2004-10-29 / Columnists

Chatting with Chapey

Dr. Geraldine Chapey
Dr. Geraldine Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader

Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey and Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey chaired panels at the American Conference on Irish Studies Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference at Princeton University on the weekend of October 22 – 23, 2004.

The Princeton University campus is an ideal setting for a conference. The main sessions were held at East Pyne which is located between the Firestone Library and Nassau Hall. There was a reception and exhibit of Irish holdings in the Rare Book Gallery in the Firestone Library.

The conference had as its keynote speaker Fintan O’Toole who spoke on “After the Ball: Ireland, Culture and Globalization”. This presentation was timely and informative. In addition, there was a special showing of the film – “Shellshock Rock” and a public interview with Terry Byrne.

This conference added a special feature – a roundtable panel on “De-Provincializing Irish Studies”. The panelists were Karl Bottigheimer, Kathleen Davis, Augustin Lao-Montes, Lynn Hollen Lees, Gauri Viswanathan and Michael Wood. The presentations were stimulating. It generated a very positive response from the attendees.

The panel chaired by Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey was on “Public Discourse: Ireland and America”.

There were three panelists: Dr. Brian Cogan from Molloy College spoke on “The Irish American Press as an Agent of Change: The Transformation of the New York Irish from an Oral to a Literate Culture 1850-1880; Dr. Janet Nolan from Loyola University of Chicago spoke on “Servants of the Poor: Teachers and Mobility in Ireland and Irish America; Dr. Kathleen Gough from the University of California at Berkeley spoke on “Acoustic Shadows and Silent Battles: Women, Citizenship and Split Affinities in Northern Ireland and the Southern United States: I chaired a panel on Transnationalism. The three panelists were: Dr. Don McNamara from Bucks County Community College spoke on “Canal Fever: Irish Workers on the Delaware and Raritan Canal.” Dr. Jessica Scarlata from New York University spoke on “Washed Away: Representatives of Forced Labor in Postcolonial Ireland and Australia;” and Dr. Patrick F. McDevitt from the University of Buffalo, SUNY spoke on Ireland, Latin America and Atlantic Liberation Theology.

Participants in the conference came from throughout the United States, Ireland, London, Germany, Canada and as far away as China. Many prestigious universities were represented including Oxford, Harvard, Trinity College and the University of Macau in China.

The conference included a variety of panels: New Work on Lady Gregory; Anxieties and the Irish Novel; Ireland and Empire; Kavanagh, Macniece and Heaney; Telling Stories and the Story of Irish Drama; Yeats and Myth; Irish Sensibilities in Wartime, From the South Africa War to World War II; Ireland and Fantasies of Anglo-American Popular Culture; Visual and Musical Culture; The State and Irish Nationalism; Caribbean and Irish Transatlantic Discourse; Moore, Matura, Markham; Ireland, Orientalism and Solidarity; Centennials Observed and Centennials Overlooked; Irish Language Literature and Art in 1904 and 2004; Writing and Politics in Early Modern Ireland; Beyond the Cannon; Remembering Mid Century Writers; and Tourists and Troubles: Ireland for Consumption:

On October 18, 2004 I attended a forum where Rod Paige, the United States Secretary of Education, presented a report on President Bush’s comprehensive educational reform plan called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) at the Cultural Center on Flatlands Avenue in Brooklyn. The object of this act is to strengthen the federal role in education to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and minority students and their peers. NCLB embodies four principles: stronger accountability reports on results, expanded flexibility and greater local control, expanded options and choices for parents and an emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work.

Two of the most meaningful and at times debatable options for parents whose children are trapped in failing schools are: Public School choice: Parents whose children are in failing schools may be allowed to transfer their child to a better performing public school; Supplemental Services: Federal Title I funds may be used to provide tutoring, After School and Summer School programs.

This is the most sweeping reform of the Title I Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) since it was enacted in 1965. It redefines the federal role in K-12 education to help improve the academic achievement of all American students. New York is one of only five states (Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Kentucky) that have met or are on track to meet all 40 of the NCLB requirements.

Kudos to Jate and Sandy Doremus on the 100 Precinct Council breakfast at the Beach Club. I congratulate the community affairs officers who were celebrated at the breakfast – Pete and Kenny.

My mother, Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey and I attended the formal opening of the Peninsula Charter School in Far Rockaway. This new school is providing a wonderful opportunity for children to develop their own talents and grow physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially.

The event was attended by Chancellor Joel Klein; Commissioner of Banking for NYC, Diane Taylor; Dr. Kathleen Cashin, Regional Superintendent District 5; Michelle Lloyd Bey, Superintendent of District 27; Rev Congressman Floyd Flake; Senator Malcolm Smith and numerous other dignitaries.

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