New Paltz espouses power and hope in 17th annual Multicultural Education Conference

NEW PALTZ – The State University of New York at New Paltz’s Humanistic/Multicultural Education Program in the School of Education, in collaboration with local educational organizations, will hold its 17th annual Multicultural Education Conference titled “Courage in the Face of Contradiction: The Power & Hope of Multicultural Education” on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. in the Student Union Building on the New Paltz campus. The deadline for registration is Nov. 10.

The conference program consists of a presentation by a keynote speaker, a panel discussion for Mid-Hudson educators and students, a workshop and a film preview followed by a discussion on diversity.

The conference will address the many contradictions in the educational climate and their effects on multicultural education. “Do more with less.” “One size fits all, but value diversity.” Supporting participants to critically understand how some current educational policies are undermining successful multicultural values and practices, it will enable educators, students, parents and community members to strengthen their expertise in creating equitable schools were all young people achieve and are respected.

Kevin Kumashiro, keynote speaker.

The keynote speaker is Kevin Kumashiro, professor of Asian American studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, director of the Center for Anti-Oppressive Education and current president of the National Association for Multicultural Education. He is a distinguished researcher author and editor of eight books and journal articles on anti-oppressive education and activism. His lecture titled “Five Lenses for Multicultural Teaching and Advocacy” will describe five concepts for rethinking the challenges and promises of multicultural education.

“We are so fortunate this year to have two nationally-known speakers in the field of Multicultural Education keynoting the conference,” said Nancy Schniedewind, professor in New Paltz’s Department of Educational Studies. “This will be a valuable opportunity to hear national experts, as well as multicultural educators in the Mid-Hudson region, offer both ideas and hope for teaching the diversity of young people in our schools and communities in effective and meaningful ways.”

A panel discussion of Mid-Hudson educators and students titled, “Keeping Multicultural Education Alive and Well in Tough Times” will allow teachers, administrators and students to share the methods and programs they’re executing in their schools, classrooms and clubs to keep multicultural education in the vanguard of their work.

A workshop for high school students will run concurrently, enabling students from high school diversity groups to network, share success stories and build upon each other’s experiences and ideas through active discussions and activities.

Lee Mun Wah

The conference will conclude with a preview of Lee Mun Wah’s new film “If These Halls Could Talk,” which focuses on the experiences of students of color in predominantly white schools, followed by a diversity dialogue. Additional issues highlighted in the film include the degree to which faculty, staff and administrators are prepared to educate diverse students and the opportunities for solutions and progress.

Mun Wah is a Chinese American documentary filmmaker, author, Asian folkteller and diversity trainer. For 25 years he was a resource specialist and counselor in the San Francisco Unified School District. Mun Wah is executive director of Srirfry Seminars & Consulting and his newest book is “Let’s Get Real–What People of Color Can’t Say & Whites Won’t Ask.”

The Multicultural Education Conference was founded 17 years ago by a dynamic group of community and educational organizations that included New Paltz’s School of Education particularly those in the Humanistic/Multicultural Program. Their objective was to address the need for advanced professional development, support and ideas for educators, students and community members that would enable them to make their schools more multicultural and gender fair. “All students should have the chance to learn in equitable and profound ways,” said Schniedewind.

For additional conference program information, contact Nancy Schniedewind, professor in the New Paltz’s Department of Educational Studies where she coordinates and teaches in the master’s program in Humanistic/Multicultural Education. Call (845) 257-2827 or email her at

For registration information, contact Christine Waldo-Klinger at or (845) 257-3033. Tickets cost $40 (with a $2 online processing fee) for adults and $5 for students (that includes breakfast and lunch).