Ananda Marin is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University. She earned her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences from the School of Education & Social Policy at Northwestern. She has over a decade of experience working with families and students in community centers, museums, and community colleges. She served as Assistant Dean of Student Services at Harry S. Truman College where she worked closely with the Office of Instruction on classroom redesign projects and retention efforts. At the Chicago Children’s Museum she participated in the exhibit development process and co-facilitated a supplemental reading program with partner schools. Her current research focuses on the intersections between culture, development, orientations to the natural world, and science teaching and learning. In her dissertation she examined the relationship between attention, mobility, and learning about the natural world. She is currently engaged in a collaborative research project between the American Indian Center of Chicago, the Menominee Language and Culture Commission, Northwestern University, and the University of Washington. This community-based design research project aims to create science learning environments based on youth and families’ community practices. As a project member, she has served as a researcher, curriculum designer, and teacher.
Diversity in the sciences is essential if we are to address issues related to the use and distribution of natural resources in innovative and equitable ways. Today, conversations around environmental sustainability, food sovereignty, and climate change are prevalent in many Indigenous communities. For Indigenous peoples meeting the challenges posed by climate change is directly related to participation in the sciences among tribal members and descendants. However, American Indian and Alaska Natives are under-represented in the sciences. Educators and researchers have generated multiple theories to explain this under-representation, including the high rates at which Native students drop out of high school, limited mentorship opportunities, and limited post-baccalaureate funding [i]. While these explanations are informative and point us towards possible solutions, I have come to see success in the sciences through a different framework. Since 2005, I have participated in a community-based design research project. This collaborative project engaged community members and university researchers from the American Indian Center of Chicago, the Menominee Nation, Northwestern University, and the University of Washington in the design of culturally-based science programming. This work has taken a different approach to Indigenous representation in the sciences and asked how epistemologies, or ways of knowing, embedded in instructional environments and materials may impact achievement and ultimately career paths in the sciences among Native students [ii]. Read more
Dr. Cecilia Rios-Aguilar is an Associate Professor of Education at the School of Educational Studies. Dr. Rios-Aguilar’s research is multidisciplinary and uses a variety of conceptual frameworks—funds of knowledge and the forms of capital—and of statistical approaches—regression analysis, multilevel models, structural equation modeling, GIS, and social network analysis—to study the educational and occupational trajectories of under-represented minorities, including Latina/os, English learners, low-income, and immigrant and second-generation students. Most recently, Dr. Rios-Aguilar and her colleague Dr. Regina Deil-Amen, received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct the first study to assess how community colleges adopt and use social media technology for strategic purposes.
In 2008, William Tate (past president of AERA) used maps to describe the geography of opportunity in two metropolitan regions of the United States that were engaged in efforts to transform their local political economies. His maps helped visualize that urban centers consisted largely of census blocks where residents bachelor’s degree attainment was much lower compared to places where biotechnology centers were strategically located. This finding (combined with other spatial patterns he found) strongly suggested that an uneven geography of opportunity was present in these regions. Tate, then, urged educators and scholars to think more critically about the way geography affects educational and occupational opportunities, particularly those of under-represented students (and their families and communities).
Tate’s findings and logic have extended to various locations and to many different social and educational outcomes. For example, using census data, scholars have created maps to show that low-performing schools, non-prestigious colleges and universities, and low-income and immigrant families are all concentrated in specific areas usually characterized as “deprived”, “undesirable”, or “not-so-hot” places.
Rosa M. Jiménez is an Assistant Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests include critical and culturally relevant pedagogies, social studies education, and immigration. She examines the education, alienation, and empowerment of working class students of color, with a focus on Latina/o immigrant students. Dr. Jiménez interrogates how educators can affirm, access and sustain Latina/o students’ everyday cultural practices, experiential knowledge, and family histories. Dr. Jiménez has over ten years of experience working in K-12 public schools as a social studies teacher, literacy coach and educational researcher.
For decades Latinas/os have been called ‘the sleeping giant’ because of their dormant collective political and economic promise. We saw a glimpse of this promise during the 2012 November elections as 71% of Latina/o voters helped re-elect President Obama, signaling to many that the giant had awakened (Pew Hispanic Research Center). The Republican Party was stunned and began to take notice of Latina/o political power. These events come on the heels of a nearly three-year firestorm of (post SB 1070) anti-immigrant legislation, racially hostile public discourse, record-breaking deportations and family separations, an unprecedented Executive Order granting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and the historic civic action, protests, and mobilization of immigrant rights groups. In turn, these events have prompted a renewed national focus on immigration with the possibility of bi-partisan legislation on ‘comprehensive’ immigration reform. The national debate and possible ensuing policies are intrinsically linked to how educators think of Latina/o immigrant children and their education. Read more
Kim Anderson is the author of Culturally Considerate School Counseling: Helping Without Bias (2010), co-author of Creating Culturally Considerate Schools: Educating Without Bias (2012), both published by Corwin Press and a contributor to How to Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You: Culturally Relevant Teaching Strategies, 2nd Edition (2012) and The Biracial and Multiracial Student Experience: A Journey to Racial Literacy (2008) by Dr. Bonnie M. Davis.
Ms. Anderson presents her eclectic work at numerous local, regional and national events and venues, engaging her audience through compelling narrative, careful research, evocative experiences, and instructive storytelling. She is currently working on a book based upon one of her clinical workshops entitled, Hour by Hour: Wholistic Practice in Clinical Social Work.
On December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut came under siege. Not unlike the Columbine, Colorado shooters some thirteen years earlier, the only definitive truths we seem to know about Adam Lanza are that he was young, computer knowledgeable, and dressed in dissident fashion as he used automatic weapons to kill innocent and seemingly random children and adults. Like the school assassins who preceded him, Lanza was immediately labeled an outsider, mentally ill, and antisocial. His mother, also dead from bullets allegedly propelled by her own son, likewise was vilified. These are horrible, graphic images and hideous notions with which we are left.
My diverse vocations and avocations (mental health professional, educational consultant, artist, writer, and life-long learner) prompt me to view this event holistically. Our minds, bodies, psyches and spirits have all been assaulted by this historic trauma. I recognize that we are trying to solve this particular problem when, collectively, we cannot think very clearly. Our bodies shudder in empathy for the victims. Our psyches attempt to integrate how we feel and what we know by our fervent attempt to understand. In short, we attempt to make sense of the senseless. Read more
Timothy San Pedro is a PhD Candidate in English Education at Arizona State University, where he has conducted three years of ethnographic research in a Native American Literature classroom in a state that has banned ethnic studies programs in public schools. He taught Alaska Native High School students for the Cook Inlet Tribal Council and grew up on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana. He is a Ford Fellow; a Gates Millennium Scholar, mentor, and regional director; and a Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color Fellow. San Pedro’s research interests include Native American Urban Education and socio-culturally sustaining pedagogies.
As I enter the Native American Literature classroom that I am conducting research in, I see many faces, hear many stories, and engage in many conversations. On this particular day, I overhear a conversation Eileen has with another classmate. She says to her friend: “If you cut us in half and put us together, you’d have two complete people.” Eileen is referring to her and her friend’s ethnic makeup; they are both half Navajo and half African American.
Although a joke between two friends, I know what it feels like to want to be fully something, rather than on the margins of two or more cultural or ethnic identities. I want to reach out to both of them at this point and say, “It can get quite confusing. Take me, for example. I’m half Filipino, half Caucasian, yet I grew up on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Since my family left my father, I have had zero contact with my Filipino culture and have been embraced by the Native American community around me. Where does that leave me? Who does that make me? Where do I fit, if anywhere?” Those conversations centered on identity may come later with Eileen. For now, I just give them a smile.
Lisa Tolentino is a doctoral student pursuing a Media Arts and Sciences PhD through the School of Arts, Media and Engineering (AME) at Arizona State University. She works in the Embodied and Mediated Learning Group, working closely with high school special education teachers, designers, artists and researchers to develop digitally mediated environments to support social interaction, exploration, community and creativity in learning for students with autism.
I believe the key to activating the lives of students with disabilities is not about changing who they are; rather, it is in changing how we listen to them. So let’s begin with a short listening exercise. If you are at our near a kitchen, perform the following steps before reading the blog. If not, feel free to skip ahead.
An Exercise in Listening: 5 steps in 15 minutes.
Sonia Nieto is Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she taught for 25 years. Before that, she was a junior high and elementary school teacher. She has written widely on issues of multicultural education and on the education of students of diverse backgrounds, and she has written numerous books, journal articles, and book chapters on these topics.
Sometimes as soon as I step foot in a school, I can tell of its commitment, or lack of commitment, to affirming the diversity of their students. Some things are obvious, of course: posters, bulletin boards, the nature of the books in the library, the diversity of the staff, and the language or languages displayed in the school – not only whether the home language or languages of your students are visible, but also the tone of signs in the building such as “Visitors must go to Principal’s Office,” versus “Welcome to our school! Please stop by the Principal’s Office to let us know you’re here.” Other things are less obvious: whether there is a consistent and committed outreach to all families; the curriculum and how it actually unfolds in the classroom; and whether or not students’ identities are truly accepted and honored.
Paul C. Gorski is an assistant professor in New Century College, George Mason University. Gorski’s work and passion is social justice activism. His areas of scholarly focus include anti-poverty activism and education, critical race theory and anti-racism education, and critical theories pertaining to women’s rights, LGBT rights, labor rights, immigrant rights, and anti-imperialism. Gorski is an active consultant and speaker, working with community and educational organizations around the world—such as in Colombia, Australia, India, and Mexico—on equity and social justice concerns. Gorski founded EdChange, a coalition of educators and activists who develop free social justice resources for educators and activists.
In my view, the challenge of educational inequity is not, as many assume, that too few people care about creating learning environments that work for all students. The challenge, despite an overwhelming desire among most teachers and administrators to serve the needs of all students, is that we generally have very little understanding of the depth and complexity of the problem.
Consider, for example, the monster we commonly refer to as the “achievement gap”. I use this example because a vast majority of education equity attention today is focused on this “gap” as measured in standardized test score comparisons. Over many decades, even before today’s term for it was coined, school leaders have attempted myriad strategies for redressing “achievement gaps” among and between students across race, language, class, and other identities. But we’ve made so little progress. Why?
You might be wondering who thought it would be a good idea to hold an Equity Forum in Arizona in 2011? We’ve asked ourselves that same question.
Elaine Mulligan is the Assistant Director of NIUSI-LeadScape, a federally-funded technical assistance project that supports principals of inclusive schools. Her responsibilities include designing and delivering professional learning, coordinating LeadScape’s online resources, and coaching principals to support their transformation of school cultures and practices.
In working with educators through our various projects, I hear a lot of different viewpoints on Response to Intervention (RTI). Many states are encouraging districts to focus on RTI approaches in an effort to improve state assessment outcomes for groups that have historically not scored well on these tests (e.g., students with disabilities, English language learners, students in particular racial/ethnic groups). Districts are implementing mandatory professional development and support teams, and schools are rechanneling instructional supports and redesigning schedules to support intervention processes. There is a lot of activity and attention around RTI, from preschool through high school. Some educators consider RTI a great success and report great improvements in student achievement, while others see it as a series of bureaucratic hoops to jump through that impede student support processes. Which is it?