Diverse Display Of Cultures Celebrated In Education

SUNY New Paltz’s School of Education will host the 20th annual Multicultural Education Conference “Celebrating Our Work, Forging New Paths,” on Friday, Nov. 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Student Union Building.

The Multicultural Education Conference began in 1994 when the school of education, as well as community and educational organizations that looked to make schools more multicultural and gender-neutral came together to address these needs in schools, according to the press release.

Nancy Schniedewind, an educational studies professor and coordinator of the conference said public education today is being standardized and privatized, so multiculturalism and social justice in schools are being lost.

“The purpose of the conference is to bring people together to reaffirm the wonderful work that many people are still doing, despite this context to try to create classrooms and schools that are in fact multicultural, inclusive and hear the voices of all the students,” Schniedewind said.

Schniedewind said by attending the event people gain new ways of viewing the world. They gain strategies that allow them to make a positive impact on society, regardless of the setting they are in.

The event will have three keynote speakers; Enid Lee, a writer, teacher and consultant in the area of antiracist and equity-centered education, Stan Karp, a policy advocate for New Jersey’s Education Law Center and Christine E. Sleeter, a professor emerita in the College of Professional Studies at California State University Monterery Bay.

Lee also the spoke at the first conference 20 years ago.

There will be workshops in the morning and afternoon that focus on addressing Islamophobia in schools, the current immigration policy’s impact on children, creative writing and reclaiming collective power with the Hudson River Playback Theatre.

Actor Michael Fowlin will also perform a one-person show that deals with issues of race, gender discrimination, homophobia, violence prevention, personal identity and the emotional pain special education children feel.

Schniedewind said she enjoys the event because of the passion for education people receive from it.

“We get evaluations every year and one of the things that I’m excited by is that people say they are reenergized in a sense that given the context of our society there’s so many issues and problems we’re facing,” she said. “We need this right now.”

A very diverse crowd usually attends the event, Schniedewind said.  The typical attendees include college students, high school students who are in diversity clubs, teachers, educators, college professors and community people.

“What’s exciting is that everyone finds something very meaningful to them,” she said.

Schniedewind said between 250 to 275 people attend per year, so it’s important to register early. For registration information, contact Christine Waldo-Klinger at conferencing@newpaltz.edu or call 845-257-3033. Tickets cost $40 for the public and $8 for students. Registration ends on Nov. 7.