Author and superintendent to headline common good symposium on campus

By Christopher Blake
March 27, 2008

Highly acclaimed author and educational critic Jonathan Kozol along with Superintendent of New Orleans’ Recovery School District Paul Vallas will headline the Common Good Symposium, “No School Left Behind: Opportunities and Challenges in 21st Century Education,” at Cabrini College on March 28-29, 2008.

“As educators, we all seek the good in our students and this symposium provides us the opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous strides we have made towards our commitment to the Common Good while offering the occasion for us to collaboratively confront the challenges ahead,” Dr. Beverly Bryde, associate professor of education, said.

The Common Good Symposium is the academic event commemorating Cabrini’s 50th Anniversary. The symposium was chaired by the academic dean, Dr. Charlie McCormick.

“Yes, the topic of social justice is a common theme in almost all educational institutions, but what is most relevant to Cabrini is that our campus is a pioneer with regard to service,” Dr. Cythina Halpern, associate professor of romance languages, said. “We are affiliated with Catholic Relief Services and have made giant steps in this arena long before other institutions of higher learning.”

Educational leaders from across the country along with Cabrini professors and students will speak at the two-day event addressing a number of issues including educational equality, the effectiveness of choice plans, diversity issues, the role of charter and parochial schools and the relationship of higher education institutions to their community partners.

Kozol has written several award-winning books but is most acknowledged for “Savage Inequalities: Children in American Schools,” his noted work defending the rights of poor children and their lack of equal educational opportunity in the United States caused by the way public education is funded in this country. Kozol’s efforts have raised awareness in American society to promote equal access to education and resources.

The other speaker, Paul Vallas, served as chief executive officer for the School District of Philadelphia from 2002-2007 and as chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools from 1995 to 2001.

His execution of sweeping district-wide reforms in Philadelphia and Chicago turned both major cities into nationally recognized models for education reform. His commitment to education and the common good continues today in New Orleans.

Other highlighted speeches will come from a national authority on emotional intelligence, Anabel Jensel, professor of education at Notre Dame de Namur University and past president of the University of Dayton, Brother Raymond Fitz, who will talk about utilizing neighborhood schools not only for student success but for neighborhood revitalization.

“I do believe that this symposium held on our college campus will raise awareness of social issues at institutions of higher learning elsewhere, but more importantly, I believe that the event will raise a nationwide awareness that Cabrini is the institution in the forefront of social justice issues,” Halpern said.

Registration for the symposium ends on Thursday, March 27. Online registration is free for all Cabrini faculty, staff and students.

“It is important to remember that we are all educators in some way and we all have the responsibility to educate ourselves about the challenges and opportunities in the education field. Our future leaders are being educated in today’s schools,” Bryde said.

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Christopher Blake

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