The People’s Education Conference 2012: Presenters’ Bio

This section displays the biographies and works of those who presented at the 2012 Conference in D.C.

Lee Barrios
Teachers’ Unions, Teachers’ Rights, Teachers’ Voice

Lee Barrios. – Save Our Schools National Steering Committee

Lee Barrios, born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was an “Air Force brat” who lived in numerous states and Europe. She worked in the private sector for 25 years, raised three children, and then returned to school to become a teacher. Lee has an undergraduate degree in English and Journalism Educ. and received a M.Ed. in Secondary Education. She received her National Board Certification in 2003, and was PTA State Educator of Distinction 2004/05.

After 17 years of teaching, Lee is now retired. She remains active in education as a lobbyist and advocate for public education in Louisiana and is currently a candidate for the Louisiana State Board of Elementary & Secondary Education District 1. Lee is a founding member of Louisiana Coalition for Public Education and is Vice Pres. of St. TAmmany Association for Gifted/Talented Education. She is the former President of Louisiana Dressage & Combined Training Association and the former co-district commissioner of the U. S. Pony Clubs local affiliate.

Lee has served as SOS Information Coordinator (IC) for Louisiana, and has provided guidance and information on issues of legislation and lobbying to her fellow ICs. She works tirelessly on behalf of all students in her state.

Dave F. Brown
Why America’s Public Schools Are the Best Place for Kids

Dave F. Brown, Ed. D. – Professor

Dave F. Brown, Ed. D. is an educational researcher and a national consultant providing professional development for educators and teaching courses on young adolescent development, middle school design, urban education, cultural responsiveness, and classroom management. His research has been published in 17 journals and 5 book chapters. Dr. Brown recently completed his fourth book written for the general public titled Why America’s Public Schools Are the Best Place for Kids (2012). He is also the co-author of two editions of the book What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know (2007) and the author of Becoming A Successful Urban Teacher (2002).

Dr. Brown is a member of the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education and, is on the Editorial Advisory Boards and a reviewer for the Handbooks of Research in Middle Level Education, Middle Grades Research Journal, and Research In Middle Level Education Online.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige

Nancy Carlsson-Paige. Lesley University

Nancy Carlsson-Paige is a professor of early childhood education at Lesley University where she has taught teachers for more than 30 years. Professor Carlsson-Paige was a founder of the University’s Center for Peaceable Schools. Since the mid-1980’s, Nancy has written and spoken extensively about the impact of violence, especially in the media, on children’s lives and social development, and how children learn the skills for caring relationships and positive conflict resolution. She has written five books and numerous articles on media violence, conflict resolution, and peaceable classrooms and schools. Her most recent book is called Taking Back Childhood: A Proven Roadmap for Raising Confident, Creative, Compassionate Kids. Nancy is an advocate for policies and practices that promote children’s well being and encourage skills and attitudes that further peace and nonviolence.

Gina Chirichigno
School Diversity: Building a Movement

Gina Chirichigno – One Nation Indivisible

Gina Chirichigno a native of Denver, Colorado, graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA and Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC. Her work is informed by a wide range of experiences in education, organizing, and civil rights advocacy. She worked as a boarding instructor at the SEED Public Charter School of Washington, DC (2002-2003); handled employment discrimination claims as an intern for the Office of Human Rights in Alexandria, VA (2004-2006); and worked to develop Jonathan Kozol’s Education Action network (2007-2008).

Since 2008, Gina’s work has been almost exclusively centered around school integration policy advocacy and organizing. To this end, she’s worked with a number of civil rights organizations on projects related to integration and racial justice, including the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School (2008-2010), the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University (2010-2011), and the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (2011-present). Currently, Gina is the outreach coordinator for the National Coalition on School Diversity and co-directs the One Nation Indivisible project with Susan Eaton. In her home state of Massachusetts, she is a member of the Racial Imbalance Advisory Council and supports the work of TAG Boston (a network of educators in the Boston metropolitan area who are committed to social justice and racial equity) and the Boston Busing/Desegregation Project.

Susan DuFresne
Student Voices in Education Advocacy

Susan DuFresne – Washington State Save Our Schools Information Coordinator

Susan DuFresne, as a special education Kindergarten teacher & activist, Susan DuFresne works daily for civil rights. She believes a high quality, free, & equal education for ALL education that is designed by the REAL stakeholders of public education — without corporate influence. Susan DuFresne believes in strong unions for the future of all workers. She is a member of Social Equality Educators, acts as a Washington State SOS Co-Information Coordinator, and is the creator/moderator of #SOSchat on Twitter.
On Twitter…@GetUpStandUp2

Angela Engel
Corporate Education Reforms Winners and Losers.
Raising Our Voices; How to Organize Effectively

Angela Engel – Executive Director of Uniting4Kids

Angela Engel is the Co-Founder with Anthony Dallmann-Jones PhD, and Executive Director of Uniting4Kids She is the acclaimed Author of Seeds of Tomorrow: Solutions for Improving Our Children’s Education Angela earned a masters degree in curriculum and instruction and has spent the past twenty years in teaching and administration. In 2008 she led the Children’s Action Agenda, organizing children’s advocacy groups from around Colorado on a common legislative platform. Most recently she designed the “50 State Resolution” to end No Child Left Behind and authored legislation to reduce high-stakes testing, protect parental rights, and improve prevention and early intervention services for low-income children. She is a veteran facilitator for the Family Leadership Training Institute. Prior to teaching, she founded a mentoring and tutoring program for at-risk children and lives in Colorado with her two daughters Grace, 14 and Sophie, 12.

On Twitter…@angelaengel

Dani Gonzalez
The Top Ten Lies Education Reformers Tell You

Dani Gonzalez– Parent Activist and Co-Chair of Time Out From Testing

Dani Gonzalez is a parent activist and mother of two New York City public school children. She is featured in “180 Days Well Spent,” produced by the Center for Immigrant Families/Parent Leadership Project and Center for Inquiry. She is an active PTA member and co-chair of Time Out From Testing.

Nikhil Goyal
Student Voices in Education Advocacy

Nikhil Goyal – Lobbyist for the Students!

At age 17, Nikhil Goyal is the author of All Hands on Deck: Why America Needs a Learning Revolution to be published in September 2012 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.

On Twitter…@TalkPolitical

Helen Gym
Rethinking Schools: Education Activism for Social Justice

Helen Gym – Rethinking Schools

Helen Gym is a former teacher, a parent and community activist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she serves on the leadership board of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, an education newspaper, and as a board member of Asian Americans United.
Helen Gym is a Rethinking Schools editorial associate and longtime parent activist.

Karran Harper Royal
How [Some] African Americans and Civil Rights Leaders Got it Wrong

Karran Harper Royal – Parents Across America – New Orleans, Louisiana

Karran Harper Royal works as an Education Advocate in New Orleans. She is the Assistant Director of Pyramid Community Parent Resource Center. Her work at Pyramid involves providing one to one support to parents of children with disabilities and conducting workshops to help parents understand their rights under federal special education law. In addition to working with Pyramid, Mrs. Harper Royal is a founding member of Parents Across America, a contributor to Research on Reforms and is a consultant to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Mrs. Harper Royal is a tireless advocate for students with disabilities and has appeared in a number of broadcasts and publications related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and public education reform in New Orleans and is a member of several community groups. She is married with two sons Mrs. Harper Royal blogs at Education Talk New Orleans.
On Twitter…@KHRoyal

Sherick Hughes
Naming Problems in the Wake of NCLB/RTTT

Dr. Sherick Hughes – Associate Professor. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Sherick Hughes, Lead Facilitator, is an Associate Professor and the Graduate Program Coordinator of the Cultural Studies and Literacies Program in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His scholarship includes over 40 publications (either accepted, in press or in print) including, peer reviewed research journals, like Educational Researcher; Urban Review; Urban Education; Education & Urban Society; Journal of Black Studies, Race, Ethnicity, and Education; and the International Journal of Inclusive Education. His scholarship also includes several book chapters and three books, including the newly released title, The Evolving Significance of Race. Most recently, Hughes received the 2012 Border Crossers-New York City Award, and he was selected as one of eight honorees from the campus at the 10th Anniversary Gala of the Maryland Institute for Minority Achievement and Urban Education.
On Twitter…@SherickHughes

Shaun Johnson
Opting Out of High Stakes Testing: Why & How

Shaun Johnson – Towson University

Dr. Shaun Johnson is an assistant professor of elementary education at Towson University. Johnson is a former public school teacher and blogger. He returns to his roots every summer, teaching 5th graders in a DC public charter school. Shaun earned his PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana University and researches and publishes about gender in education, social studies, and education reform. He is the founder of At the Chalk Face, an education blog, podcast, and now nationally syndicated radio show.

Stan Karp
Rethinking Schools: Education Activism for Social Justice

Stan Karp– Rethinking Schools

Stan Karp taught English and journalism to high school students in Paterson, NJ for 30 years. He is an editor and frequent contributor for Rethinking Schools magazine and past co-chair of the National Coalition of Education Activists. He is currently Director of the Secondary Reform Project for New Jersey’s Education Law Center.

Fred Klonsky
Teachers’ Unions, Teachers’ Rights, Teachers’ Voice

Fred Klonsky – Chicago Activist and Former Local Union President

Fred Klonsky has been an art teacher in Park Ridge, Illinois for more than 25 years. Fred was a past president of the Park Ridge Education Association, the teachers’ union. Fred is a Writer whose work appears frequently at the Bank Street College of Education’s on-line publication Occassional Papers #27 The most recent edition features the theme Challenging the Politics of the Teacher Accountability Movement. On the subject Fred asks “If We Look to Buy the Cheapest Paper…Why Not the Cheapest Teachers?” You can read more of his essays at Fred Klonsky.

On Twitter…@fklonsky

Michael Klonsky
Teachers’ Unions, Teachers’ Rights, Teachers’ Voice

Michael Klonsky, Ph.D. – Save Our Schools National Steering Committee

Michael Klonsky, Ph.D. teaches in the College of Education at DePaul University in Chicago. He currently serves as the national director of the Small Schools Workshop and on the national steering committee of Save Our Schools (SOS).

Dr. Klonsky is a teacher educator who has spoken and written extensively on school reform issues with a focus on urban school restructuring. His book (with Susan Klonsky), Small Schools: Public School Reform Meets the Ownership Society (Routledge), is a critique of top-down school reform and the push towards privatization of public schools. He is also the author Small Schools: The Numbers Tell a Story (University of Illinois Small Schools Workshop) and co-editor of A Simple Justice: The Challenge for Teachers in Small Schools (Teachers College Press).

Dr. Klonsky is also the father of three daughters who all attended Chicago Public Schools (two of whom teach in the system) and the grandfather of a CPS 6th grader.

On Twitter…@mikeklonsky

Jaime-Jin Lewis
School Resegregation and Border Crossing in the Classroom

Jaime-Jin Lewis – Executive Director of Border Crossers

Jaime-Jin Lewis is the Executive Director of Border Crossers an education equity nonprofit that provides racial justice training and resources to elementary schools and teachers in New York City. She has worked as a committed activist, organizer and educator in the nonprofit sector for her entire adult life and in collaboration with many notable organizations, including the New York Restoration Project, Centro Conviven, The Piedmont Housing Alliance.

In 2011, Jaime-Jin and Border Crossers launched a “Talking About Race With K-5” initiative, which has already trained of over 85 educators from over 50 schools in New York City. Jaime-Jin was recently cited in the New York Times article, Why Don’t We Have Any White Kids” and the ColorLines article, ”Here Are Easy Ways to Have Tough Talks With Kids About Race.” This year, she will be presenting at the National Conference on School Diversity, the People’s Education Convention, and Facing Race 2012.
On Twitter…@bordercrossers

Barry Lynn
Privatizing Schools=Creationism, Demeaning, and No Sex Education

Barry Lynn – Executive Director of Americans United

Since 1992, the Reverend Barry Lynn has served as executive director of Americans United. for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to the preservation of the Constitution’s religious liberty provisions.

In addition to his work as a long-time activist and lawyer in the civil liberties field, Lynn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, offering him a unique perspective on church-state issues.

An accomplished speaker and lecturer, Lynn has appeared frequently on television and radio broadcasts to offer analysis of First Amendment issues. News programs on which Lynn has appeared include PBS’s “NewsHour,” NBC’s “Today Show,” Fox News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor,” ABC’s “Nightline,” CNN’s “Crossfire,” CBS’s “60 Minutes,” MSNBC’s “Countdown” with Keith Olbermann, Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CNN’s “Larry King Live” and the national nightly news on NBC, ABC and CBS.

In 2006, Lynn authored Piety & Politics: The Right-Wing Assault On Religious Freedom (Harmony Books). In 2008 he coauthored (with C. Welton Gaddy) First Freedom First: A Citizen’s Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State (Beacon Press).
On Twitter…@barrywlynn

Dr. John Mackiel
School Diversity 101: Building a Movement for Racial and Socioeconomic Integration
Dr. John Mackiel – Omaha Public Schools Superintendent

John Mackiel is the Superintendent of Schools in Omaha, Nebraska. The School District of Omaha covers more than 134 square miles, is Nebraska’s largest school district and the nation’s 99th largest. It is comprised of 50,300 students in 62 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, 7 high schools and 11 alternative schools/programs. The student population is 36 percent Caucasian, 30 percent African American, 30 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Native American and 2 percent Asian American.

Dr. John Mackiel is a graduate of the Antioch School of Law. He also received a degree in Community and Human Resources from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, a degree in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, as well as another in Guidance and Counseling. Early on Mackiel studied Education and English.

Zak Malamed
Student Voices in Education Advocacy

Zak Malamed – Education Reform Leader!

Zak Malamed is an 18 year old advocate for the student voice in education policy. He considers himself to be both a political and social activist who is passion driven. Recently, he founded the #stuvoice Twitter chat to promote the students’ perspective in education. Zak was president of his high school’s Student Government in and has held many other leadership roles as both a student advocate and a student leader. He looks forward to pursuing a career in public service and hopes to see that track begin as we collaborate to re-imagine the way we learn. On Twitter…@zakmal

James Martinez
Naming Problems in the Wake of NCLB/RTTT

James Martinez, Ph.D., – Assistant Professor. Valdosta State University

James Martinez, Ph.D., Facilitator is a tenure track assistant professor of education at Valdosta State University—USA. He received his doctorate in Education and Sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His primary research interests are in critical race theory; critical pedagogy; critical consciousness; middle school education; and racial/ethnic inequality. Other research interests include identity development during adolescence and youth gang risk factors, immigration reform, culturally relevant-responsive-sustaining teaching, and differentiated multicultural education instruction. He was a teacher for over a decade in inner-city and urban profile public schools, while coaching football, basketball and track.

Mark Naison
The Top Ten Lies Education Reformers Tell You

Mark Naison– Fordham Professor of African-American Studies and History

Mark Naison is a Professor of African-American Studies and History at Fordham University and Director of Fordham’s Urban Studies Program. He is a 1966 graduate of Columbia University, and a life long community activist. A tireless crusader spending his days and nights fighting for the other 99%.

He is the author of three books and over 100 articles on African-American History, urban history, and the history of sports. His most recent book White Boy: A Memoir, published in the Spring of 2002, was reviewed in the New York Times, the Nation and the Chronicle of Higher Education and was the subject of feature stories on Black Entertainment Television, New York One News and the Tavis Smiley show on National Public Radio. One of his most popular courses at Fordham, From Rock and Roll to Hip Hop: Urban Youth Cultures in Post War America” has also received media attention, becoming the subject of stories on National Public Radio, Bronx Net, and WFUV. His most recent course, “Feeling the Funk: Research Seminar on Music of the African Diaspora” focuses on Latin and Caribbean traditions on American Popular Music.

Monty Neill
Organizing to Overhaul Testing and Accountability.

Monty Neill – FairTest

Monty Neill, Ed.D., is Executive Director of FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing, and Chair of the National Forum on Educational Accountability. He has initiated national and state coalitions of education, civil rights, religious, disability, parent and other organizations to work toward fundamental change in student assessment and school accountability. His many publications address problems with testing, benefits of high-quality assessment, and resistance to high-stakes testing. For more Information FairTest’s Website

Representatives of The National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD)
School Diversity 101: Building a Movement for Socioeconomic Integration

The National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD)

The National Coalition on School Diversity (NCSD) is pressing for a more significant commitment to racial and economic integration in U.S. Department of Education programs – in magnet schools, charter schools, through inter-district transfers under No Child Left Behind, and in the new education funds Race to the Top and the Investing in Innovation Fund.

Participating organizations and individuals include (but are not limited to): the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, American Civil Liberties Union, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School, Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA, University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University, Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity at UC Berkeley School of Law, Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota, New York Appleseed, Sheff Movement Coalition, One Nation Indivisible, Professor Derek Black of Howard University School of Law, Professor Kevin Welner at the University of Colorado, Professor John C. Brittain at the University of the District of Columbia School of Law, and others.

Donna Nevel
School Diversity: Building a Movement

Donna Nevel – Participatory Action Research Center for Education Organizing (PARCEO>

Donna Nevel, a community psychologist and educator, coordinates the Participatory Action Research Center for Education Organizing (PARCEO) in partnership with the Educational Leadership Program at NYU/Steinhardt, where she teaches PAR. She is a long time activist for equity and justice in public education, for justice in Palestine/Israel, and against Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

Gary Ratner
What’s Wrong with No Child Left Behind. How You Can Lobby Congress to Overhaul It Now.

Gary Ratner – Citizens For Effective Schools

Gary M. Ratner, is Citizens Fro Effective Schools CES’ founder and Executive Director. He has been a nationally recognized authority on school reform law and policy for over 20 years. Mr. Ratner is a principal drafter of the Joint Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the policy statement now endorsed by more than 150 national organizations, including NAACP, National School Boards Association, National Council of Churches, NEA and National Parent Teacher Association. His article, Why The No Child Left Behind Act Needs To Be Restructured To Accomplish Its Goals and How To Do It was featured in the University of the District of Columbia Law Review in March 2007. Mr. Ratner’s calls to action have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Week, Education Week, The Boston Globe and the Huffington Post.

Becca Ritchie
Becoming a SOS Information Coordinator

Becca Ritchie – Save Our Schools Steering Committee Representative

Becca Ritchie is one of the many Washington Education Association members who spent a week at the New Organizing Institute this past September. She hails the Rainer UniServ council in Washington state. Becca has been active in her Union at local and state levels. She participated in the NO I Boot Camp.

Becca Ritchie is a veteran middle school teacher of 22 years in the Renton School District. During her early years as an educator, Becca started the Nelsen Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society and received a National Foundation for the Improvement of Education (NFIE) grant that allowed her to design programs to promote technology in the community. Becca received the “Heroes in the Classroom” award in 2011. Ritchie has been an active member of SOS as an Information Coordinator, and she has willingly assumed various leadership, guidance, and management roles within the organization. Currently, she serves on the Save Our Schools Steering Committee.

Stephanie Rivera
Student Voices in Education Advocacy

Stephanie Rivera – A Future Classroom Teacher, Current Cyberspace Teacher

Stephanie Rivera is a 20 year old student studying English and Education at Rutgers University. She is a high school mentor, teacher assistant, future teacher, and runs her own blog at Teacher Under Construction. Her work includes elevating student voices, working towards recreating a nation where the term “at-risk” is no longer a term associated with the term “school,” and ultimately empowering future world changers.
On Twitter…@stephrrivera

Ruth Rodriguez-Fay
The Top Ten Lies Education Reformers Tell You

Ruth Rodriguez-Fay – Queens, New York – Queens, New York

Ruth Rodriguez-Fay studied Bilingual Education at Boston University, was a Fellow at MIT where I developed a project on “Violence Prevention for High School”. She has a Bachelor Degree in Social Work from Atlantic Union College, MA. Ruth taught Kindergarten for 5 years at a Two-Way Bilingual Magnet School in Worcester, MA. Rodriguez-Fay worked as Family and Student coordinator in several schools. She was also a member of the Governor’s Readiness Project-MCAS/Assessment for Massachusetts’ governor, Deval Patrick. Ruth Rodriguez-Fay was the 1st President of Citizens for Public Schools in Boston, MA. Rodriguez-Fay participated as a presenter on diverse issues, one on these being the School to Prison Pipeline out of Harvard University. Her articles on education appear widely.

Dov Rosenberg
The Top Ten Lies Education Reformers Tell You

Dov Rosenberg – Instructional Technology Facilitator

Dov Rosenberg loves to help teachers use technology. He has been serving North Carolina public school students and teachers for eleven years as a teacher and Instructional Technology Facilitator. He also teaches 6th-8th grade Academically/Intellectually Gifted kids, puts out the yearbook, and sometimes they let him DJ at school dances. He is often on Facebook so send him a friend request http://www.facebook.com/dovrosenberg. He lives in Durham with his wife and daughter, who is starting first grade this year.

Yasmin Secada
School Diversity: Building a Movement

Yasmin Secada – Parent Leadership Project

Yasmin Secada is an organizer with the Participatory Action Research Center for Education Organizing (PARCEO) and the Parent Leadership Project in NYC. A recent graduate of a master’s program in Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy at NYU/Steinhardt, she is a former student advocate and youth counselor and has worked with community groups focusing on youth development, advocacy, and academic support.

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
School Diversity: Building a Movement

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley – Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley is an assistant professor in the Department of Education Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education. Her research focuses on examining the impact of segregation and resegregation in American schools, along with exploring policy options for a more integrated society.

Brenda Shum
School Diversity: Building a Movement

Brenda Shum – Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Brenda Shum is Senior Counsel, Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law where she oversees litigation designed to guarantee that all students receive a quality education in public schools and institutions of higher learning, and to eliminate discriminatory practices in school discipline, school funding and special education.

In the wake of the 2007 Parents Involved decision, the Educational Opportunities Project has also taken a leading role in developing strategic ways to implement constitutionally permissible school assignment plans which value diversity in K-12 schools. Brenda works closely with other civil rights advocates to challenge legislators and the Administration to ensure that national education policy reflects a genuine commitment to the success of poor and minority students. Brenda oversees the Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP), which promotes parental involvement in education as a means to narrow the achievement gap between low-income, minority students and their more affluent, non-minority peers.

Timothy D. Slekar
Opting Out of High Stakes Testing: Why & How

Timothy D. Slekar – Towson University

Timothy D. Slekar is an associate professor of teacher education. Dr. Slekar began his career in education as a 2nd grade teacher in Williamsburg, VA. He also taught 5th grade in York, PA. Dr. Slekar attended the University of Maryland at College Park where he earned his Ph. D. in social studies education. During his studies Dr. Slekar worked with 7th and 8th grade teachers in the city of Baltimore. Dr. Slekar has published research in some of the top educational research journals (Teacher Education Quarterly, Theory and Research in Social Education, Journal of Thought). Dr. Slekar is one of the founders of United Opt Out

Ceresta Smith
Student Voices in Education Advocacy
Opting Out of High Stakes Testing: Why & How

Ceresta Smith – Florida

Ceresta Smith, an American University alumna, is a twenty-three-year veteran educator who has taught grades six through twelve reading and language arts, as well as beginning and advanced television production. She earned her National Board Certification in Adult/Young Adult English/language arts in 2002, and now serves as a teacher leader and mentor.

As a committed educator, activist and education blogger, Ms. Smith founded the Concerned Teacher Coalition in 2009 to address the inequities in Miami-Dade County’s predominantly African-American public schools. One of the original Event Planning Committee members of Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action, she continues to champion for equity and quality pedagogy in America’s public schools. Currently, she is one of the founders and administrators of United Opt Out National, an organization that is working to end the destructive nature of high stakes testing – a tool used by corporate profiteers to facilitate the privatization of public education. Ceresta is also regular blogger, her education articles can be found on Daily Kos and in other periodicals..

Jesse Turner
The Top Ten Lies Education Reformers Tell You

Jesse Turner – Director of the Central Connecticut State University Literacy Center

Dr. Jesse Turner lives in Connecticut, where he is the Director of the Central Connecticut State University Literacy Center, teaching advanced clinical graduate courses for literacy specialists. As part of his department’s community engagement mission, the Literacy Center at CCSU provides over $130,000.00 worth of tutoring by certified teachers to local children, free of charge, every year. Dr. Turner works closely on a daily basis with children, parents, and teachers and is an activist and advocate for children, parents, and teachers. He has spoken to audiences across the nation about the problems created by the No Child Left Behind Act.

In 2010 Jesse created the Facebook group “Children Are More Than Test Scores” as a way to connect individuals and communities struggling against the NCLB law. Two years ago Jesse walked 400 miles in 40days from Connecticut to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the negative impact NCLB/RTTT was having on children, parents, teachers, and schools. With a core group of people he met on his walk, and online, Jesse helped build the coalition that became the Save Our Schools March, and Week of Action. His work includes advocating for children, parents and teachers, chairing conferences, writing grants, and organizing community based projects.

Michael A. Walker-Jones
Teachers’ Unions, Teachers’ Rights, Teachers’ Voice

Dr. Michael A. Walker-Jones – Executive Director, Louisiana Association of Educators

Dr. Michael A. Walker-Jones is an honor graduate of the University of Rochester, New York, and holds a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum, Human Learning, and Education Policy.

Dr. Walker-Jones has been an advocate for teachers and students through the Kentucky Education Association and the Arkansas Education Association where he became an FOB, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association where he served as regional manager excelling in staff development, motivation and coaching skills.

As a trained Arbitrator and conflict resolution specialist, he settled over 120 individual, gang, labor, and civil disputes while he was active in that area during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. He is currently the Executive Director of the Louisiana Association of Educators where he continues to be an outspoken advocate for public education and the elimination of violence through effective interpersonal communication skills and conflict resolutions processes

Victoria M. Young
What’s Wrong with No Child Left Behind. How You Can Lobby Congress to Overhaul It Now.

Victoria M. Young – Doctor of Veterinary Medicine [DVM]

Victoria M. Young is returning to the SOS conference this year, partnering once again with Gary Ratner, to convince you not only to lobby congress but also to lobby your neighbors, friends, and acquaintances. They all need help in seeing that inequality in educational opportunity is wrong and can be made right through the law we call No Child Left Behind. She feels the country must answer some questions before they can responsibly progress forward. What is the role of the federal government in education? How do we provide excellent education to all?

Dr. Young is an Idaho veterinarian, parent, school volunteer, and has served on school district committees covering topics including safe schools, science education, strategic planning for school improvement, and policy writing. She has 20 years of experience pursuing better schools in her community and is now committed to using what she learned to improve America’s low-achieving public schools. Her extensive reading about the history and policy of American public education and her experiences in an impoverished school district led her to become an author. Education’s Missing Ingredient: What Parents Can Tell Educators was published in 2009 and its second edition, The Crucial Voice of the People, Past and Present will be released soon.

She began her volunteer service to the Save Our Schools effort as the Chair of the Information Coordinating Committee for the 2011 March and Rally and continues to honor July 30th as National Support Public Education Day. She hopes to see it become a national tradition.