NDSG VIRTUAL 2022 ANNUAL MEETING
Public Education on Fire:
Organizing for Equity, Resistance, & Healing
February 17 – 19, 2022
The NDSG Virtual Annual Meeting 2022 was held via Zoom, with multiple sessions from Friday evening, February 18 through Saturday, February 19, with an optional social gathering the evening of Thursday, February 17.
We are facing violent inequities and racism in our schools; we are strained to breaking by COVID19 and by attacks on critical race theory and progressive leadership: public education is under fire. How do we sustain our own fire as teachers and as learners? How do we show solidarity with each other in navigating this critical moment in history? What can we do individually and collectively to resist racism and achieve social justice in our communities? What can we do to preserve our schools as public, democratic institutions and support our students, their families, and all our teachers and staff?
At NDSG, we came together to support one another and also to strategically organize how to overcome these challenges. We heard from those who are working to make change, brainstorm next steps, and create a community where we can see and hear one another, and be heard, as we work together. NDSG 2022 focused on making healing connections, nurturing clarity, and organizing at small and larger levels. Teachers, High School and University students, Parents, Community Activists, and Administrators were invited to join in small group dialogues, exploring the connections between our personal and collective struggles and building vision and sturdy structures for united action.
This year’s gathering was fully virtual and took place via the Zoom online meeting system. Registrants received additional details, including session times and join codes following registration. All session schedules included breaks to prevent screen fatigue.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT PAST ANNUAL MEETINGS
In the early years, Vito Perrone organized the meetings and they took basic shape under his leadership — arising out of his choices of who to bring together and the opening talk he gave each year. In the last several years, the group has generated the planning. Vito was the Dean of the School of Education at the University of North Dakota, where it first met. Hence the name.
The group meets annually, every President’s Day weekend. For the past few years, the group has been meeting in selected locations around the country for the purposes of place-based education.
The tone is serious, intense — we often address a particular text or question — and yet informal. The network of friendships and professional connections is strong and growing stronger each year for those who attend regularly. Through the years many participants have collaborated on work outside NDSG, and many have built lasting friendships and working partnerships. During the conference home groups welcome and create a place for newcomers, often, young teachers.
The meetings began in the early 70’s with about a handful of attendees, then grew to about 30 when the group met at Wingspread in Wisconsin. Now, well over 100 people attend. Not only the size changed, but the composition of the group. Classroom teachers were few until the early 80’s, when invited teacher panels became a feature each year. Until the early 80’s, the group was primarily White. The group challenges itself with continued efforts to deepen understanding of race and ethnicity and to solidify the connections with attendees of color. Those who participate currently include new teachers, veteran teachers, university professors, community activists, independent scholars, undergraduates, deans, foundation program officers, and principals. Shared rooms (optional) and cafeteria-style meals add to the experience of informal mixing.
Planning and logistics for each year’s meeting are done entirely by a committee of volunteers. In mid-summer the Planning Committee convenes and reviews the previous meeting and plans the next conference. The summer meeting is open to anyone who wants to attend who has participated in past general NDSG meetings. Those summer plans are refined over e-mail and via conference calls right up until the February meeting, often shifting to accommodate last-minute changes and new opportunities. Three co-chairs, who revolve through three-year terms, lead this work. A ‘nitty-gritty’ committee works to ensure the logistical details including the website and online registration system, while other volunteers work on the scholarships we provide to enhance diversity and other conference needs.