ALBANY, N.Y. September 27, 2007 - Political strategist and commentator Donna Brazile, Education Trust Director Kati Haycock and other key national policymakers, community activists and influential leaders from business and education will gather in Albany next month to brainstorm on strategies to solve the most important issue facing education - an achievement gap that leaves too many of our children behind.
The three-day symposium, sponsored by New York State United Teachers, is dedicated to asking the hard questions and plotting courses of action to raise achievement among children living in poverty, many of whom are children of color.
The conference, Every Child Counts: A symposium dedicated to ending the gap, will be held Oct. 25-27 at the Desmond Hotel, Albany-Shaker Road, Albany. The media is invited to attend. Additional information is available at www.endingthegap.com.
In addition to Brazile and Haycock, participants include Harvard University Professor Ronald Ferguson; former New York Times education columnist and Economic Policy Institute researcher Richard Rothstein; national PTA Executive Director Warleen Gary; Business Council of New York State CEO Kenneth Adams; Pedro Noguera, a New York University urban sociologist; state Deputy Education Secretary Manuel Rivera; and Senior Deputy Education Commissioner Johanna Duncan-Poitier. State Education Commissioner Richard Mills and NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi will deliver opening remarks on Thursday evening, Oct. 25.
"While most public schools are very successful, we know that in communities throughout the state, too many children are struggling," Iannuzzi said. "This gap in achievement, which is most pronounced for students living in poverty - and very often for children of color - has harmful consequences for their futures and our state's future. Finding ways to end this gap should be everyone's top priority."
Iannuzzi said the 585,000-member union has made ending the achievement gap an organizational imperative.
"Every day, teachers and other educators must deal with the devastating effects of poverty, sub-standard housing, lack of health insurance, inadequate access to early childhood education and other social ills on their students," Iannuzzi said. "The impact on children - and on their ability to reach higher standards - is tremendous. If indeed 'every child counts,' and we certainly believe that is true, then we must all work to ensure that every child has the opportunity to succeed."
Iannuzzi said, "All too often, we concentrate only on what happens inside schools, ignoring the obvious impact of decisions made outside the school."
Iannuzzi said NYSUT's goal is to use the insights of nationally recognized experts to open a more collaborative dialogue and come up with an action plan for ending the gap. "This will be an opportunity to ask hard questions of ourselves, the presenters, the panelists and conference participants so we can develop and implement a meaningful plan of action," he said.
NYSUT represents 585,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers; National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.