Bulletin News

Panel Series to Focus on ‘Education Reform’


SUNY Cortland and the Central New York Teacher Professional Development Network will present a series of panel discussions and film screenings on the topic of “Education ‘Reform’: Impacts on Us All” starting with a Tuesday, Sept. 27, panel discussion.

The series, which is free and open to the public, will focus on the recent reforms in education, which are having a dramatic impact on learners, educators, schools, communities and taxpayers. The programs, which will feature two events in the fall and two in the spring, will explore topics in education reform and the controversies surrounding them. Faculty members are encouraged to invite their students to participate in these stimulating discussions.

The Fall 2011 events are as follows:

Four educators and education advocates will present a “Series Kickoff Panel Discussion” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27, in Brockway Hall, Jacobus Lounge.

The panel will provide an overview of recent education policies and their implications for teachers, students and the school community.

Panelists will include:

Heather Sheridan-Thomas, assistant superintendent of Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services;

Dan Kinley, director of policy and program development with the New York State United Teachers;

Fred Farah, an instructor at Tompkins Cortland Community College and a former principal of Homer (N.Y.) High School;

Anne Burns Thomas, assistant professor in SUNY Cortland’s Foundations and Social Advocacy Department at SUNY Cortland; and,

Bill Buxton, associate professor in the College’s Literacy Department.

The second panel discussion, called “Waiting for Superman ... Or Not: Documentaries and Discussion about School Choice,” will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9, in Brockway Hall, Jacobus Lounge.

The 2010 documentary “Waiting For Superman” follows several New York City families as they enter a lottery and attempt to enroll their children in charter schools to save them from their “failing” local schools. “The Inconvenient Truth Behind ‘Waiting for Superman’” is a 2011 documentary created by a group of New York City public school teachers and parents in response to the original film, which some contend is a misleading critique that blames teachers and oversimplifies the answer to public school failures.

The panelists will discuss the films and explore both the impact of charter schools and the challenges facing public schools. The presenters will include:

Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, an assistant professor of English Education at Columbia Teacher’s College;                                    

Sandra Vergari, an associate professor of educational administration and policy studies at

SUNY Albany; and,

a representative of the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM), makers of “The Inconvenient Truth Behind ‘Waiting for Superman.’”

Copies of the films will be available for faculty to borrow for classroom screenings. Reserve copies will be held in the library for students to borrow. Campus screenings in Sperry Center, Room 205, are scheduled as follows:

• “Waiting for Superman” on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; on Wednesday, Nov. 2, from 4:15 to 6:15 p.m.; on Monday, Nov. 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; and on Wednesday, Nov. 9, from 4:15 to 6:15 p.m.

• “The Inconvenient Truth Behind ‘Waiting for Superman’” on Thursday, Oct. 27 from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m.; on Wednesday, Nov. 2 from 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. and on Monday, Nov. 7, from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m.

Co-sponsoring the series within the College are the President’s Office, Academic Affairs, Assistant Provost for Teacher Education, the dean’s offices in arts and science, education and professional studies, and the Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies.

For more information, contact Alexis Abramo, who is employed in the College’s Childhood/Early Childhood Education Department as the teacher/leader quality partnerships project manager for the Teacher Professional Development Network of Central New York. She can be reached at (607) 753-4352 or by email.