Equity

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.

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Mei-Ling Malone teaches Education and Criminal Justice courses at Los Angeles Southwest College. She received her masters and doctorate degree from UCLA in Urban Education.  Her dissertation, “Over-Incarcerated & Undereducated: The Impact of California’s Prison Proliferation on Los Angeles Urban Schools” examined the role of the prison industry on segregated schools.   She is a firm believer in providing education that is accessible, critical, empowering and transformative and believes in the power of the people to work for love, wellness, self-determination and self-liberation.

 

Imagine-

It’s a Friday morning and you’re feeling positive and looking forward to the weekend as you walk into your staff meeting and settle down next to your favorite coworker.  Your boss starts talking when suddenly a group of police officers storm in shouting with dogs.  A large dog startles you by jumping onto your lap sniffing.  The officers yell at everyone to stand up and leave the room at once.  Scared and frazzled you walk outside and watch the intimidating armed officers go through your personal belongings from the window.  After making a mess of the staff room and taking your favorite fragrance bottle that was stashed in your bag and a few other personal items from your co-workers, the police leave without apologizing.  The whole event feels hostile, degrading and confusing.  You also feel violated, disrespected and angry.   To add to your growing frustration, your boss pretends like nothing happened and then continues the meeting business as usual.  This of course sends you the message that you deserved the police invasion and that it was perfectly normal.

This slightly modified scenario came directly from listening to a student talk about her experiences at an urban high school in South Los Angeles.  While the situation I just described was only imaginary for you and would be considered unacceptable, unjust treatment for most, this type of experience is very real and all too common for working class black and Latino youth at school.  In fact, this same student also told me about other incidences in which she was treated like a criminal at school.  She shared of a time when she and others were pepper sprayed on campus as they walked to class and of another time when police raided her locker.  While researching the school-to-prison pipeline I heard these stories and more through my student interviews. Read more

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Catherine Kramarczuk Voulgarides is a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology of Education program at New York University (NYU). She was a graduate assistant at the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at NYU under the leadership of Dr. Pedro Noguera. She now works at the Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality in Special Education at the center. Before joining the Metro center, she worked for the AmeriCorps Vista project in Phoenix, Arizona, coordinating and developing ESL programs for recent immigrant parents in the Phoenix school system. She holds a BA in economics and is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She also holds a MST in Special Education from Pace University in New York City and taught middle school special education for several years in Washington Heights NYC. Her research interests are centered on the intersection between the impact of federal disability legislation and the persistence of racial and ethnic disproportionality. More specifically she is interested in understanding the complexities associated with a policy’s origins, its intent and mediation in practice as it responds to local context, especially when a disparate impact is identified.

It was a typical school day in my research and I was observing an in school suspension room when an African American boy, about seventeen years old, entered and immediately sat at a desk and began writing. The teacher in the room appeared to know him well and asked him what he was working on. The boy said he was writing about what he would say if he became valedictorian. The teacher, seemingly intrigued, asked him to explain his thoughts. “I want to go to college. I mean I only have three options: college, jail or the army.  It’s true, you can ask anyone. These are our only options. You would be surprised by how many kids would say the same. This school is nasty like that.” 

Upon closer inspection of the student’s assignment the teacher realized he was working on an essay for the online credit recovery program designed for suspended students. With the realization the teacher said, “You better get that work done because people are calling the online program a criminal program!” The boy quickly responded with, “I’m not a criminal.” The teacher continued, “Well, people think the program is harboring criminals.” “I ain’t no criminal!” the boy interrupted.  He then returned to his assignment visibly distraught.

Why did he only see three options for himself and his peers: college, jail or the army? And why was he defending himself against the perception that he was a potential criminal? More broadly, what messages are we intentionally or unintentionally telling students about their worth in school and how do these messages intersect with school discipline structures? Read more

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Wayne E. Wright, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he directs the Teaching English as a Second Language Program and teaches courses related to ELL teaching, literacy, assessment, policy, and research. A former bilingual, ESL, and SEI teacher in southern California, Wright received his PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Arizona State University in 2004. His dissertation on the intersection of federal and state policies for ELLs in Arizona was awarded 1st place in the Outstanding Dissertation competition of the National Association for Bilingual Education. Wright is author of the widely used textbook Foundations for Teaching English Language Learners: Research, Theory, Policy, and Practice (Caslon, 2010) and numerous published articles in leading academic journals and books on policy and practices in language minority education. He is co-editor of the forthcoming Handbook of Bilingual and Multilingual Education (Wiley-Blackwell).

March 29, 2013 was a disappointing day for those who care about the education of English language learners (ELLs). Judge Collins of the Federal District Court for the District of Arizona issued a new ruling in the case Flores v. Arizona—a 21-year old lawsuit originally filed in 1992. This new decision overturned (vacated) the Court’s January 2000 ruling that the State’s programs for ELLs were a violation of the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) because funding of ELL programs was “arbitrary and capricious,” and inadequate to address students’ needs. While the case is specific to Arizona, the implications are nationwide.

Despite this recent defeat, great credit is due to attorney Timothy M. Hogan, Executive Director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. For over 2 decades Hogan and the Flores decision have been a thorn in the side of the Arizona legislature and Department of Education, forcing policymakers to acknowledge and address the needs of ELLs. The original decision led to the Flores Consent Decree in August 2000 in which the state outlined concrete steps to address issues of ELL program inadequacy and monitoring. It also led to some increases in state funding for ELLs, though never to an acceptable level.

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María C. Ledesma is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy at the University of Utah’s College of Education. A first generation college student, Dr. Ledesma earned her Ph.D. in education from the University of California, Los Angeles. As a doctoral student Dr. Ledesma was selected to sit as the 32nd Student Regent for the University of California, the first Latina to hold this post. She has previous experience as an undergraduate admissions reader for her undergraduate alma mater, UC Berkeley, and sat as the graduate student representative for the University of California’s faculty senate committee on undergraduate admissions—The Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools. Her research interests include critical policy analysis; examining the intersections of diversity, discourse, and doctrine through the analysis of legal texts; and contextualizing and historicizing affirmative action.

Discussions around affirmative action are emotionally charged. Though not everyone is familiar with affirmative action’s complex history, everyone seems to have an opinion about its future. Proponents stress that no proxy can ever replace the consideration of race in university admissions. By contrast, opponents of affirmative action are quick to proclaim that we have arrived into a “post-racial” era, where race no longer matters in college admissions or elsewhere. Often critics of affirmative action call upon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech to underscore this point. They argue that any continuance of race-conscious policies directly contradicts and undermines Dr. King’s dream, where children are “not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

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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

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Lucía Isabel Stavig is a PhD student in Justice Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on the intersection of representation, immigration, and citizenship among undocumented mothers in Arizona. She received her B.A. from New College of Florida with a concentration in Sociology and Latin American Studies. Her undergraduate thesis was on representations of indigeneity in the global human rights discourse and its effects on NGO projects on the ground in Chiapas, Mexico. Lucía is the proud daughter of a Peruvian immigrant mother and a working-class American father—both of whose worlds have been under and/or unjustly represented in public and academic discourses—which has inspired her to look and listen from the margins inward.

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[1] 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

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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?

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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.


I have no recollection of being brought to the United States; after all I was a 4-year-old child. Growing up I had the good fortune of being raised in an environment that never forced me to think about citizenship in terms of documentation and social security numbers.  I attended elementary schools where children of different races learned and played together, and in my mind we were all citizens.  I never recall knowing or wondering about anyone’s documentation status or who was an American.  In my mind we were all American and we all had dreams.

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  1. For the privacy and protection of this bog contributor a pseudonym has been used []
  2. The immigrants that are commonly referred to as “DREAMers” are undocumented youth that were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 who meet the general requirements of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. []

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[1] children and their education. Read more

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