Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education

Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Saturday, Jul. 19 11:00 AM (Eastern)

Ends: Saturday, Jul. 19 12:15 PM (Eastern)

Momentum is building across the country to reclaim the promise of public education. Decades of top-down edicts, privatization schemes, and polarization and austerity measures have taken their toll. We’ll discuss ways that community groups, unions, students, and parents are coming together with a progressive vision for what our schools can and should be.


Zerlina Maxwell


Zerlina Maxwell is a political analyst and contributing writer for,, and She writes about national politics, candidates, and specific policy and culture issues including domestic violence, sexual assault, victim blaming and gender inequality. She has consulted with the United States Department of State to promote the use of social media by students in the West Bank. Her writing has also appeared in JET Magazine, on, The Huffington Post, The American Prospect,, and She is also a frequent guest on Make It Plain with Mark Thompson on Sirius XM Left and on Fox News.

Other sessions: The Ethics of Storytelling, Daring to Internet While Female


Joe Bishop


Dr. Bishop is the Director of Policy with National Opportunity to Learn (OTL) Campaign with the Schott Foundation for Public Education, a national equity initiative focused on building an opportunity nation for all students. He is also Executive Director of Opportunity Action, an organization that promotes policy and elections work in the areas of high quality early learning, well-prepared and effective teachers, resource equity and college and career readiness for the 21st century. Mr. Bishop also is the national coordinator for the Coalition for Teaching Quality, a 100 member group representing civil rights, parent, rural, principal and youth organizations committed to all students having access to well-prepared and excellent teachers.

Helen Gym

Helen Gym

Seated in 2016, Councilmember Helen Gym is a longtime educator and community organizer and the first Asian American woman elected to Philadelphia City Council. In her first term, she led a schools agenda that championed the successful end of a state takeover of the Philadelphia school system, passed a tax on soda distributors to fund pre-K, and restored nurses, counselors, music programs and safe drinking water to every public school. She established the city’s first legal defense fund for renters facing eviction and introduced and passed the nation’s most expansive “Fair Workweek” law to give stable schedules and a path to full-time hours for 130,000 part-time workers. She is Vice Chair of Local Progress, a network of progressive municipal electeds, where she leads national efforts to support Sanctuary Cities, affordable housing, and public education.

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Mary Cathryn Ricker


MARY CATHRYN RICKER is the executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers. She was overwhelmingly elected to that position in July 2014 at the AFT’s biennial convention in Los Angeles. Ricker served as president of the Saint Paul (Minn.) Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 28, since 2005, as an AFT vice president since 2012, and a member of the AFT K-12 Teachers program and policy council since 2006. – See more at:

Other sessions: Education Caucus

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