Xian Barrett

Xian Barrett

Xian has a deep passion for social justice pedagogy to support student activism and working with students of highest need. He believes strongly that only by hearing and acting upon the voices of educators, parents and students can we improve our educational system and world. Currently the National Program Director at New Voice Strategies, Xian previously taught Law, History and Japanese Language and Cultures in the Chicago Public Schools. He has received numerous teaching awards, including being selected as a 2009-2010 U.S. Department of Education Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow. And has been twice fired for his work promoting educator and student activism. He is a founding member of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators and the former political director of the Chicago Teachers Union. His favorite 13 nouns are ice cream, empathy, Karaoke, Community, manga, football, decarceration, Facebook, Japanese fashion, textured hair, aspiration, anti-aversive racism and nothorses.

Xian was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in Champaign, Illinois. He completed high school at age 15, and graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


Matt FarmerMatt Farmer

Matt Farmer is a trial lawyer. He also serves as a faculty member for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy’s “Building Trial Skills” program. In his spare time, Matt is a fierce advocate for public education, about which he writes frequently for The Huffington Post. He also plays guitar and sings and has performed at venues from the Jacara Club in Hiroshima, Japan to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Nikhil GoyalNikhil Goyal

At age 17, Nikhil Goyal is the author of All Hands on Deck: Why America Needs a Learning Revolution, be published by Alternative Education Resource Organization. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, NBC, Huffington Post, and Edutopia. Nikhil has spoken to thousands at conferences and TEDx events around the world, from Qatar to Spain.


Shoneice Reynolds & Asean JohnsonAsean Johnson

Asean Johnson was born October 7, 2003 in Chicago, IL to the proud parents of Shoneice Reynolds and Antonio Johnson.  Asean started his education in a private Christian school on the south side of Chicago.  He displayed strong leadership skills and was the Valedictorian of his Kindergarten class.  While attending private school, he was active in student council and participated in school plays.  Due to the of the lack of student activities at his school, Asean engaged in football, drama, acting, modeling and spoken word with several organizations.

Asean began public school in 3rd grade at Marcus Garvey in Chicago,IL.  Asean’s leadership skills were promptly noticed by his teachers and classmates.  He was voted Class President by his peers even though he was considered the “new kid.”  Asean’s activism started during the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) strike in September 2012 where he learned that all students weren’t treated equally. Asean saw the inequality of school funding and resources and immediately joined the fight for education justice.

In December 2012, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced school closures.  Asean then took his activism to his neighborhood.  He helped organize rallies, informative pickets, and started a petition.  Asean encouraged his classmates and community to speak out against his school closing.  Beginning in February 2013, Asean spoke at countless forums and public hearings arranged by CPS where he expressed his love for his school and community.  In May, Asean participated in a city-wide “3 Day March for Education Justice” with his school and CTU.  At the end of the march, Asean delivered a passionate impromptu speech before thousands regarding his school closing and 54 others.  Although, Marcus Garvey was removed from the closure list, 50 schools remain to be closed.  This continues his fight for education justice in Chicago and across America.  In August 2013, Asean made history by being the youngest speaker at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington at the age of 9.

Asean is a member Chicago Student Union, where he continues his activism, and he enjoys playing football with the Blue Island Untouchables.  He resides with his mother and brother on the Southside of Chicago.


Alex Kacsh

Alex Kacsh

Alex Kacsh is a student organizer based in Denver. Starting his political actions in his freshman year of high school he knew we need an education revolution. It wasn’t just about his education or the school he attends; it is about all students of America and everyone’s education. Alex is a senior and is one of the founders of Students 4 Our Schools and one of the leaders of the Denver education movement and many other actions.




Peter McLarenPeter McLaren

Peter McLaren is a Professor in the Division of Urban Schooling, the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles. He was recently appointed Distinguished Fellow in Critical Studies, Chapman University.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1948, and raised in both Toronto and Winnipeg, Manitoba, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at Waterloo University in 1973 (he specialized in Elizabethan drama), attended Toronto Teachers College and went on to earn a Bachelor of Education at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Education, a Masters of Education at Brock University’s College of Education, and a Ph.D. at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. He has received doctorates honoris causa from The University of Lapland, Finland and the Universidad del Salvador, Argentina.

Professor McLaren taught elementary and middle school from 1974-1979, and most of that time was spent teaching in Canada’s largest public housing complex located in Toronto’s Jane-Finch Corridor. Cries from the Corridor, McLaren’s book about his teaching experiences, made the Canadian bestseller list and was one of top ten bestselling books in Canada in 1980 (MacLean’s Magazine), initiating a country-wide debate on the status of inner-city schools.

After earning his doctorate in 1983, he served as Special Lecturer in Education at Brock University where he specialized in teaching in urban education and language arts contexts. Professor McLaren also served as a consultant for the National Film Board of Canada and served on the Canadian Cancer Society Educational Subcommittee, 1980-83.

Professor McLaren left his native Canada in 1985 to teach at Miami University of Ohio’s School of Education and Allied Professions. He also served as Director of the Center for Education and Cultural Studies, and held the title of Renowned Scholar-in-Residence at Miami University (the youngest professor to receive this title) before being recruited by U.C.L.A. in 1993, a year after the Los Angeles uprising.

Professor McLaren is a dual Canadian-American citizen, having become a US citizen in 2000.

Professor McLaren is the author and editor of nearly 50 books and hundreds of professional publications on education and social justice. His writings have been translated into over 20 languages.

Five of his books have won the Critic’s Choice Award of the American Educational Studies Association.

The charter for La Fundacion McLaren de Pedagogia Critica was signed at the University of Tijuana in July, 2004 and was later moved to Ensenada, Mexico under the title, Instituto McLaren de Pedagogia Critica y Educatcion Popular. Instituto McLaren de Pedagogia Critica y Educacion Popular offers courses, degrees and training in popular education and has been named in Professor McLaren’s honor. La Catedra Peter McLaren was inaugurated in Venezuela on September 15, 2006 as part of a joint effort between El Centro Internacional Miranda and La Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela. In 2013 Professor McLaren became Associate Member, “Cátedra ‘Comandante Supremo Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías’” de la Universidad de Ciencias Pedagógicas “Enrique José Varona” de La Habana Cuba. He serves in the capacity of Cooperantes Internacionales for Centro Internacional Miranda, a progressive think tank in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2004 Professor McLaren received a doctorate, honoris causa, at the University of Lapland, Finland and in 2010 received a doctorate, honoris causa, from the University of Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina. . In 2012 he received the title, Honorary Chair Professor at Northeast Normal University in Northeast China. A Fellow of the Royal Society and Commerce, England, since 1985, Professor McLaren was also recently inducted as an American Educational Research Association (AERA) Fellow, Class of 2012.

Professor McLaren’s work has been the subject of three recent books: Teaching Peter McLaren: Paths of Dissent, edited by Marc Pruyn and Luis M. Huerta-Charles (New York: Peter Lang Publications) [translated into Spanish as De La Pedagogia Critica a la pedagogia de la Revolucion: Ensayos Para Comprender a Peter McLaren, Mexico City, Siglo Veintiuno Editores] and Peter McLaren, Education, and the Struggle for Liberation, edited by Mustafa Eryaman (New Jersey: Hampton Press) and Crisis of Commonwealth: Marcuse, Marx, McLaren, edited by Charles Reitz.

Professor McLaren’s book, Life in Schools: An Introduction to Critical Pedagogy in the Foundations of Education (Allyn & Bacon), has been named one of the 12 most significant writings by foreign authors in the field of educational theory, policy and practice by the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences; the list includes Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire and Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich and books by Pierre Bourdieu and Howard Gardner. Life in Schools is currently in press with Paradigm Publishers in its 6th edition.

Professor McLaren was a recipient of a “Lilly Scholarship” at Miami University of Ohio, guest-lectured at the University of British Columbia, Canada, as a “Noted Scholar”, presented the Eminent Scholar Lecture at The Ohio State University, delivered the Claude A. Eggerston Lecture at the Annual Meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society, and presented the Harold Wolpe Memorial Lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.

Professor McLaren was the inaugural recipient of the Paulo Freire Social Justice Award presented by Chapman University, California in 1993. In 2000, Professor McLaren received the Amigo Honorifica de la Comunidad Universitaria de esta Institucion by La Universidad Pedagogica Nacional, Unidad 141, Guadalajara, Mexico. Professor McLaren was the inaugural recipient of the International Activist Scholar Award for the Advancement of Marxist Theory and Practice, awarded by the Institute for Education Policy Studies in June, 2006. In 2007, he was presented with the Liberty Medal by Soka Gakkai International-USA, a Buddhist organization with 12 million members worldwide. Over the past several years, Professor McLaren received The Central New York Peace Studies Consortium Lifetime Achievement Award in Peace Studies, the 2013 Award of Achievement in Critical Studies by the Critical Studies Association (Athens, Greece), the First Annual Social Justice and Upstander Ethics in Education Award presented by the Department of Education, Antioch University, Los Angeles, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed, Inc and The Miami University Department of Educational Leadership, the inaugural recipient of the Social and Economic Justice in Public Education Award presented by the Marxian Analysis of Society, Schools and Education, a special interest group of the American Education Research Association, the Paulo Freire International Social Justice Award presented by the Paulo Freire Research Center, Finland, and The Ann-Kristine Pearson Award in Education and Economy presented by The University of Toronto’s Center for the Study of Education and Work, the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar Award presented by The American Education Research Association, the International Award in Critical Pedagogy presented by the government of Venezuela’s Ministry of Education, the First International Award for Social Justice and Equity through Education award, presented by the Instituto Universitario Internacional de Toluca (Mexico), The First Annual Social Justice, Equity and Global Ethics Award presented by the National Conference on Equity and Social Justice in Education, the “Friend in Solidarity with the Struggle of Mexican Teachers” award presented by the National Union of Educational Workers (Michoacan), and the “Distinción Académica Educación, Debates e Imaginario Social” from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. In addition, the Higher Council of Community Government, the Council for Civil Affairs and the Education Commission of Cheran, Michoacan, presented McLaren with the Defence of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Award commemorating the second anniversary of the defence of the forests. Professor McLaren was awarded Westchester University’s First Annual Excellence in Anti-Global-Capitalist and Activism Award by the conference founders of Critical Theories in the 21st Century: A Conference of Transformative Pedagogies. Most recently, Professor McLaren received the 2013 “Academia Honor Award” by the Education and Science Workers’ Union for his work in social sciences and his struggle in labor and democracy, Ankara University, Turkey, and the “Award of Honor in Critical Pedagogy” from the Department of Adult Education and Lifelong Learning, Ankara University, Turkey. Instituto Pedagógico de Estudios Superiores de Jalisco, Mexico, recently awarded Professor McLaren with the “Contribution to Humanity Award.” Professor McLaren received the Outstanding Educator of America Award for 2013 from The Association of Educators of Latin America and the Caribbean. It was given to him by the President of the Association for his “extraordinary contribution to pedagogical theory worldwide” and for his “help in the development of education of the people.”


Deb MeierDeborah Meier

Deborah Meier is a former kindergarten teacher, founder of several public K-12 schools in East Harlem and Boston, author, active in Coalition of Essential Schools and Forum for Education and Democracy.

View Deb Meier’s webpage at webpage – deborahmeier.com.  Meier has spent nearly 50 years inside public schools as teacher and principal, written several books and spoken widely on behalf of a different view of possibilities for all kids.  Check out “Bridging Differences,” the blog she shares with Diane Ravitch on edweek.org.


Shoneice Reynolds & Asean JohnsonShoneice Reynolds

Shoneice Reynolds is a mother of two young men: Krisean, age 16 and a sophomore at Urban Prep Charter, and Asean, age 10, and a 4th grader at Marcus Garvey in Chicago. Shoneice stared her activism in September 2012 with the CTU Strike. She participated in the strike as a union member and a parent, along with her then, 9 year old son, Asean Johnson. Shoneice then realized the inadequate funding in public education and the difference between public and charter schools made by our elected officials and The Board of Education.

Her passion for public education grew when CPS announced in January 2013, the proposed closing of over 100 public elementary schools. Two of those schools being her son’s school, Marcus Garvey, and a school where she worked as a School Clerk. She then began the fight to save public education. Having children both in public and charter schools she saw the difference in quality education.

As an employee of CPS she saw the difficulties faced with saving the school where she worked and decided to use her “parent voice.” Shoneice then devoted her time to her community and organized “Save Marcus Garvey School Campaign.” Shoneice and her son Asean started a petition, letter drives to elected officials, community out reach rallies, and a host of other events to get the community involved with saving her son’s school. They attended countless hearings, forums and CPS board meetings to expressed the importance of Marcus Garvey and extended themselves to be a voice for the school.

In May 2013, Marcus Garvey and its community participated in the “3-Day March for Education Justice.” Shoneice and Asean gained national attention for their efforts when Asean delivered a heartfelt, impromptu speech to save his school. After all the community efforts, Marcus Garvey was saved from closing and she didn’t stop there. During the summer of 2013, Shoneice joined the Organizing Department of CTU for a internship where she organized communities, registered voters, and encouraged the community to more involved with the issues of Chicago. Shoneice also continued to be a national voice for parents in education and has been featured in several documentaries and interviewed nationally and internationally. She continues to fight against education reform, high stake testing, unequal funding, racial inequalities, and lack of teacher-parent-student voice in public education.

Shoneice spends her time encouraging parents and students to be a voice in education and holding elected officials responsible for the disinvestment in public education. Shoneice is an active member of Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), C.O.R.E, and newly founded BAM.


Ricardo RosaRicardo Rosa

Ricardo D. Rosa is an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. His current research centers on emerging articulations of neoliberalism, educational privatization and its effects on racially, culturally and economically subordinated communities. He is also active in the research of curricular theory and praxis within and beyond the boundaries of normative schooling. He specializes in curriculum and instruction, bilingual education, language policies, critical literacy, and social studies education.

Ricardo is the co-chair of the S.E. Massachusetts and R.I. Coalition to Save Our Schools, active in the programming and board of 3rd EyE Unlimited (an organization that seeks to engage and empower youth to become leaders to positively transform their community), and engaged in various community based critical educational projects.



Bob George – National DirectorBob George

Teaching is my life’s work. Whether I am working with 4 years olds, as I did when I began formal instruction, or with 45 year olds who I mentored during their educational endeavors, I teach as I breathe. Nurturing growth in the people I work with, and in my self, is my want. While I could check any or all of the above boxes, the one missing is as I see myself; I am a gardener. I nurture growth.

My work has been in urban settings throughout the United States. Almost all of my work has been with minority students and with children of poverty. As an Educator, I yearn to bring a love of learning to life in children. As a parent, I am able to relate to a Mom or Dad’s desire to provide their offspring with the best education. I believe that that last statement must not be followed with the words “money can buy.” For all of my life I have been out on the streets fighting for equality and equity. I do this within schools too.


David Greene – National TreasurerDavidGreene

David Greene is a former 38-year Social Studies teacher and coach in The Bronx, Greenburgh, Scarsdale, and Ardsley High Schools in New York. He has been an adjunct and has mentored Teach For America Corps members for Fordham University. He has been a Coordinator of School Partnerships for Pace University in Pleasantville, NY. He is a staff member of WISE Services, a 501 c 3 that helps high schools create and run experiential learning programs for HS seniors. He led two workshops at the Save Our Schools March and conference in 2011 and has spoken at both Occupy DOE-DC demonstrations in 2012 and 2013. An active blogger, DCGMentor.com, his blog posts have appeared in Anthony Cody’s Living In Dialogue as well as Diane Ravitch’s. His work has appeared in Valerie Strauss’s Washington Post web-based column, The Answer Sheet. He wrote the most responded-to Sunday Dialogue letter in the New York Times entitled, “A Talent For Teaching,” May 4, 2013. His new book on teaching and what quality education can be, DOING THE RIGHT THING: A Teacher Speaks, was published in December 2013.



Becky L. Noel Smith – National SecretaryBeckySmith

Becky is a teacher – parent – grad student – turned engaged/enraged citizen.  She entered the teaching profession in 2002, and the longer she taught, the more she questioned the constraints that were placed upon teachers, students, and the inner workings of the classroom.  As a third grade teacher in a Title I school, she became disheartened by how much her personal philosophy and moral compass were set into question by the educational policies and practices that were forced upon her school.  Since then, she has become a parent and a grad student who finds her time best spent in the struggle to resist the corporatized and undemocratic deform movement.  Her graduate research has been grounded in the philosophy of education, the history of schooling in America, and social theory as it applies to oppressive structures that confine teachers and students.  Her passions for parenting, teaching, and learning have made SOS an excellent (and logical) place to merge her passions.