Critical Issues About Public Education is Topic of Discussion

NEW PALTZ — “Charter Schools, School Funding and Separation of Church and State: Critical Questions About the Future of Public Education in New York State” is the title of a panel discussion to be held at the State University of New York at New Paltz on Friday, April 9.

The three panelists for the program will be Dr. Eric Rofes, a visiting assistant professor of education at Bowdoin College; Oyeshola Olatoye, director of public engagement, Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc.; and Cheryl E. Hordon, an associate director with the New York regional office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The effects charter schools have on public school districts will be the focus of remarks by Rofes. Olatoye will discuss problems and reforms in public school funding in New York State; and Hordon will concentrate her remarks on issues of separation of church and state that are raised by charter schools.

The discussion will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Lecture Center 112. The program is sponsored by the Education Council of the School of Education at SUNY New Paltz and funded, in part, by the Benjamin Matteson Lecture Fund. It is open to the public. There is no charge.

Rofes is a former public school teacher who taught students in pre-school through high school. While earning his doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Education, he concentrated his research in the areas of race/ethnicity in schools, school reform, and gay and lesbian studies. His dissertation, which focused on the effects of charter schools on public school systems in eight states and the District of Columbia, was presented at the annual meetings of the American Educational Research Association and American Political Science Association, as well as at a U.S. Senate Committee hearing on charter schools.

As director of public engagement, Olatoye promotes public dialog on issues of education and school finance reform. She has worked within the New York City and Washington, D.C. public school systems, and served as the education program manager at New York Cares, where she developed and coordinated more than 35 monthly educational programs for the New York City public schools, community-based organizations and others. Olatoye has taught sixth and seventh grade students in Washington D.C.’s Higher Achievement Program. She currently serves on the board of Brooklyn in Touch.

Hordon is an attorney who handles the ADL’s discrimination complaints, anti- Semitic incident reports and media complaints for New York State. She analyzes legal and policy issues on a variety of subjects, including separation of church and state, discrimination, freedom of speech and hate crimes. In 1997, along with other ADL leaders, Hordon lobbied Congress in efforts to defeat the Istook Religious Freedom Amendment.

The Benjamin Matteson Lecture Fund was established in 1982 by family and friends to recognize and honor the man who served as teacher, dean, and president of the college for 37 years, from 1912 to 1949. The Matteson Lectures are funded through the SUNY New Paltz Foundation and help ensure the continuation of programs which focus on prominent educational issues.