Educational equity

Melanie Bertrand is an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University in Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, and served as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Southern California. Her research employs micro- and macro-level lenses to explore the potential of student voice to challenge systemic racism in education.

(Photo Credit: Deanna Alejandra Dent)

“The claim we found is that students don’t have access to culturally relevant textbooks. I feel that if textbooks will have stories about my culture, I’ll feel more engaged with the class.” Alma, Latina high school student

Alma[1] made this statement to an engrossed audience at an educational conference in 2011. She and other Students of Color were presenting research findings from a study they implemented on access to educational resources—like textbooks and technology—at their urban high schools. After Alma left the podium, another student spoke about the surveys and interviews the group conducted to arrive at the claim, showing a PowerPoint slide with the following quotes from high school students:

“The only thing the history book mentions about Black culture is slavery.”

“The history I know is about White culture; I don’t know [anything] about my culture!” Read more

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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

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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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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

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With me in her womb, my mother crossed the U.S.-Mexican border in the trunk of a car to unite with my father and brother in the U.S. This family history and life beginning set the tone for my schooling journey as a Xicana scholar activist. I declared a Math major during my first year at Pomona College, but when I realized that I was one of the only women in my first math class, and most yet, of Mexican ancestry, I shifted my area of focus to the history and policy of education for Mexican Americans. In the process, I nurtured my own identity and re-awakened my voice in a land scarce of cultural diversity. I began to learn more about my heritage and ground my voice through the perspective of my family, hence my research interests.  As a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, I examine computer science education, from a sustainable perspective informed by indigenous peoples. I ask: How may ancestral knowledge systems inform the study of computer science? How might the melding of ancestral knowledge and computer science education lead to new understandings of how to nurture our young people’s positive identity formations and critical consciousness around computer science explorations? Responses to these questions have significant implications for promoting social and environmentally sustainable approaches to living, learning and dying. As digital media inextricably influences our lives, my work disrupts the common assumption that computer science alone could be a solution to most any complex problem in society. I received my Doctoral Degree in Urban Schooling from the University of California Los Angeles, where I conducted research on culturally responsive computer science education with the support of the National Science Foundation. I am the recipient of a grant awarded to a team of educational activists to “Mobilize Ancestral Knowledge, Computer Science and Student Inquiry for Health in the Schooling Community of El Sereno,” funded by UCLA Center X. I have published with Psychnology, Learning, Media and Technology, ACM Inroads, Power and Education, Theory, Culture and Society and SAGE Reference Publications. I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, river tubing and biking with my four-legged companion, Canela.

I had never seen my Pa cry more tears of joy than the day my parents surprised us with our first PC. With a combined annual income of $20,000 for a family of five, my Mexican immigrant parents sacrificed so much to give us the best chance at an academically successful future. Shooting stars darted above us with excitement as we unpacked the computer system from the back of my father’s 1978 Chevy truck. My older brother took the lead in setting up the mysterious digital box. We all watched as he wrote the first command on the MS-DOS screen. Fast-forward two decades. My brother is a computing professional. Somewhere along the way, my sister and I developed the fear of breaking the computer if we were to punch in the wrong code or click on the wrong application, so we resorted to word processing, practicing our typing skills and playing solitaire.

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