Past Conference Highlights

2015 Conference: Justice Not Just Tests

The 2015 keynote was a powerful merging of performance and personal storytelling. We’re extremely grateful to these individuals for sharing their art and personal stories of the how the high-stakes testing craze is affecting them as students, parents, teachers, and administrators. We heard how people from different locations are facing these systems through organizing, resisting, and visioning alternatives. We hope that you will take with you reminders of inspiration and creativity for our continued work in this beautiful movement.

Directed by Una Aya Osato, a performer, writer and educator, and a proud product of the NYC public school system. Performers: José Vilson is a teacher, activist, author of This Is A Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, and writer at Dao X. Tran is an editor based in the South Bronx, where she lives with her young daughter Jamila Lyiscott, Poet, Educator, PhD Candidate, activist, Graduate Research Fellow, Teachers College, Columbia University. @BlackRelevance. Erica Doyle is a native New Yorker who has been an educator for over 20 years. Rosie Frascella is an 11th grade English teacher at the International HS at Prospects Heights, a core member of NYCoRE, and a test resister.  Lady and Crystal are performing from Urban Word NYC, which provides FREE, safe and uncensored writing workshops to teens year round, and hosts the Annual NYC Teen Poetry Slam, NY Knicks Poetry Slam, local and national youth festivals, reading series, open mics, and more. Loco-Motion Dance Theatre: Loco-Motion promotes works of emerging social consciousness and provides a forum for young voices to be heard. www. They will be performing: “Measurements”: Choreographed and performed by: Zoe Dalzell-Sexton, Veronica Habacker, Vera Hogg, Lola Kenet, Murphy Penn, Jackie Marino Thomas and Sophia Turso.

nycore_graphic_2015_final_reversed José Vilson

Dao X. Tran

Jamila Lyiscott

Erica Doyle

Lady and Crystal from Urban Word

Rosie Frascella

Loco-Motion Dance Theatre

2014 Conference: Radical Possibilities


4th Grader Asean Johnson and his mother Shoneice Reynolds moderated by Ama Codjoe.

Keynote Panel

Asean and Shoenice (standing). Photo Credit: FMFP 2013
Asean and Shoenice (standing). Photo Credit: FMFP 2013

Asean Johnson, 4th Grader and Education Activist Shoenice Reynolds, Education Activist and Asean’s mom

As those who spend time in schools well know, our schools do not function as bubbles. Both in individual interactions, and in large-scale policies, the inequities and injustices that permeate our society as a whole are keenly evident inside classrooms. To quote Jean Anyon, a scholar who has been an inspiration to many of us, an urban school “is an institution whose basic problems are caused by, and whose basic problems reveal, the other crises in cities: poverty, joblessness, and low-wages, and racial and class segregation” (2005, p. 177). In understanding the significant challenges faced by students, parents, and educators, these contextual factors cannot be ignored.

Even in the midst of these inequities, schools remain full of passion and potential. The joyful possibility of justice and liberation is at the heart of the work of teaching and learning, and is what sustains many educators in a policy climate that devalues and undermines their work. That possibility is called into being when a student takes a risk to express a dearly-held idea, when a parent-teacher conversation  transforms both participants, when a teacher realizes that maybe they didn’t have to hold on to control so tightly.  We are reminded that a flash of understanding can appear; that inspiration can strike; that tomorrow can be different from today.

When those moments of possibility and justice occur inside schools, they are beautiful and powerful.  But they are not enough.  Not enough to counter the school-to-prison pipeline. Not enough to counter profit-driven education “reforms.” Not enough to dismantle the barriers to opportunity that exist for undocumented students, students living in poverty, students who experience racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, and other forms of structural oppression. The challenges and injustices that we face call us to draw upon all of our creativity, unity, and strength to imagine radically different schools in a radically different world.

The problems that our schools face will not be fixed by band-aids or by the lemon-juice-in-the-wound of teacher evaluation systems. They won’t be fixed by collecting more data, or by more testing, or by squeezing more phonics drills into a shorter time. As these pressures increase, we must become ever more creative in imagining radical possibilities and creating change, both within schools, and in the larger society of which they are a part. We must imagine ways for students to speak their experiences loudly and clearly, not just to classmates, but to their school, neighborhood, and global communities. We must imagine ways for parents and teachers to work together, not only during two nights of the year, but in lasting, sturdy coalitions that could revive the heart and soul of education. We must imagine ways in which each of us can move beyond our fears and our habits and reach out to others, building the passionate and powerful community connections that catalyze social change.

Anyon wrote of the power of such Radical Possibilities: “If those of us who are angry about injustice can recapture this revolutionary spirit of democracy, and if we can act on it together, then we may be able to create a force powerful enough to produce economic justice and real, long-term school reform in America’s cities (2005, P. 200).” Only by working as a people united can we imagine a different world; a world based in justice, equity, democracy, love and joy.

Reference: Anyon, J. (2005). Radical Possibilities:  Public Policy, Urban Education, and a New Social Movement, pp. 49, 177. Routledge:  New York, NY.


Part 2 of the Conference Opening: Intro’s, Urban Word Poet and Peace Poets


2012 Conference: Education is a Right! Not Just for the Rich or White!

NYCoRE’s 3rd Annual Conference

On Saturday, March 24, 2012 nearly 450 educators, aspiring educators, community workers, youth, and families came together at the Julia Richman Educational Complex in Manhattan to attend NYCoRE’s third annual conference. This year’s conference included over 50 spirited and empowering workshops that explored various dimensions of the conference theme: Education is a Right! Not Just for the Rich or White!

You can check out the conference program here: NYCoRE.Conference.Program.2012.pdf

The day was kicked off by a young spoken word artist Amani Breanna Alexander of Urban Word NYC.

Our keynote address was powerfully presented by Professor Kevin Kumashiro with a performance by DreamYard Action Project.

You can find recordings of these presentations below.




Amani Breanna Alexander – NYCORE Conf 2012 from Grassroots Education Movement on Vimeo.

Kevin Kumashiro – NYCORE Conf 2012 Keynote from Grassroots Education Movement on Vimeo.



Conference 2011: Whose Schools? Our Schools!

The challenges currently facing our educational system can be daunting and discouraging. Critical thought and effective pedagogy seem to be buried under the flood of calls for “accountability” and “increased test scores.” But in the face of all these challenges, educators are working together with youth, parents, and community activists to keep the fires of critical thinking and curiosity alive. Committed educators know that there is no silver bullet, no magic wand, and no place for rescue from above. We know that the true superheroes are those who work every day with dedication, creativity, and compassion. We know that we change lives not with promises of rescue, but by working in solidarity with youth and their families to be our own heroes and heroines.

This conference is an opportunity to get together and share how we are doing this, in our classrooms, our schools, and our communities. Join us in celebrating the daily courage of educators in our city and beyond. Join us in networking, connecting, and building a movement of educators and community members who care about social justice.

Conference 2010: “the struggle for justice does not end when the school bell rings”

2010 NYCoRE Conference Program