Civil Rights: Charter Schools and Teacher Unions

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Widow of Civil Rights Legend, Editor of MLK Papers to Keynote Event on Charter Schools, Teacher Unions, and Civil Rights

Panel featuring presidents of both Massachusetts teachers unions to be moderated by author of definitive book on the Freedom Riders

BOSTON – As the nation celebrates African-American History Month, a charter school leader who is the widow of a civil rights legend, and the man chosen by Mrs. Coretta Scott King to edit her husband’s papers, will deliver co-keynote addresses at “Civil Rights: Charter Schools & Teacher Unions,” a Pioneer Institute forum to be held Thursday, February 26 from 8-10:45 a.m. at the Omni Parker House in Boston.

Dr. Sephira Shuttlesworth is the widow of the late civil rights leader the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who persuaded the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to join the campaign to desegregate Birmingham, Alabama and after whom the city’s airport is named. Dr. Shuttlesworth currently directs the Mid-Michigan Leadership Academy in Lansing, which is a member of the SABIS® Network.

Stanford University history professor Dr. Clayborne Carson directs the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. Under his direction, the King Papers Project has produced seven volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., the definitive collection of King’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications and unpublished writings. He has also authored numerous books on the Civil Rights era.

The keynotes will be followed by a panel discussion to be moderated by Dr. Raymond Arsenault, John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History and History Department Chair at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. Professor Arsenault’s book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice was the basis for the 2010 PBS American Experience documentary Freedom Riders, which won three Emmys and a George Peabody Award.

Panelists will include the presidents of both the commonwealth’s teachers’ unions – Barbara Madeloni of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and Thomas Gosnell of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. Also on the panel will be Kevin Andrews, senior advisor to the Boston Alliance of Charter Schools, and Gerard Robinson, chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options Action Fund.

Tom Birmingham, Pioneer Institute’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Education, will offer introductory remarks. Birmingham is the former president of the Massachusetts Senate and a principal author of Massachusetts’ landmark 1993 Education Reform Act, which led the commonwealth to historic gains in student achievement and established charter schools.

The event is co-sponsored by SABIS® Educational Systems, INC., the Program on Education Policy and Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, the AppleTree Institute, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice.

After the event, Dr. Carson and Dr. Arsenault will be available for a book signing. This event is free and open to the public. Light breakfast fare will be provided. Home viewers can watch this event live online.

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.