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COE's multicultural conference marks 20 years

04-10-2014

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Wayne Au, an associate professor at the University of Washington, is the keynote speaker for the 20th annual Multicultural Education Conference.

Sacramento State’s College of Education will host its 20th annual Multicultural Education Conference from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the University Union.

The conference, which is free to local teachers and students, will feature a retrospective of sorts. More than 250 participants are expected to address the conference theme, “Social Justice & the Role of Teachers.”

The keynote speaker is Wayne Au, an associate professor at the University of Washington. His message is that the plethora of education reforms, despite good intentions, has been harmful to communities of color. Au taught language arts and social studies high school classes in his hometown of Seattle before teaching for a couple of years in Berkeley. “I kept getting laid off because of California’s budget cuts,” he says, “and decided to head to the University of Wisconsin to get my doctorate.”

Au returned to Washington in 2010 after a stint teaching at California State University, Fullerton. He has written and edited books on multicultural education and spoken widely on the subject. This is his first visit to Sacramento State.

Sac State Multicultural Education Professor Jose Cintron was present at the conference’s creation in 1994 and oversaw its success for the first seven years. He’s particularly proud of his colleagues for helping to set the diversity standard for the CSU system.

Cintron currently team-teaches a yearlong required diversity class that helps prospective teachers prepare for classrooms of predominantly underserved students. “It’s the only class like it in the 23-campus system,” he notes. “Our students must be keenly aware of the cultural differences to be successful.” The plain-spoken professor concedes that his message can be blunt, but he’s committed to bridging the cultural gap that can make the crucial difference between teacher and student.

Cintron’s message pervades the conference. “We bring scholars, graduates, students and community members together to promote the enduring virtues and value of diversity,” he says.

Sacramento State’s College of Education has been an epicenter of bilingual and multicultural education and activism for decades, which is one reason Cintron came here 25 years ago. As the first in his family to earn a college degree, he’s determined to help advance the cause of social justice for chronically underserved and economically disenfranchised students of color in the educational system.

Those seeking more information or who want to submit papers should visit www.csus.edu/coe/events/mce/.

For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156. – Alan Miller