URI’s fall honors colloquium examines state of public education from multiple perspectives

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Free public lecture series begins Sept. 10

KINGSTON, R.I. – August 23, 2013 — Diane Kern knew support for education was ebbing when she received a request for proposals for the University of Rhode Island’s Honors Colloquium a year ago. Frustrated with sinking teacher morale, the national, highly financed movement to privatize public education and the toll of high-stakes testing and new teacher evaluations, the URI associate professor of education took only a weekend to develop the concept of a winning proposal.

The result is “Great Public Schools, Everyone’s Right? Everyone’s Responsibility?” the 51st edition of the popular URI lecture series, which will run Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. from Sept. 10 through Dec. 10. All programs are free and open to the public and held in Edwards Hall. The Oct. 15 lecture starts at 6:30 p.m., and there is one lecture Wednesday, Nov. 20. For a complete listing of all events, please go to http://www.uri.edu/hc/. Note to media, for most of the lectures, speakers will be available from 3:30 to 5 p.m. for interviews. To make arrangements, please contact Dave Lavallee, URI Marketing and Communications, 401-874-5862. All of the lectures will be streamed live at http://www.uri.edu/hc/, where the complete schedule of events is also listed.

“I was and still am very concerned about what is going on,” said Kern, the colloquium’s co-coordinator, a URI alumna and former public school teacher. “Everyone has an opinion about public education, from those on the late-night news shows to those on the sidelines at youth sports. The colloquium gives our community the chance to more deeply understand the issues facing K through 16 education alongside local, national and international experts.”

“I believe it is every child’s right to have access to a great public education, but I think to a great degree, many people feel that as long as their children are educated well, that’s acceptable. In so many ways, we have lost sight of the public, common good in this country,” Kern said.

Even the graphic developed for the program’s printed and web material depicts a schoolhouse with an eraser rubbing out its very existence.

“We have a broad spectrum of speakers, perspectives and issues that are shaping education, and in the long run, the quality of people’s lives,” said co-coordinator David Byrd, director of URI’s School of Education. “The citizens of Rhode Island are interested in education and how important it is to the state and nation.”

As part of the colloquium, URI honors students will attend all of the lectures and be enrolled in a class entitled “Zombie Ideas in Education,” during which students will discuss key issues and develop their own solutions based on their research. In addition, some of the colloquium speakers will address their class directly. For instance, on Nov. 26 at 2 p.m., Henry Giroux, will speak to class via Skype about his book, Education and the Crisis in Public Value, Challenging the Assault on Teachers, Students & Public Education.

The colloquium begins Tuesday, Sept. 10 with, “Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right,” the keynote lecture and title of the most recent book by Richard Rothstein, research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and senior fellow of the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. Rothstein is also the author of Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap; The Way We Were: Myths and Realities of America’s Student Achievement; The Charter School Dust-Up: Examining the Evidence on Enrollment and Achievement; and All Else Equal: Are Public and Private Schools Different?

Rothstein’s talk is followed on Sept. 17 by a panel discussion moderated by Elisabeth Harrison, Morning Edition host and education reporter for Rhode Island Public Radio. Co-sponsored by the radio station, “The State of Education in Rhode Island” is a conversation with public education leaders Deborah Gist, Raymond DiPasquale, and Eva-Marie Mancuso, and Scott MacKay, political analyst for Rhode Island Public Radio.

Other highlights are:

Sept. 24, “The Search for Knowledge,” a talk by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks, who will discuss her book, Caleb’s Crossing, URI’s common reading selection for the fall. According to her website about the book, Brooks takes a small piece of history and brings it to life: The 1665 graduation of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Native American from Harvard College.

Oct. 15, “The Reign of Error,” an interactive conversation with Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at New York University, and author of the newly released book, The Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools and bestseller The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, along with special guests from the Providence Student Union. Ravitch was assistant secretary of education under former President George H.W. Bush and a proponent of high-stakes testing, charter schools and choice. She now sees those movements as obstacles to preserving and improving public education.

Oct. 29, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women,” discussion with Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. This event will also be the Annual Gender and Women’s Studies Carlson Lecture.

Wednesday, Nov. 20, (the only Wednesday event), “Elevating All Students”, a lecture by Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Nov. 26, “Pathway to Freedom: The University of Rhode Island Talent Development Experience,” a teacher panel moderated by Edward Givens, assistant director of Talent Development and Earl N. Smith III, African studies professor and assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dec. 10, Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? Distinguished International Visiting Scholar address by Pasi Sahlberg, author of the book with the same title, and director general of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation, Helsinki, Finland.

The program is supported by:

Major Sponsor: URI Honors Program

URI Office of the President; URI Office of the Provost; The Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment; The Thomas Silvia and Shannon Chandley Honors Colloquium Endowment, as well as the following URI colleges, departments and offices, College of Human Science and Services, Talent Development, Multicultural Center, University College, WRIU’s The Beauty Salon, College of Arts and Sciences, The Harrington School of Communications and Media, John Hazen White, Sr. Center for Ethics and Public Service, Department of Gender and Women Studies, College of Pharmacy, College of Engineering, College of the Environment and Life Sciences, College of Business Administration, College of Nursing, Division of Student Affairs, Department of Communications and Marketing, Department of Publications and Creative Services, and Instructional Technology and Media Services. Rhode Island Public Radio is also a sponsor.

For more information on colloquium events contact Deborah Gardiner at 401.874.2381 or debg@uri.edu.

For information about ways to support the Honors Colloquium, contact URI Professor Lynne Derbyshire, Honors Program director, at 401.874. 4732.

If you have a disability and need an accommodation, please call 401.874.2303 at least three business days in advance. For TTY assistance, please call the R.I. Relay Service at 800.745.5555.