Tuesday, March 22, 2005

American Democracy Project Events on Campus

American Democracy Project Events on Campus this week:
—Performances and lectures to focus on role of public education in a democracy

A series of events designed to celebrate and highlight the important role of public education in a democratic society will be held at William Paterson University in Wayne from March 22 to 30. The events, part of the University’s year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary in 2005, are sponsored by the American Democracy Project of William Paterson University, part of a nationwide initiative by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) that seeks to increase civic engagement levels of U.S. students attending public colleges and universities in the 21st century. All events are open to the public.

“This series places a spotlight on public education—K-12 and beyond—based on the belief that education is the foundation of a healthy democracy,” says Christine Kelly, assistant professor of political science and director of the American Democracy Project on campus. “It is particularly appropriate, as the University celebrates its 150th anniversary as a public institution of higher education, to emphasize the important roles such institutions play in preparing active citizens.”

The events begin on Tuesday, March 22, with “Honoring Commitment: Performance, Poetry, Politics,” to be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the University’s Power Arts Building at 25 Power Avenue, off Hamburg Turnpike, between Valley and Ratzer Roads in Wayne. The evening will feature a performance by the Northstar Navigators, a children’s Latin and African drumming troupe from the Montclair Academy of Dance directed by Reggie Workman, the renowned jazz bassist and composer, and Maya Milenovic, a choreographer and director of the Academy. Sonia Sanchez, the award-winning poet, will present a reading from her works. Also on the program will be David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, the non-profit advocacy center that initiated the ground-breaking Abbott vs. Burke lawsuit seeking equal funding for poor and urban school districts in New Jersey. The evening will conclude with the presentation of civic engagement awards to educators and students from the University and the local community who are making a difference; honorees will be selected by the American Democracy Project committee.

On Thursday, March 24, the series continues with “The Public Education Roots of William Paterson University: The Mission Continues,” to be held from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. in the Martini Teleconference Center in Hobart Hall on campus. The program will feature lectures by Christine Kelly, assistant professor of political science and director of the American Democracy Project, who will discuss the politics of public education, and Djanna Hill, assistant professor of secondary and middle school education, who will examine the history of teacher education at William Paterson. The event will conclude with presentations by students from the University’s Paterson Teachers for Tomorrow project, who will offer portions of oral histories they have gathered from retired Paterson teachers.

The series concludes on Wednesday, March 30 with a lecture at 7 p.m. in the Cheng Library Auditorium by Adolph Reed Jr., a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene. Reed’s topic will be “Access, Higher Education and Democracy: Why Not Free Public Higher Education?”

For additional information, contact the American Democracy Project at William Paterson University at 973-720-3921.

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