U.Va. to Host Workshop on Right to Education for Local Refugee and Migrant Children

November 17, 2011 — Several University of Virginia organizations will host a daylong workshop exploring the right to education for immigrants, refugees and the children of undocumented migrants in local schools on Nov. 19 at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Building, 112 Clarke Court in Charlottesville.

Sponsored by the School of Law‘s Human Rights Program, the Curry School of Education and the U.Va. Women’s Center, the workshop will convene students, parents, advocates, social service providers, lawyers and educators to discuss the successes and challenges of ensuring the right to education in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Members of the public are welcome, and lunch will be provided to those who RSVP in advance to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This workshop follows an interdisciplinary U.Va. seminar on “Global Poverty, Inequality and Human Rights in Education” and a related international symposium that were co-sponsored last fall by the Law and Curry schools. Saturday’s event, which runs from 8:30 a.m. t3:30 p.m. (schedule below), encourages the participation of attendees to develop joint strategies and initiatives that will promote quality learning experiences for all children. 

Workshop sessions will include stories and documentary films developed by local migrant students and their families, and presentations by teachers, social service agencies, legal advocates and community-based immigrant and refugee organizations. The event will focus on understanding and advocating for rights in education, discussing opportunities to learn through culturally responsive curriculum and addressing equity for all students. Workshop participants will review a preliminary report on the successes and challenges in education for migrant children in Charlottesville and create action items for interested parties to carry out.

Carol Anne Spreen“State and national education laws guarantee the right to basic education of refugees and asylum-seekers. Yet many refugee and migrant families in the United States do not send their children to school,” workshop organizer Carol Anne Spreen, a Curry professor, said. “The vast majority who do enroll their children in school are unaware that they have specific rights to and in education.

“Through strong partnerships, we can develop strategies for leveraging resources and commitments to address these issues locally, as well as the means and methods to hold the government and other responsible parties accountable for violations of the right to education.”

Spreen said the workshop will build on recent, collaborative research conducted by teams of undergraduate, graduate and law students who investigated social and legal services and education-related advocacy for immigrant and migrant children.


Workshop participants will examine the barriers to education and violations of the right to education for immigrants, refugees and migrants in local schools; discuss current and pending issues of Virginia education policy and practice related to this issue; and foster education rights awareness among migrant communities, social movements and those accountable for ensuring the provision of education.

Spreen said she hopes the workshop will result in a report and advocacy guide – including a comprehensive literature review – on the right to education of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Charlottesville, contextualized through international and regional treaties and conventions, in addition to national legal and educational policies relevant to education rights.

The workshop’s other goals include collecting data from local and state education departments on the enrollment, status and outcomes of education rights for immigrant/refugee/undocumented migrants in Virginia; descriptions of site visits involving interviews, collection of testimonies and case studies of communities/services in the Charlottesville area; and developing working groups on specific topics and issues addressing concerns and challenges identified by migrant communities, partners and key stakeholders on the right to education for migrants.

NBC29 Coverage


Symposium schedule
Saturday, Nov. 19
Jefferson Scholars Building (112 Clarke Court)

• 8:30-9 a.m. Video, Registration and Breakfast: “This Is My Story”

• 9-9:15 a.m. Welcome and Introduction.
Carol Anne Spreen, Curry School of Education

• 9:15-10:15 a.m. Journeys to the Classroom/Student and Family Stories
Gloria Rockhold, Charlottesville Catholic School, Office of Community Outreach; Ana Lopez, Patricia Morales and Julio Cesar Pedroza, Monticello High School; Tina Vasquez, English as a Second Language teacher, Albemarle High School; representative from Charlottesville High School

• 10:15-10:30 a.m. Table Introductions and Question Round-up

• 10:30-10:45 a.m. Break

• 10:45-11:30 a.m. Why Are Rights Important?
Deena Hurwitz, School of Law  
What Does Virginia Law Say About Education Rights?
Andy Block, School of Law
Q & A

• 11:30-noon. Results from the Case Studies (U.Va. seminar, fall 2010)
Chrissie Monaghan, Ph.D. candidate, Curry School; Emma Murphy, Class of 2012, College of Arts & Sciences; Julie Roa, M.A. education, Curry School

• Noon-1 p.m. Working Lunch with Facilitated Questions
Groups will address report findings/additional legal issues/successful initiatives

• 12:45-1 p.m. Processing Questions (compile and discuss issues from each group)

• 1-1:45 p.m. Education for All (advocating for migrant students in the classroom)
Laura Brown, Trisha Moya, Tina Vasquez, ESL teachers, Charlottesville Catholic School and Albemarle County

• 1:45-2:15 p.m. Working with Migrant Communities
Harriett Kurr and Mirna Dickey, International Rescue Committee; Martha Trujillo, Creciendo Juntos; Gloria Rockhold, Community Outreach, Charlottesville Catholic School

• 2:15-2:30 p.m. What Is the Right to Education? What Does a Rights-Respecting School Look Like? 
Carol Anne Spreen, Curry School of Education

• 2:30-3 p.m. Planning for a Rights-Respecting Community
Each table will develop one action item and identify a point person for this initiative.

• 3-3:30 p.m. Wrap-Up
Report to the audience the small-group findings and action items

# # #

Reporters: For information, contact Carol Anne Spreen of U.Va.‘s Curry School of Education at 434-249-4343 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); or Deena Hurwitz of U.Va.‘s School of Law at 434-962-7170 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).