Wednesday | May 14, 2014

The American ideal of “public education” has historically included a robust and complex conception of what it meant for education to be “public.” Included in that ideal were notions of elected local governance, universal accessibility, organic school-community relations and education for democratic citizenship. While American schools have often fallen short of that aspirational ideal, most especially in the segregation of schools by race and class, the ideal remained largely intact into the 21st century. But with the emergence of market based models of education reform, the meaning of “public education” has become contested. Democratic modes of governance are replaced by autocratic rule. Some now argue that “public schools” are nothing more than schools financed out of the public purse. Our panel approach will examine the meaning of “public” in “public education” from a variety of different perspectives.


Jeffrey Henig, Professor of Political Science and Education and Chair, Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis Politics & Education Program Coordinator, Teachers College, Columbia University

Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, New York State Alliance for Quality Education

Andy Smarick, Partner, Thought Leadership practice, Bellwether Education Partners


Deborah Meier, Senior Scholar, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development; Board member, Coalition of Essential Schools, FairTest, SOS and Dissent and The Nation magazines

Moderator: Leo Casey, Executive Director, Albert Shanker Institute

Sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute and the American Federation of Teachers, this conversation series is designed to engender lively and informative discussions on important educational issues. We deliberately invite speakers with diverse perspectives, including views other than those of the AFT and the Albert Shanker Institute. What is important is that these participants are committed to genuine engagement with each other.