On October 17, Debbie Almontaser, the founding principal of the nation’s first public school with a focus on the study of Arab language and culture, delivered the 18th Annual Rose Sheinberg Lecture. In a talk entitled “Arab Culture and Islam: Challenges in Diversity Education,” Almontaser emphasized how her personal experience as an educator and interfaith activist has demonstrated the importance of challenging bigotry within the school system.
The ultimate goal, Almontaser said, is for schools to teach children to become “empowered, independent thinkers who are able to work with cultures beyond their own.”
Donna Nevel, coordinator of the Participatory Action Research Center for Education Organizing (PARCEO) that operates in partnership with the Educational Leadership Program at NYU Steinhardt, introduced the lecture, praising Almontaser for her unwavering commitment to justice in the education system. “She is committed to challenging our two-tiered system of education that privileges some at the expense of others, and to ensuring that all our children receive the education they deserve,” Nevel said.