Chartering, Race and Class
Despite years of protest and attempts to reform, our nation and our schools struggle with a legacy of segregation and inequality. Charter schools were created as a way to improve public education by granting schools autonomy for site-based decision-making. How can we leverage this power in our schools so that we can better address the chronic issues of race and class that continue to divide us? Our expert panelists from the world of education and civil rights advocacy will explore these issues that tug at our conscience and our democracy.
Richard D. Kahlenberg is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation with expertise in education, civil rights, and equal opportunity. Kahlenberg has been called “the intellectual father of the economic integration movement” in K-12 schooling and “arguably the nation’s chief proponent of class-based affirmative action in higher education admissions.” Kahlenberg is an authority on teachers’ unions, private school vouchers, charter schools, turnaround school efforts, labor organizing and inequality in higher education. He also serves on the advisory board of the Pell Institute, the Albert Shanker Institute and the Research Advisory Panel of the National Coalition for School Diversity. He is the author or coauthor of six books, including A Smarter Charter: Finding What Works for Charter Schools and Public Education (2014); and Tough Liberal: Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race and Democracy (2007).
Shavar Jeffries is the President of Democrats for Education Reform. They promote more charter schools, school funding, and stricter teacher evaluations to revamp public education. Jeffries is an American civil rights attorney who in September 2015 became the president of Democrats for Education Reform which promotes more charter schools, school funding and stricter teacher evaluations to revamp public education.] A former assistant state Attorney General, he was a candidate in the 2014 election for Mayor of Newark, New Jersey] after which he became a partner at Lowenstein Sandler in August 2014.
Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State Sacramento. Dr. Vasquez Heilig’s current research focuses on the effects of high-stakes testing and accountability-based policies and incentive systems on urban minority students. Other interests include access, diversity, and equity in education. Dr. Vasquez Heilig has had his work cited in multiple publications and has appeared on national networks, including PBS.
Reverend Ray Rivera is the founder of Family Life Academy Charter Schools (FLACS), a community-grown network of three charter schools in the Bronx. Dr. Rivera has a long history of social activism in NYC starting with his work in Sunset Park, Brooklyn in the 1960’s providing youth services, including employment training, recreational programs, and group homes for delinquents. In the mid-1980s through the early 1990s, he worked as an educational advocate and trainer in School Districts #1 and #4 in Manhattan, empowering parents to become partners in the educational process. Dr. Rivera is founder of the Latino Pastoral Action Center (LPAC) and, over the years, has provided leadership and technical assistance to hundreds of faith-based organizations around the country, helping them develop holistic community-based ministries, including spiritual care, after-school, youth development, and adult education programs.
L. Joy Williams is a political strategist and founder of LJW Community Strategies. She serves as a strategic adviser to elected leaders and organizations across the country and has been featured as a commentator on BET, Pacifica Radio in New York and Los Angeles, MSNBC, Current TV and NY1’s Inside City Hall. She is also host of TWiB in The Morning! on the award winning online radio station TWiB FM. In 2006 she initiated Brooklyn Lives, an HIV/AIDS awareness project, after learning that Brooklyn was cited as the HIV/AIDS epicenter in New York City. In just a few weeks, she mobilized elected officials, nonprofit and business leaders, media companies and the community at large to provide free testing in over a dozen locations and engaged high school students to give HIV awareness presentations to their peers at high schools across the Borough. L. Joy is founding Chairman of Higher Heights for America, President of the Brooklyn NAACP, a National Board Member of PAC.