Kate T. Anderson is an Assistant Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. After receiving her PhD in Sociolinguistics at The University of Georgia, Dr. Anderson worked at the Learning Sciences Lab at Singapore’s National Institute of Education where she was PI on a 3-year study designing and facilitating digital storytelling workshops for youth in- and out-of-school who were marginalized by the educational system. Her research draws from discourse analysis, ethnography, and other qualitative methods to examine the role of ideologies in constructing everyday notions of social difference with regard to ability, race, language learning, and other social categories and labels.
Ideologies–the taken-for-granted beliefs about how things supposedly are (e.g., Woolard & Schieffelin, 1984)–often form the basis of judgments about others. Consider what counts as ability and how we measure it, or who is seen to speak “good” English and what we imagine them to look and sound like. From ways of talking to behavior in the classroom, value-laden assumptions come to bear on how we see and label others. In fact, these cultural assumptions and beliefs can seem more real than what people actually do or say. In my research I’ve looked at how ideologies about language and learning shape notions of what counts in specific educational contexts and to consider how it got to be that way. One way to understand how we label types of learners or speakers and what those labels mean in a given sociocultural context is to focus on particulars, or stories, in our research. To help ground this point, I’ll first share a bit about my own research and then discuss the role of stories-as-evidence in educational research concerned with equity. Read more
Through personal and research experience, I know that immigrant parents want to be a part of their children’s education. For them, access to a good education is one of the main reasons immigrants stay in the U.S. Consider, then, the irony that it is sometimes the lack of access to knowledge of how the USian school system works that stands between parents and being able to effectively advocate for their children in schools.
My mother emigrated from Perú to the U.S. when she was 35 to go to graduate school. Though she had class privilege, race privilege (she is considered white), a graduate degree and an American husband, when she started to have trouble with me in school, she was at a loss. We had just moved from Bolivia when I entered the USian school system. She was concerned with my English language skills (was I proficient enough?), but also knew that my first grade education in Bolivia had been more advanced than what the first grade in rural-suburban Florida could offer me. However, due to historic misunderstandings of how race, ethnicity, and history combine in places other than the U.S., school officials placed me back in the first grade and denied me language testing. This marked the beginning of my mother’s “education” in the USian school system. Read more
Meg Grigal, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts, Boston where she Co-Directs Think College and serves as the Co-Principal Investigator for two national grants: the Administration on Developmental Disabilities funded Consortium for Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and the Office of Postsecondary Education National Coordinating Center for the Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) Model Demonstration Programs. Dr. Grigal currently conducts research and provides evaluation and technical assistance on exemplary practices for supporting students with disabilities in the community, employment, and postsecondary settings. She has co-authored two books on college options for students with intellectual disabilities and has conducted and published research in the areas of postsecondary education options, transition planning, families, self-determination, inclusion, and the use of person-centered planning techniques.
Debra Hart is the Director of Education and Transition at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has over 30 years of experience working with youth with disabilities, their families, faculty, and professionals that support youth in becoming valued members of their community via participation in inclusive secondary and postsecondary education and integrated competitive employment. Currently, she is the Principal Investigator for two national postsecondary education grants. The National Coordinating Center is conducting an evaluation of 27 model postsecondary education initiatives to better understand their policies and practices in different postsecondary education options and their impact on student outcomes. The National Consortium on Postsecondary Education provides training and technical assistance to enhance existing postsecondary education initiatives and to grow the choice of a higher education for youth with intellectual disability nationwide.
Recently, my mother mentioned that my grandmother and my great-grandmother never drove a car. “Really? Why not?” I asked. She replied, “Well it just wasn’t done.” In those days, no one expected a woman to drive a car.
This got me thinking about the reactions we received from people when we first started working on creating college options for people with intellectual disabilities (ID). The most common response was confusion and disbelief: “People with intellectual disabilities do not go to college. It just isn’t done.”
Why is this?
Anthony1 who self-identifies as a DREAMer2 grew up and attended school in the Phoenix metro area. He has been married for seven years. Although he was born in Mexico, beyond family stories, he has little memory of his parents’ homeland since he moved to the U.S. as a child. Anthony is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to enroll in college, but in the meanwhile he proudly cares for his 18 month old daughter and a niece and nephew full time.
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
Dr. Adai Tefera is a postdoctoral scholar at the Equity Alliance at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Adai’s research focuses on the consequences of education policy on culturally and linguistically diverse students, particularly those labeled with dis/abilities. Before joining the Equity Alliance, Adai worked as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Education Policy Research at the University of New Mexico, and served as a fellow with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in the office of Congressman Chaka Fattah. As a graduate student at UCLA, she worked with the Civil Rights Project/Civiles Derechos Proyecto, and spent a number of years working with GEAR UP as a tutor, mentor, and researcher. Adai earned her Ph.D. in Urban Schooling and Masters degree in Public Policy from UCLA. Her dissertation focused on the consequences of high stakes exit exams on students of color with dis/abilities. She received her B.S. in Political Science with a minor in Ethnic Studies from Santa Clara University.
With continued awe at the potential of a second term, I watched the President’s inauguration on January 21, 2013. Fittingly, the day coincided on the same day of our nation’s observance and celebration of an inspired leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Eagerly awaiting the President’s speech on that Monday morning, I was struck by the delicate weaving of words from the Declaration of Independence and our “inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” While I recognize the rights referenced in the Declaration of Independence were not originally intended to be bestowed upon us all, including me – a Black daughter of Ethiopian immigrants – I must confess I have always found the making of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence intriguing. Unquestioningly imperfect, the President reminded us of our responsibility not just to invoke words from the Constitution but also to embody them. For if “We are true to our creed,” he said, “when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.” It is not enough for us to resign to the belief that we are equal but it becomes incumbent that our actions reflect this value. He continued, “Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.” While our children – urban, rural, and suburban – have these inalienable rights we know they are far from being actualized. Read more
Liz King is Legislative Director for Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-Pa). She has worked in this office since 2005, prior to which she taught middle school in Philadelphia with Teach For America for two years. In her current role she coordinates the Congressman’s legislative agenda and advises him on education, health and social policy. She is passionately committed to improving access and outcomes in education and to ensuring that all students’ potential is realized. She is especially excited about the changing American demographics and the potential to bring new thinking and new thinkers to old problems. Believing that there should always be a strong link between practice and policy, Liz volunteers as a one-on-one tutor and as a classroom volunteer. She holds a BA in Government and Religion from Wesleyan University and an MS in Elementary Education from St. Joseph’s University.
In 2002, when President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) into law, it became official policy of the United States government that all students attending public schools (with the exception of students with the most significant disAbilities) meet grade level standards by the year 2014. For the first time, the basic expectation most parents of middle class, White, typically abled children have of their neighborhood school now applied to all classrooms, schools and districts without adjusting for race, income, first language, or IEP. I believe that this is the most important step towards real equity for all students at the federal level since the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case desegregated schools in 1954. Read more
Maryellen Daston, Ph.D., has a background in biomedical research and technical writing. As a researcher, she specialized in developmental neuroscience. But when she started working for Project SEARCH®, her focus shifted from cells in a dish to the development of the whole person. As part of the Project SEARCH team, Maryellen is responsible for editing and writing content for the Project SEARCH web site, articles for professional journals, grant proposals, and other communications—including the recently published book, High School Transition that Works: Lessons Learned from Project SEARCH (Brookes Publishing Co.).
Erin Riehle, M.S.N., is a recognized authority and national leader in promoting employment opportunities for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. She is a founder and Senior Director of Project SEARCH, an employment and transition program that has received national recognition for innovative practices. When she started Project SEARCH, Erin was a nurse manager at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Her motivation was to offer people with disabilities (who made up a significant portion of the hospital’s patient volume) the same opportunities for training and employment that were available to everyone else. She brought a business perspective to the field of disability education, as well as an ability to bring organizations together for a shared purpose.
Susie Rutkowski, M.Ed., is the Co-Director and Educational Specialist for Project SEARCH. She is a nationally recognized transition expert with specific experience in program development in career technical education and job development for young adults with disabilities. She served as the Manager for Disability Education at Great Oaks Career Campuses for over 12 years. During that tenure she, along with Erin Riehle, cofounded Project SEARCH. Susie has been instrumental in designing the Project SEARCH Training Institute modules and leading replication efforts for new Project SEARCH sites. She speaks and writes on transition-related topics.
“Rachel” was born with Down syndrome. As she approached the transition from high school to adult life, she and her family were faced with many hard questions and difficult decisions about what her next steps should be. Rachel wasn’t able to read, write, or count to 10, so it was not clear to those close to her how she would achieve any level of independence or become a contributing member of her community.
The hope for most typically abled high school graduates is that they will find gainful employment, or go on to college or other post-secondary training that will ultimately lead to a good job. When a young person becomes employed, they get the obvious advantage of improved financial circumstances. But even more importantly, they also benefit from the fulfillment, maturity, and sense of belonging that comes with meaningful work. Unfortunately, young people like Rachel with intellectual and developmental disabilities encounter more than the usual obstacles in getting to this significant milestone. The result is chronically high levels of unemployment for this population throughout their lives. For example, in 2008, the employment rate was 39.1% for people with disabilities and of working age (18–64 years), as compared with 77.7% employment for people within the same age group but without disabilities 1. From year to year, the size of this gap remains roughly the same, regardless of the state of the economy.
Graciela Slesaransky-Poe, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Arcadia University. Her work is centered on supporting educators and families in transforming schools into places where children and adults feel welcomed, valued, and included. Her teaching, writing, and advocacy is grounded in the recognition that the differences and gifts that each student, family, and educator offers enriches their school fabric, and that mindful, purposeful, and that intentional opportunities for celebration, reflection, and action could greatly strengthen the school culture and climate. Dr. Slesaransky-Poe is the mom of two children, one of whom is a gender non-conforming boy. Informed by her extensive national and international professional expertise in inclusive practices coupled with her personal experiences raising a culturally and linguistically diverse family, Dr. Slesaransky-Poe is becoming a prominent local, regional, and national expert on creating welcoming, inclusive, and safe schools, for gender non-conforming, transgender, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning/queer students, families, and educators.
Dr. Slesaransky-Poe is the recipient of several awards and recognitions including the 2011 Patricia C. Creegan award on Excellence on Inclusive Practices.
For more than two decades, I have been building partnerships with families and schools creating successful inclusion environments for students with a variety of disabilities and diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In the past eight years, I have expanded the circle of inclusion to create welcoming schools for students who are gender nonconforming or transgender.
This area of inquiry and service felt like a natural extension of my work, and grew out of my experiences parenting my children. When my now 11 year-old son was three, he displayed a strong interest in toys, clothes, and activities typically associated with girls. He used a “blankie” pretending to have long hair and enjoyed playing with the many princess costumes his sister had, though rarely played with. His sister was interested in building things and playing sports, and not so much in princess dress-up and Barbie dolls. She was what we call a “tomboy.” I was a tomboy as a child, and so were my mother and my mother-in-law. My daughter’s interests and behaviors felt very familiar, comfortable, and natural to all of us. Read more
Helen Anderson is the Manager of Curriculum and Research at Harmony Movement, a not-for-profit organization that delivers educational programming on equity and inclusion to youth, educators, and social service providers, empowering them to become leaders of social change. Helen completed her Ph.D. in Theory and Policy Studies in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, focusing in her research on social justice and anti-racism education. She has taught at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University and has worked with numerous community service organizations to address issues such as racism, food security, gender-based violence, youth violence, and homophobia.
What is it that stands in the way of truly empowering educational experiences? Fear. Fear of who we could be and fear of who we are. Fear that others will misjudge us. Fear that their judgments will be correct. Fear of losing power. Although fear may make school equity movements feel slow and fruitless, hope can remind us of the powerful tools we have at our disposal that make a difference in youths’ lives.
At a time when educational equity is clouded with fear, I look for hope. I found that hope recently at a conference on education that transformed the way I think about teaching and learning. The Lost Lyrics Symposium, was a conference focused on creating an education system from the ground up, guided by the needs and input of young people, parents/guardians, and community members. It highlighted the need to address the disconnect between the lived realities of many students and their experiences of school. Read more