March 07, 2011

Brown bag session to focus on charter schools

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Charter schools and their role as public places will be the focus of a College of Education and Human Services Scholarship Brown Bag Series at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Wednesday, March 9.

Terri S. Wilson, assistant professor of foundations of education and qualitative research in the educational administration and higher education department, will present the session from noon to 1 p.m. in Wham 219. Faculty, staff, students and community members are welcome to attend “Separate Schools? Reconsidering Charter Schools as Public Spaces.” Bring your lunch if you’d like. Organizers will provide light refreshments.

Wilson said her presentation will explore the creation of charter schools organized around distinctive ethnic, cultural and linguistic identities and how the schools can actually separate families into communities by linguistic or ethnic differences.

She said that these school spaces could actually offer “different opportunities for public engagement for marginalized groups. Accepting that power is asymmetrical -- that it structures opportunities for interaction in inequitable ways -- supports claims for spaces set apart for dominant institutions. In this account, there might be compelling political and moral claims for schools to act as protected spaces for participation within groups.”

Wilson’s discussion will look at the different perspectives as she describes the opportunities a “counterpublic” charter school offers for public engagement while serving a particular linguistic and cultural community.

Based on her study of charter schools, “I offer resources to examine and evaluate claims that charter schools, especially ones organized around particular group differences, might be reinventing our understanding of schools as distinctly public spaces, and might have a role to play in building broader democratic engagement in education,” Wilson said.

Wilson earned her doctorate in philosophy and education in May 2010 at Teachers College, Columbia University. She was also an instructor, a research assistant and classroom facilitator at Columbia at times between 2003 and 2010. She completed her Bachelor of Individualized Studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, in philosophy, political science and education policy. She also has previous teaching experience at SIUC along with teaching, research and consulting experience at several education programs in Minnesota.

Her research and teaching interests include the philosophy of education, educational policy and educational politics including school choice, community organization, desegregation efforts and school-community partnerships, along with qualitative methods and the foundations of educational research. The focus of her current work is on charter schools, particularly those organized around linguistic and cultural communities, and how they are redefining how we see schools as public spaces.

For more information about the Fourth Annual Scholarship Brown Bag Series, call 618/453-2415 or look online at