingual Education at Boston University.  She was a Community Fellow in the Urban Studies Department at MIT where she researched school violence.  She has spent most of her life time career in the field of education, as a kindergarten teacher, school/family and community coordinator,  and promoting parent/teacher collaboration. 



Alan Singer
Alan Singer
is a professor of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership and the program director of graduate programs in Social Studies Education. Dr. Singer is a former New York City high school social studies teacher and is editor of Social Science Docket, a joint publication of the New York and New Jersey Councils for the Social Studies. He is the author of Teaching Global History (Routledge, 2011), New York and Slavery: Time to Teach the Truth (SUNY Press, Excelsior Editions, 2008), Social Studies for Secondary Schools (Routledge, 3rd edition, 2008), and editor of a 268-page secondary school curriculum guide, New York and Slavery: Complicity and Resistance.  

Diane Torres-Velasquez

Diane Torres-Velasquez
is an associate professor at the University of New Mexico. She is a passionate supporter of the rights of all children and works to ensure that bilingual and special needs students receive the education to which they are entitled. As chair of the Latino Education Task Force, she is working with various agencies and groups to engage in the creation of legislation and initiation of lawsuits aimed at providing outstanding pubilc education to all. She is tireless in her efforts to bring groups together to work towards common goals.  

Sara Wottawa

Sara Wottawa
is a parent of an 8 year old in 2nd grade and a 5 year old in Kindergarten. She created the New York State Opt Out Guide for parents on how to opt their children out of the New York State assessments. She attended the United Opt Out rally in Washington DC for 4 days to occupy the U.S. Department of Education. She is currently taking political action by contacting and visiting state politicians regarding withdrawing NYS from the Common Core State Standards.






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