March 14, 2001
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Sonia Nieto, professor of language, literacy and culture in the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts, will speak about “Multicultural Education: Beyond Diversity Dinners and Sensitivity Training,” on Friday, March 30, at 8 p.m. in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. Her talk is free and open to the public.

Nieto will be the keynote speaker of a two-day conference, continuing on Saturday, March 31, called “The Color of School Reform: Inequalities, Public Education and the Challenge of Change.” Theresa Perry, vice-president for community relations and professor of education at Wheelock College, will speak at the conference about “How Racism Affects African-American School Achievement” on Saturday, March 31, at 10 a.m. Michele Foster, professor of education at Claremont Graduate University, will discuss “Racism in Schools: Here and There, Now and Then” at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Ira Shor, professor of English at the College of Staten Island (CUNY), will address “Class Issues: Critical Pedagogy for Social Change in the Classroom” at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Designed for teachers interested in exploring issues of reform and racism in public schools, the conference talks are open to the public at no charge. There is a $25 fee for participation in the workshops and other events for teachers who wish to earn between seven and nine professional development points.

Sonia Nieto worked as a public school teacher in Brooklyn before she joined the University of Massachusetts faculty in 1980. She has taught courses in language, literacy,and culture. Among her research topics are the education of Latinos and the instructional value of Puerto Rican children’s literature. From 1989 to 1992, she was director of the cultural diversity and curriculum reform program in the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts.

“Multicultural education is education for and about everybody, not for and about African-Americans, with Latinos and Asians thrown in once in a while,” Nieto has said. She is the author of many essays and journal articles. Her books include Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education (1992), The Light in Their Eyes: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities (1999) and Puerto Rican Students in U.S. Schools (2000).

“The Color of School Reform” is the work of a group of Amherst College students and recent graduates, and is sponsored by the Language and Literature Fund of the Department of English, the Charles Houston Fund for Social Justice and the Office of the President at Amherst College.