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Worcester State Explores the Challenges of Urban Education

Friday, April 06, 2012

 

Worcester State University is hosting a day-long conference on subjects pertaining to urban education today.

WSU's Center for Community Media and “Esperanza y Su Exito” are co-sponsoring the event, which is titled “Navigating the Gap: Crises in Urban Education.”

“Esperanza y Su Exito” is a Spanish-language television program that is now also a nonprofit corporation. WSU's Communications Department and Center for Community Media co-produce the show, which is now in its fourth season on Channel 13.

Airing from 8:00-8:30 PM on Thursday nights, “Esperanza y Su Exito,” which translates to “Hope and Your Success,” is hosted by Latina activist Esperanza Donovan-Pendzic. The show focuses on issues facing Latinos, such as healthcare, education, and voting as well as entertaining audiences with cooking, art and music. Donovan-Pendzic also works as an adjustment counselor in the Worcester Public Schools.

This conference is the brainchild of Donovan-Pendzic, who is a major advocate for furthering education in lower-income areas.

“In regards to education we are in trouble,” Donovan-Pendzic said. “Resources are being cut. There is an incredible gap between Latinos and other students on the MCAS.”

“Navigating the Gap” will begin at 7:45 AM and run through 3:00 PM. The education-focused conference addresses many issues that are the result of urban education in low-income areas.

“Many urban schools do not have sufficient computer technology available to the students,” conference organizer Alta Carroll said. “In the Middle America, they have it (computer technology) available at a young age. In urban areas, schools and libraries often don't have computers.”

The conference is free and open to public. Attendees include not just educators – who have the day off for Good Friday – but also advocates for education such as the Boys and Girls Club, and school committee members. All who are interested in the urban education crises are encouraged to attend this educational conference.

“The conference seems to be a way of getting the public to acknowledge that we need to look more closely (at urban education),” Worcester School Committee member John Monfredo said. “I'd be interested to see what happens after. I'm looking for concrete ideas to work on, not just rhetoric. Let's start walking the walk.”

“I'm hoping that the school administration realizes that there is a connection between social justice and education,” Donovan-Pendzic said. “Every day I see kids falling behind. We're trying very hard, but we're not doing enough; The resources are not be poured into the schools, and our kids are the ones that suffer from the lack of services.”

The conference includes a continental breakfast, three unique sessions and a luncheon featuring the keynote address, given by Lt. Governor Tim Murray.

The first session, entitled “Overcoming the Language Barrier,” will be presented by bilingual School Psychologists Dr. Bertha-Elena Rojas of Woodland Academy and Michelle Cadavid of the University Park Campus School.

Bilingual or ELL (English Language Learners) students often face a difficult time succeeding academically due to the language barrier, which Rojas and Cadavid will address in their session.

“Privatizing Education: The Effects on Public Schools,” presented by Cambridge College's Dr. James Horn, will address the issues private schools have on public schools.

“My presentation will be aimed at helping parents and teachers understand how values, policies, practices, and a lack of attention have increased school privatization, corporate privateering, and the demonization of public schools and public school educators,” Horn said.

“Public Education: Pipeline to Prison,” which is presented by Cambridge College's Dr. Kathleen Lynch and Dr. Fernando Padro, is the afternoon session that will explore the consequences of a poorly-funded education system.

“The three sessions are all very closely related, as they are examples of the crises facing urban education,” Carroll said.

The conference will be held in the WSU Student Center, in the Blue Lounge to begin, with the informational sessions held in the North/South Auditorium. Upwards of 200 people are expected to attend.
 

 

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