We obtained permission to reprint in our blog series a letter written by Rae Paris. The letter was originally published in blackspaceblog.com. Rae Paris addresses the historic and recent events of police brutality. It has been signed by over 1,000 Black professors around the world.

Photo caption: Black students and professors, Beaumont Tower, Michigan State University, December 6, 2014.

The citation for the original publication is:

Paris, Rae. (December 8, 2014). An Open Letter of Love to Black Students: #BlackLivesMatter. Retrieved from http://blackspaceblog.com/2014/12/08/an-open-letter-of-love-to-black-students-blacklivesmatter/

Rae Paris is from Carson, California. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in The Common, Guernica, Dismantle, Solstice, and other journals. Her work has been supported by the NEA Literature Fellowship, and residencies from Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the Hambidge Center, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Hedgebrook, and VONA. Her poem “The Forgetting Tree” was selected as Best of the Net 2013, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart. She teaches fiction at the Bread Loaf School of English, and lives and writes mostly in East Lansing, Michigan where she’s Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Michigan State University. 

We are Black professors.

We are daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, godchildren, grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, and mothers.

We’re writing to tell you we see you and hear you. Read more

 Nonie K. Lesaux is the Thompson  Professor of Education and Society at the  Harvard Graduate School of Education and  leads a research program guided by the  goal of increasing opportunities to learn for  students from diverse linguistic, cultural,  and economic backgrounds.  Lesaux’s  research and teaching focus primarily on  the cognitive and linguistic factors that  enable children and adolescents to read effectively.  Her research has included longitudinal studies investigating reading and language development among English language learners as well as experimental evaluations of academic vocabulary instruction.  She is currently a Principal Investigator of a longitudinal study investigating the interrelated dimensions of linguistically diverse children’s cognitive, socio-emotional, and literacy development. Her research on reading development and instruction, and her work focused on using data to prevent reading difficulties, informs setting-level interventions, as well as public policy at the national and state level. The practical applications of this work are featured in several publications written for education leaders and practitioners, including one book and one widely circulated state-level literacy report, the latter of which forms the basis for a Third Grade Reading Proficiency bill passed in the state’s House of Representatives.  Lesaux’s scholarship has resulted in two prestigious early career awards—the William T. Grant Foundation Faculty Scholars Award and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the U.S. Government.

It was inevitable that Janette and I would cross paths, as two scholars deeply committed to increasing opportunities-to-learn for children whose home language(s) include languages other than English–a population of children commonly referred to as English learners (ELs).  But I was even luckier than that.  I had the privilege of collaborating with Janette on some key projects.  Most recently, our work together revolved around an instructional approach that holds great promise for improving outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse students and reducing their disproportionate representation in special education: The Response to Intervention (RtI) model.   Together, Janette and I designed guidance, resources, and professional development modules to support educators as they shifted their instruction and assessment practices to fit this approach, using RtI as a platform for increasing learning outcomes for ELs.  We first tried this out with a large group of educator teams in the New York City schools and then wrote up some of this work for wider dissemination. I hold these memories dear, and am still engaged in initiatives to support the implementation of RtI in linguistically diverse settings, continuing to cultivate the progress toward equity that Janette championed.

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Rebeca Burciaga is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and a member of the Core Faculty for the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in the Connie L. Lurie College of Education at San José State University. Dr. Burciaga’s research centers on understanding and challenging educational practices and structures that (re)produce social inequalities for historically marginalized communities, including/specifically Latino students.  Her research in schools and communities spans over 20 years and includes mixed-methods research on pathways from preschool to the professoriate, the experiences of students who leave high school before graduation, and the ways in which geographic regions structure inequalities. She specializes the study of qualitative research methodologies including testimonio and ethnography. Her current research and teaching is focused on cultivating asset-based mindsets in teachers and administrators that work with youth of color.  Dr. Burciaga is a co-founder and co-coordinator of the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz, a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California at Los Angeles.  Her research has been supported and recognized by the Spencer Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Institute of Health, and the American Association of University Women. Her most recent scholarship can be found in Equity & Excellence in Education, the Association of Mexican American Educators Journal, and the Educational Administration Quarterly.

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Adai Tefera’s research focuses on improving educational policies for diverse learners with dis/abilities. She is particularly interested in understanding the socio-historical, political, and cultural dimensions that shape policies and impact learning. A second strand of her research focuses on knowledge mobilization, an emerging field that aims to increase the impact and use of research by utilizing interactive strategies that target wide audiences, including educators, policy makers, community organizers, parents, and students. She is specifically interested in knowledge mobilization efforts that advance equity in education.

Taucia Gonzalez is a doctoral candidate at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University in the Curriculum and Instruction program with a concentration in special education. She is interested in expanding literacy practices for language minority students with learning disabilities. More specifically, her work examines how Latina/o language minority students engage in literacy across in- and out-of-school contexts.

Cueponcaxochitl’s research draws on decolonial and socio-cultural theories to examine Ancestral Computing for environmental, economic and social sustainability. Ancestral Computing for sustainability is an ecosystems approach to solving complex problems by interweaving Ancestral Knowledge Systems and computer science. She is a Xicana scholar activist who applies the interdisciplinary frameworks, coloniality of power and figured worlds, to analyze identity formations and civic engagement across learning environments (formal and informal). Her research informs various areas of work such as foundations, teacher preparation programs, curriculum studies and policy in computer science education.

Sarah Alvarado Díaz is a research assistant for Equity Alliance and a first-year doctoral student in the Learning, Literacies and Technologies program, with a special interest in students who are labeled as English language learners, as students who receive special education services, and in particular, looking at disproportionate numbers of English language learners being referred for special education services or being placed in special education programs.  Prior to coming to ASU as a full-time student she worked as an elementary school teacher in a South Phoenix school for sixteen years, where she worked with first through third grade students, and many years as a dual language teacher, in English and Spanish.  

This blog is written from the perspective of our four voices combined. You will see that the lines between our stories are blurred. Our combined experiences in policy and teaching in diverse settings is weaved into the voice of one person with four intersectional paths of theory and practice. Read more

 photo 6ad2eb24-cf56-4188-a860-8a2a7686f1c2.jpgWe obtained permission to reprint in our blog series an interview conducted by The American Educational Research Association’s Educational Change Special Interest Group (SIG). The interview was originally published in the SIG’s “Lead the Change Series: Q&A with Angela Valenzuela”. Angela Valenzuela speaks to our theme “Re(imagining) a Civil Rights Agenda in Educational Policy.” The citation for the original publication is:

American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group. (2014, September 1). Lead The Change Series: Q&A with Angela Valenzuela. Issue 42. Retrieved September 16, 2014, from http://www.aera.net/Portals/38/docs/SIGs/SIG155/42_Angela Valenzuela.pdf

Angela Valenzuela is a professor in Educational Policy and Planning at the University of Texas and holds a courtesy appointment in the Cultural Studies in Education Program within the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She serves as the director of the University of Texas Center for Education Policy and more recently as the new director of the National Latino Education Research Agenda Project. Her research and teaching interests are in the sociology of education, minority youth in schools, educational policy, and urban education reform. She is the author of Subtractive Schooling: U.S. Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring and Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas- style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth. Angela served as co-editor of the Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, as well as the Anthropology and Education Quarterly. She also founded and operates an education blog titled “Educational Equity, Politics, and Policy in Texas.” She can be reached at (valenz@austin.utexas.edu).

The 2015 American Educational Research Association (AERA) theme is “Toward Justice: Culture, Language, and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis”. What are key accomplishments, limitations, and possibilities of education research to advance justice? Read more

H. Richard Milner IV is the Helen Faison Endowed Chair of Urban Education, Professor of Education, Professor of Social Work (by courtesy), and Professor of Africana Studies (by courtesy) as well as Director of the Center for Urban Education at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a policy fellow of the National Education Policy Center. His research, teaching and policy interests concern urban education, teacher education, African American literature, and the sociology of education. In particular, Professor Milner’s research examines practices that support teachers for success in urban schools. Professor Milner’s work has appeared in numerous journals, and he has published five books. His book, published in 2010 by Harvard Education Press, is: Start where you are but don’t stay there: Understanding diversity, opportunity gaps, and teaching in today’s classrooms http://hepg.org/hep/book/129/StartWhereYouAreButDonTStayThere, which represents years of research and development effort. Currently, he is Editor-in-chief of Urban Education and co-editor of the Handbook of Urban Education http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415634779/with Kofi Lomotey, published with Routledge Press in 2014. He can be reached at rmilner@pitt.edu.

Years ago, I provided a workshop with educators in an elementary school – educators, principals, and a small number of counselors.  I was invited to focus – in particular – on the role of poverty in education and to provide instructional strategies for educators that would assist them in better meeting the needs of students whose needs are grossly under-met in schools.  These students tend to be students of color (namely Black and Brown), those living in poverty, those whose first language is not English, and those whose first language is not English.  Although analyses of achievement gap patterns, graduate rates, enrollment in gifted and advanced courses, office and special education referral, and participation in school-wide clubs and activities demonstrate how Black and Brown children’s needs, in particular, in too many instances are not being met, my attempt to shepherd the educators in the workshop into real conversations about race, the salience and persistence of racism, and inequity was resisted.  Moreover, educators in the session wanted me to tell them exactly what to do with “those” children, who are very different than the children the educators taught in the past and “certainly” different from the times when the educators themselves were students.  I quickly learned my job was to focus on poverty exclusively and to tell those in attendance exactly what to do to raise their students’ test scores.

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Glenn Adams is Associate Professor of Psychology, Director of the Cultural Psychology Research Group, and Faculty Associate Director of the Kansas African Studies Center at the University of Kansas. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone before completing his Ph.D. in Social Psychology at Stanford University. His graduate training included two years of field research in Ghana, which provided the empirical foundation for his research on cultural-psychological foundations of relationship. His current work builds on this foundation in an attempt to decolonize knowledge production in psychological science and to articulate models of human development that promote sustainable ways of being and social justice for broader humanity. An enduring interest is development of a globally relevant psychology. Drawing on the theoretical perspective of cultural psychology, one sense of “globally relevant psychology” is a more position-conscious science that not only transcends the cultural imperialism of mainstream psychology, but also illuminates the socio-historical foundations of mind. Drawing upon the theoretical perspective of liberation psychology, another sense of “globally relevant psychology” refers to a science that addresses the concerns of humanity in general—how to maintain a peaceful, secure and viable existence in the context of uncertainty, economic and political violence and material scarcity—rather than the more self-indulgent concerns of a highly particular subset of people in situations of unprecedented material abundance. 

If you did a survey of Americans and asked them about the extent of racism in American society, then you would likely find that White respondents perceive far less racism than do people from the “Other” ethnic/racial groups that European settlers have historically dominated. Alternatively stated, White folks are more likely than peoples they have historically dominated to believe that American society and its mainstream institutions are colorblind or race-neutral. What accounts for this difference?

For one thing, research suggests that White folks believe in the colorblind neutrality of American society because they are motivated to deny the extent of racism. The idea that American society and mainstream institutions harbor elements of racism is threatening to the American ideology of “liberty and justice for all” that students recite daily when pledging allegiance to the flag. Many White folks (including myself) would rather not think that the institutions from which we disproportionately benefit are racist, so we interpret ambiguous events in a way that allows us to avoid such troubling thoughts.

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Erica Frankenberg (Ed.D., Harvard University) is an assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies in the College of Education at the Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests focus on racial desegregation and inequality in K-12 schools, and the connections between school segregation and other metropolitan policies. She has published four books, dozens of articles in education policy journals, law reviews, housing journals, and practitioner publications, and has been involved in several desegregation cases as an expert witness.  Her work has also been cited in recent Supreme Court decisions about race-conscious policies in education.

Prior to joining the Penn State faculty, she was the Research and Policy Director for the Initiative on School Integration at the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA.  One aspect of her work has examined how districts respond to the Supreme Court’s 2007 voluntary integration decision. This on-going research examines how school districts define diversity and what policies they adopt to pursue diversity. Dr. Frankenberg is the co-editor of Integrating schools in a changing society: New policies and legal options for a multiracial generation (with Elizabeth DeBray), from the University of North Carolina Press. 

Dr. Frankenberg recently completed a study of suburban racial change examining the extent to which suburban districts are becoming more diverse, how they conceptualize of this change, and what responses districts and communities adopt. A book from the Harvard Education Press in Fall 2012 co-edited with Gary Orfield, The Resegregation of Suburban Schools: A Hidden Crisis in American Education, is the first publication from this project. 

Finally, Dr. Frankenberg’s research has examined how the design of school choice policy affects racial and economic student stratification. This has included examining the segregation trends in charter schools as well as analyzing state and federal policy to understand why such patterns of segregation exist in charter schools. She has co-authored (with Gary Orfield) a book on this topic, Educational Delusions? Why Choice Can Deepen Inequality and How to Make it Fair (from University of California Press). 

On May 15, the Civil Rights Project released a study that I co-authored with Gary Orfield about the extent of school segregation 60 years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision the U.S. Supreme Court issued on May 17, 1954. Our analysis of data from public schools across the country has several noteworthy findings. Today, the country’s public school enrollment is more diverse than ever. In the two largest regions the South and the West, in fact, white students no longer comprise a majority of the enrollment. In the South, traditionally home to most black students and where black students remain the most desegregated despite sharp declines, Latinos are larger than blacks. We find that black and Latino students across most regions have rising segregation, including substantial segregation in suburban areas.  Although traditionally not a focus of most segregation discussions, white students too are segregated: white students attend schools with higher percentages of same-race peers than of any other race (nearly three-quarters of students, on average). Finally, schools with high concentrations of black & Latino students strongly overlap with concentrated poverty. Read more

Mercedes K. Schneider, Ph.D., has been teaching full time for 19 years.  She attended Louisiana State and graduated with a B.S. in secondary education, English and German (1991).  Dr. Schneider taught for two years in Louisiana, then moved to Georgia, where she taught German (1993-94) and English (1994-98).  While teaching, Mercedes Schneider earned her M.Ed. in guidance and counseling from West Georgia (1998).

In August 2002, she graduated from Northern Colorado with a Ph.D. in applied statistics and research methods. Dr. Schneider then taught graduate-level statistics and research courses at Ball State University (Muncie, IN), except for one undergraduate course: Tests and Measurement.  In this course, Dr. Schneider addressed issues related to No Child Left Behind and taught students “how bad an idea it was to attempt to measure teacher performance using student standardized test scores.” In July 2007, Dr. Schneider returned to Louisiana to teach high school English in St. Tammany Parish. Since January 2013, she has been blogging about education reform issues at deutsch29.wordpress.com and also for @thechalkface and Huffington Post. Dr. Schneider has a book, A Chronicle of Echoes  addressing key individuals and organizations promoting corporate reform with Information Age Publishing that recently been released.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Corporate reform is fond of euphemisms, of catchy names to disguise the truth of what amounts to the deliberate defunding of American public education in favor of the widespread, under-regulated corporate raiding of public dollars in exchange for “top-down-controlled,” often-substandard education “options.”

This is what self-styled education reformers call “school choice.”

Today, one of the most common ways for “choice” to manifest itself in a school system is via charter schools and vouchers.  In this post, I will briefly focus on the unfolding of these two concepts in Louisiana. Read more

Tracy Lachica Buenavista is an Associate Professor in the Department of Asian American Studies and a core faculty member in the doctoral program in Educational Leadership at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). In her research she uses critical race theory to examine the ways that migration, militarization, and education intersect to shape the academic trajectories for Asian Americans, particularly U.S. Pilipina/os.  She has published articles on U.S. Pilipina/o college access and retention, undocumented Asian student experiences, and the militarization of immigration reform in various journals including AAPI Nexus, Amerasia, and Asian American Policy Review. 

She has also contributed to several book projects focused on Asian American and Pilipina/o American educational experiences, and co-edited with her colleagues, Navigating the Great Recession: Immigrant Families’ Stories of Resilience. She is a Research Fellow with the Asian American and Pacific Islander Research Coalition (ARC) and is involved with the Research on the Education of Asian and Pacific Americans (REAPA) Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Buenavista received her Ph.D. in Education at the University of California, Los Angeles and M.A. in Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. 

As a professor in Asian American Studies and Education, I regularly teach courses that guide students to think through issues of race, equity and social justice.  I have noticed a trend that reoccurs in my classrooms, regardless of the course: the exclusion of Asian Americans, including those who are U.S.-born and particularly those who are international students.  I commonly rely on small group discussion in class and while such a method often facilitates collaborative learning, in many cases Asian American students literally sit on the outside of the discussion circles formed by their classmates and are prompted to join only when I intervene.  The hesitancy for both white students and students of color to work with their Asian American peers is expressed by the body language and aversion to eye contact that physically signal to Asian American students that they are not welcome to the circle, largely based on reciprocal misperceptions that there will be difficulties in communication.  The interactions are awkward, uncomfortable, and laden with racial presumptions of Asian American students.  For example, quite frequently white students and students of color accuse Asian Americans of being too shy or unwilling to participate, without taking responsibility for their part in the inability for critical cross-racial interaction to occur or recognizing the structural factors that shape such behaviors.

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