It is time for revolution.

It is time for non-negotiable demands.

It is time to reclaim our public schools and demand all for all children.

Join us in Philly as we dialogue with an incredible group of revolutionary

leaders who will help the Opt Out movement, the people’s movement, to craft

a revolution that will tear down the test and punish system and help reshape

our country, our communities, and our public schools so that equity and true

democratic thinking becomes our reality. Help fund the conference here.


Friday Evening Keynote

StephenKrashenStephen Krashen

Stephen Krashen is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Southern California. He is best known for developing the first comprehensive theory of second language acquisition, introducing the concept of sheltered subject matter teaching, and as the co-inventor of the Natural Approach to foreign language teaching. He has also contributed to theory and application in the area of bilingual education, and has done important work in the area of reading. He holds a PhD in Linguistics from UCLA, was the 1977 Incline Bench Press champion of Venice Beach and holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He is the author of The Power of Reading (Heinemann, 2004, second edition). His recent papers can be found at his website.

Saturday Morning Keynote

220px-Chris_hedges_blurChris Hedges

(The following  portions of Chris’s biography were originally posted at Truthdig.)

Chris Hedges, whose column is published weekly on Truthdig, has written twelve books, including his latest book, Wages of Rebellion, published in May, 2015.  Hedges previously spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and The University of Toronto. He currently teaches prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey. Hedges began his career reporting on the Falkland War from Argentina for National Public Radio. He went on to cover the war in El Salvador and Nicaragua for five years, first for The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio and later The Dallas Morning News.

Following six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief there for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he joined the Times’ investigative team and was based in Paris to cover al-Qaida. He left the Times after being issued a formal reprimand for denouncing the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.

In 2012, Hedges notably sued President Barack Obama after the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration appealed, and the decision was overturned. In 2014 the the Supreme Court denied to review Hedges v. Obama. The act still allows for presidential authority for indefinite detention without habeas corpus.

Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and studied classics, including ancient Greek and Latin, at Harvard.  In 2014, Chris Hedges was ordained as a minister at the Second Presbyterian Church. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey and is married to the Canadian actress Eunice Wong with whom he has two children. He also has two children from a previous marriage. Please read Chris’s complete biography at Truthdig.

Saturday Afternoon Keynote

antonia darderAntonia Darder

Dr. Antonia Darder is a distinguished international Freirian scholar. She holds the Leavey Presidential Endowed Chair of Ethics and Moral Leadership at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles and is Professor Emerita of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. Her scholarship
focuses on issues of racism, political economy, social justice, and education. Her work critically engages the contributions of Paulo Freire to our understanding of inequalities in schools and society. Darder’s critical theory of biculturalism links questions of culture, power, and pedagogy to social justice concerns in education. In her scholarship on ethics and moral issues, she articulates a critical theory of leadership for social justice and community empowerment. Her work also engages issues of culture and its relationship to recent developments in neuroscience.

She is the author of numerous books and articles in the field, including Culture and Power in the Classroom (20th Anniversary edition), Reinventing Paulo Freire: A Pedagogy of Love, A Dissident Voice: Essays on Culture, Pedagogy, and Power and Freire and Education. She is also co-author of After Race: Racism After Multiculturalism; and coeditor of The Critical Pedagogy Reader, Latinos and Education: A Critical Reader, and the forthcoming International Critical Pedagogy Reader.

Sunday Morning Keynote

jill stein picJill Stein

Jill Stein is the Green Party’s 2016 candidate for president of the United States. She is an organizer, physician, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. She has led initiatives promoting healthy communities, local green economies and the revitalization of democracy – addressing issues such as campaign finance reform, green jobs, racially-just redistricting, and the cleanup of incinerators, coal plants, and toxics. She was a principal organizer for the Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit. Dr. Jill Stein is a mother, physician, longtime teacher of internal medicine, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. Jill was born in Chicago and raised in suburban Highland Park, Illinois. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1973, and from Harvard Medical School in 1979.  Read her entire biography at her website.

billayers_2Bill Ayers

William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago (retired), member of the executive committee of the Faculty Senate and founder of both the Small Schools Workshop and the Center for Youth and Society, taught courses in interpretive and qualitative research, oral history, creative non-fiction, urban school change, and teaching and the modern predicament.  A graduate of the University of Michigan, the Bank Street College of Education, Bennington College, and Teachers College, Columbia University, Ayers has written extensively about social justice, democracy and education, the cultural contexts of schooling, and teaching as an essentially intellectual, ethical, and political enterprise. He is a past  vice-president of the curriculum studies division of the American Educational Research Association.

Ayers’ articles have appeared in many journals including the Harvard Educational Review, the Journal of Teacher Education, Teachers College Record, Rethinking Schools, The Nation, Educational Leadership, the New York Times and the Cambridge Journal of Education.  His books include Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident, with Ryan Alexander-Tanner To Teach: The Journey in Comics , with Bernardine Dohrn Race Course: Against White Supremacy, with Rick Ayers Teaching the Taboo: Courage and Imagination in the Classroom, Teaching toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom, with Kevin Kumashiro, Erica Meiners, Therese Quinn, and David Stovall Teaching toward Democracy: Educators as Agents of Change, A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court, Fugitive Days: A Memoir, On the Side of the Child: Summerhill Revisited, Teaching the Personal and the Political: Essays on Hope and Justice, The Good Preschool Teacher: Six Teachers Reflect on Their Lives, and To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, (Teachers College Press, 1993) which was named Book of the Year in 1993 by Kappa Delta Pi, and won the Witten Award for Distinguished Work in Biography and Autobiography in 1995.

He lives in Hyde Park, Chicago with Bernardine Dohrn, partner, comrade, friend, co-parent and
grand-parent, inspiration, co-author, lover, and soul-mate for close to half a century. Read more on Bill Ayers at his website.

Location: International House Philadelphia

Tentative Schedule

5:00-8:00 p.m. Welcome Reception Stephen Krashen

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Registration
9:00 – 10 a.m. Meet and Greet with UOO Leaders
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Keynote with Chris Hedges
11:00 – 12:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions
12:00 – 12:45 p.m. Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Panel #1 Global Privatization and “the Advancing Endgame Result!”
2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions
3:00 – 3:45 p.m. Panel #2 Civil rights: Reclaiming the Narrative
3:45 – 4:00 p.m. Break
4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Keynote with Antonia Darder

9:00 -10:00 a.m. Keynote with Jill Stein
10:00 to 10:15 break
10:15 – 11:15 p.m. Breakout Sessions
11:15 – 11:30 break
11:30-12:30 Keynote with Bill Ayers
12:45 – 1:15 p.m. Closing Remarks from UOO leaders


Book Talk with Ricardo Rosa and Joao J. Rosa: Capitalism’s Educational Catastrophe: And the Advancing Endgame Revolt!
Community Empowerment
Student Activism
Opt Out 101
Black Lives Matter
Teachers of Professional Conscience
Media and Messaging
Our Demands: What’s Next?
Union Caucus Building
More TBD soon!

Hotels: We will have a block of rooms available at Homewood Suites University City, 4109 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 – click this link to reserve your room! Hotel has shuttle and is only five blocks away from conference location!

Meet the UOO TEAM (click pic to enlarge):

UOO admin

Top row left to right: Morna McDermott McNulty, Michael Pena, Denisha Jones, and Peggy Robertson.

Bottom row left to right: Ceresta Smith, Tim Slekar, Ruth Rodriguez and Rosemarie Jensen



Morna McDermott has been working in, with, and around public schools for over twenty years. Currently she is an Associate Professor at Towson University, in Maryland where she teaches various theory and methods courses in the College of Education. Her scholarship and research interests focus on democracy, social justice, and arts-informed inquiry in K-post secondary educational settings, and working with beginning and experienced educators. She explores how the arts serve as a form of literacy that challenges traditional classroom learning and dominant narratives. Recent art work and installations have emphasized the value of art as a “public pedagogy” in creating grass roots social-political-educational change. Dr. McDermott currently serves as the Arts Based Educational Research section editor for the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy. In addition to publishing in educational journals and books, she writes ongoing columns for www.educationalchemy.com . She currently lives in Baltimore with her husband and two children. Contact Morna at tylerderden2012@gmail.com or 410-294-3223.

Michael Peña is currently in his seventh year of teaching in Washington State’s public school system. A former Biology teacher, he now focuses on helping students pass the alternative assessment to the end of course test. He has been a member of both the End of Course and Collection of Evidence writing teams but now works to stop the excessive punishment that is standardized testing on students in general, and our most susceptible students in particular. He is an active member of the Washington Educators Association and the NEA BATs caucus. A founding member of the Washington Badass Teachers group, he uses social media as his main form of resisting education reform, fighting for educational equity, and in the eradication of all standardized tests. He can be found on Facebook , Twitter, and Instagram (penas_place). His email is penamw@gmail.com.

Denisha Jones is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Howard University. She is a former early childhood teacher and preschool director. She received her PhD from Indiana University in 2013. She has been active in the fight to stop the corporate takeover of public education since 2011. She is an admin for the Badass Teachers Association, and has recently joined the administration team of United Opt Out and has worked with Save Our Schools to expose the dangers of privatizing public education. She blogs about education for emPower Magazine, @ the Chalk Face, and the Badass Teachers Association. Her research interests include the de-professionalization of teaching, service-learning, providing meaningful professional development for early childhood teachers, and promoting diversity in education.

Peggy Robertson has taught kindergarten, first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth grade, beginning her career in Missouri and continuing in Kansas. She was hired by Richard C. Owen Publishers in 2001 to serve as a Learning Network Coordinator and spent the next three years training teacher leaders and administrators in educational theory and practice in the state of Colorado, as well as around the country during the summer months. In 2004 she was hired as the Literacy Coordinator by the Adams 50 School District in Westminster, Colorado. While working in Adams 50 she mentored teachers and administrators and supported them in the writing and implementation of school development plans. She earned her master’s degree in English as a Second Language at Southeast Missouri State University. She currently is a literacy interventionist at an elementary school in her 19th year of teaching and devotes the rest of her time to her work at United Opt Out National. Her blog can be found at www.pegwithpen.com . Contact Peggy at writepeg@juno.com or 720-810-5593.

Ceresta Smith, an American University alumna, is a twenty-three-year veteran educator who has taught grades six through twelve reading and language arts, as well as beginning and advanced television production. Contact Ceresta at cerestas@yahoo.com or 786-303-4785. She earned her National Board Certification in Adult/Young Adult English/language arts in 2002 and now serves as a teacher leader and mentor. In September of 2008, she moved from a school deemed “high performing” to serve as a teacher leader and literacy coach in a school deemed “low performing.” While there, she became a 2009 – 2010 recipient of a Jordan Fundamental Grant that facilitated the implementation of Text Titans, a literacy building initiative designed by her and funded by Brand Jordan. A private foundation created by basketball great Michael Jordan, Brand Jordan honors teachers who motivate and inspire students toward achieving excellence. As a committed educator and activist, Ms. Smith founded the Concerned Teacher Coalition in 2009 to address the inequities in Miami-Dade County’s predominantly African-American public schools. One of the original organizers of Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action, she continues to champion for equity and quality pedagogy in America’s public schools.

Timothy D. Slekar is currently the Dean of the School of Education at Edgewood College in Madison, WI. He began his career 24 years ago as a 2nd grade teacher in Virginia. He then taught 5th grade in Pennsylvania. Dr. Slekar attended Millersville University where he earned a Master’s degree in Education and continued on to earn his PhD in social studies education at the University of Maryland at College Park. During his studies Dr. Slekar worked with 7th and 8th grade teachers in the city of Baltimore Maryland. Dr. Slekar has published research in various top education research journals including Teacher Education Quarterly, Theory and Research in Social Education and Journal of Thought. Dr. Slekar is one of the founding members of United Opt Out National. He has been a radio cohost on podcast, local & national radio as well as on numerous television news shows as an expert education policy analysist including MSNBC, CNN & Fox News. He is host and co-founder of BustED Pencils radio show.

Ruth Rodriguez holds a BA in Social Work and did graduate studies in Bilingual Education at Boston University. She was a Community Fellow in the Urban Studies Department at MIT where she researched school violence. She has spent most of her career life in the field of education, as a kindergarten teacher, school/family and community coordinator, and supporter of parent/teacher collaboration. Ruth is a member of the national Save Our Schools Steering Committee and sits on the Advisory Board of Citizens for Public Schools (CPS) in Boston, MA. Ruth served on MA Governor Deval Patrick’s Readiness Project on MCAS and Assessment, an initiative that brought together a diverse group of educators, to advise the governor on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MA high stakes exam for promotion and graduation requirement).

Rosemarie Jensen is a former teacher and currently a parent activist. She received her M. Ed. from the University of Florida and taught K-1 for ten years in both Alachua and Broward Counties. In addition, she trained teachers in Alachua and surrounding counties in Math Their Way and later worked as a K-2 literacy trainer for teachers in Broward County. In the past 15 years she has been an active participant in her local schools and has worked to end high stakes testing and corporate reforms. She has been involved in community, state and national efforts to support public education and teachers. She has opted her son out of FCAT for the past three years in Florida.

UOO Conference, February 26 – 28, 2016: Transcending Resistance, Igniting Revolution