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.

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, 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 Kofi Lomotey, published with Routledge Press in 2014. He can be reached at

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.

Read more

Mike RoseMike Rose is on the faculty of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and the author of Possible Lives: The Promise of Public Education in America, The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker, and his latest book Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education. Visit his website and blog at

This blog was originally published four during the last presidential election.  Four years later his words still resonate.

As the 2008 election moves center stage, I would like us to pause and ask ourselves the big question. Why do we as a nation yearly engage in the hugely expensive and culturally monumental ritual of sending children to school?
During most of my time in school, my father was seriously ill, and my mother worked two shifts to keep us afloat. I was a disconnected and dreamy child, vaguely fearful of our circumstances, full of longing but without much direction. There’s a lot of kids out there like me. And they need all that school can provide.

From everything we hear, it’s to prepare the next generation for the economy, and that preparation is measured through scores on standardized tests. This has been the primary justification for education for a generation. But our children are more than economic beings, and learning and development cannot be reduced to a few test scores. Education turned my life around, so I come at this issue in a very personal way. I long to hear more in our national discussion about the powerful effect education can have on young people’s lives.

Read more

Cean Richard Colcord is a doctoral student pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Special Education. He is also a university teaching and research assistant and a current special education teacher in the Isaac school district. He received concurrent Bachelor’s degrees in special education and human communication and a Master’s degree in educational technology from Arizona State University. His research examines the use of educational technology in special education and the ways in which it can be used to improve access, adequacy, and equity in special education. He is also interested in the stories and voices of children with disabilities, the shielded identities of children with disabilities in online classrooms, school-wide positive behavior supports, and pre-service special education teacher preparation. Mr. Colcord was selected as the 2011-2012 Robert Rutherford Fellow in Special Education and is a member of the American Educational Research Association, Council for Exceptional Children, and the Arizona Technology in Education Alliance. In 2011, Mr. Colcord was selected as a Rodel Exemplary Teacher for his record of extraordinary student achievement in high-poverty schools.

One night around 3:00 am, I woke up to what appeared to be a flashlight beaming in through my bedroom window.  I laid silently as thoughts began floating to consciousness trying to make sense of the light, when I heard our backdoor creaking under the force of something prying at it.  As a twelve year old boy living with my mother, stepfather, and my brother in a under resourced neighborhood in downtown Phoenix I suddenly understood someone was trying to break into our apartment.

I ran quietly into the living room where my parents were sleeping.  I placed my mouth close to my stepfather’s ear and in a rush whispered, “Someone’s trying to break in.”  He jumped up and went toward the back door, and I trailed behind him.  Together we chased the burglar away.  A dark shadow disappeared into the night.

I returned to bed and laid there with my heart beating quickly as my thoughts worked through what had just happened.  My thoughts and my heart beat eventually slowed down as sleep began creeping back over my body, when I suddenly heard a loud POP.

I sat up, looked at my brother, and I fell off the bed onto the floor. Through a fog I recall my stepfather running into my room and him and my brother repeatedly trying to pick me back up. Read more

Clare Okyere is currently the Teacher on Assignment at Herrera School for the Fine Arts and Dual Language, prior to which she served as a fifth grade teacher in the same school for five years.  During the past few years Clare oversaw the Teacher Assistance Team at her school to ensure teachers were supported and well informed in implementing the Response to Intervention framework to better meet the needs of all students.  Clare was recently selected as a grant recipient for a fully funded Master’s program based on her leadership skills in her school district.  She began her coursework this summer in Educational Administration & Supervision in ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.  In addition to her work and studies Clare is also a co-founder of Twenty-Nine Eleven Productions, a publishing company through which Clare has served as a book editor and more recently published her first children’s book Bluebird, Bluebird.  While Clare’s roles have shifted over the past few years, her commitment to serving all students with high standards remains constant.


I was recently asked a simple enough question, What is the role of the teacher?  Initially, I thought, That’s easy enough. That’s who I am. It’s at my core. Of course I can answer that question.

But then, I started reflecting, like teachers are prone to do, and that seemingly simple question became much more complex. My role was constantly changing through my experiences as a teacher.  For instance, when I was still in college the role of the teacher meant we focused on pedagogy—how to teach the children.  I was prepared to go into my first job and rise to the challenge of teaching students to use inquiry to learn the secrets of simple machines, to use questioning to create mathematical conjectures, and to facilitate literature studies that would allow children to “read the world.”   When I became a full time teacher the reality of a classroom context dramatically stretched my understanding of my role.  My focus on pedagogy was not enough to meet the demands of teaching.  Thirty students with different life histories, cultures, languages, educational strengths and struggles, family dynamics, reading levels, attendance patterns, socioeconomics, and more entered the classroom.  In order to meet their needs I had to reconsider my role.

In fact, give me a multiple choice question, and I’d probably think my way into getting it wrong.

Question: What is the role of the teacher?

  • Choice A would be something like, “Facilitator of knowledge.” That’s true.
  • Choice B – “Advocate.” Yep.
  • Choice C – “Counselor.” Yes, each and every day.
  • And finally, the ever famous D, “All of the above.”

Read more

David Isaac Hernandez-Saca is a third year doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Special Education Leadership for School-Wide Equity and Access at Arizona State University. His bachelor of arts (BA) and master of arts (MA) in education degrees are from the University of California, at Berkeley. His undergraduate major was in race-relations in U.S. history and a minor in education with a concentration in equity and participatory research. His MA in education was in the field of language, literacy, culture, and society studies (LLCS). During his MA program of study he focused on problematizing the construct of Learning Disabilities (LD). Before receiving his MA he had the privilege of working at an independent private school in northern California for students who were labeled with Learning Disabilities, Emotional Behavioral Disorders, and Autism in the public school system.  He provided educational programs from homeschooling to individualized instruction. He was there for 2 years and was both an interim director and multi-subject teacher for grades 8-12.   Hernandez-Saca’s current research interests include the emotional and social impact of learning disability (LD) identification on identity and human development as it relates to equity issues in (special) education and current movements for inclusive education. Although he is interested in historically marginalized and culturally and linguistically diverse students an emerging population of interest is Latino(a) students with learning disabilities.


I remember the first day I arrived at Manzanita School in the Bay Area.  What immediately stood out to me was the small “one-room schoolhouse” feel that made me feel like I was stepping into an early 20th century schoolhouse rather than a present day alternative school in a bustling area.  I entered the school greeted by the starkness of a classroom adorned with white walls and white curtains hanging on both sides of the two windows in this one room.  Eight tables with two chairs each sat in neat rows forming an aisle down the middle of the room, ending at the headmaster’s desk.  Little did I know that that headmaster’s desk would be mine for nearly two years after I entered that summer morning.

Read more

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.

Read more

Cynthia Mruczek Cynthia has a passion for teaching and working with school leaders and teachers as they address issues of equity in schools. As the Assistant Director of NIUSI-LeadScape, she works closely with principals and teachers to engage in professional learning that leads to making schools inclusive of all students. Cynthia worked as a teacher in elementary and middle schools in Phoenix for thirteen years before deciding to continue her learning at Arizona State University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy.

I stumbled upon an amazing opportunity a few months ago. One that I’m sure many teachers wish would present itself at some point after their career in the classroom is over. I was sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office when a young woman approached me slowly and said, “Excuse me, but is your name Ms. M?” I was startled at first, mainly because in my current position at the Equity Alliance, Ms. M isn’t typically how I’m addressed. As soon as I made eye contact with this young woman, I recognized the fifth grader in her. Granted, she looked very different, but her eyes were the same. I responded, “Yes, I’m Ms. M. Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry, but I can’t remember your name. I know it starts with a C!” (I also remembered that she was a fantastic writer. Those of you who are teachers may be familiar with the strange phenomenon where you remember weird bits of detail about past students.) She smiled and reminded me that her name is Carolynn. Carolynn had been a student in my fifth grade classroom in 2001 (a more significant detail that I’ll share later.) We talked a few more minutes and exchanged phone numbers, as well as a promise of getting together for coffee in the next few weeks. Later, I marveled at the fact that 1) I remembered her, 2) SHE remembered ME, and 3) perhaps most importantly, I’d get the opportunity to sit with a former student and talk about her life then and now. This conversation solidified for me what being “culturally responsive” is all about. Read more

Cynthia Mruczek Cynthia has a passion for teaching and working with school leaders and teachers as they address issues of equity in schools. As the Assistant Director of NIUSI-LeadScape, she works closely with principals and teachers to engage in professional learning that leads to making schools inclusive of all students. Cynthia worked as a teacher in elementary and middle schools in Phoenix for thirteen years before deciding to continue her learning at Arizona State University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy.

Recently, I’ve taken on new endeavors that have opened my eyes to things I haven’t noticed before…namely the power and privilege that is associated with being a white person and the marginalization I sometimes experience as a lesbian. I grew up as a relatively privileged person and I still am in many ways. I come from a middle class home, with both parents as career professionals who possess graduate degrees. Thinking back on my childhood, I can’t even remember a time that I felt marginalized. Even as a tomboy who would rather play touch-football than have to even LOOK at Barbies, I rarely felt like I didn’t fit in. Maybe I was just oblivious, but this indicates to me that privilege was certainly present in my life. You don’t think about privilege when you have it, only when you don’t. Read more