Social justice

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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Adai Tefera’s research focuses on improving educational policies for diverse learners with dis/abilities. She is particularly interested in understanding the socio-historical, political, and cultural dimensions that shape policies and impact learning. A second strand of her research focuses on knowledge mobilization, an emerging field that aims to increase the impact and use of research by utilizing interactive strategies that target wide audiences, including educators, policy makers, community organizers, parents, and students. She is specifically interested in knowledge mobilization efforts that advance equity in education.

Taucia Gonzalez is a doctoral candidate at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University in the Curriculum and Instruction program with a concentration in special education. She is interested in expanding literacy practices for language minority students with learning disabilities. More specifically, her work examines how Latina/o language minority students engage in literacy across in- and out-of-school contexts.

Cueponcaxochitl’s research draws on decolonial and socio-cultural theories to examine Ancestral Computing for environmental, economic and social sustainability. Ancestral Computing for sustainability is an ecosystems approach to solving complex problems by interweaving Ancestral Knowledge Systems and computer science. She is a Xicana scholar activist who applies the interdisciplinary frameworks, coloniality of power and figured worlds, to analyze identity formations and civic engagement across learning environments (formal and informal). Her research informs various areas of work such as foundations, teacher preparation programs, curriculum studies and policy in computer science education.

Sarah Alvarado Díaz is a research assistant for Equity Alliance and a first-year doctoral student in the Learning, Literacies and Technologies program, with a special interest in students who are labeled as English language learners, as students who receive special education services, and in particular, looking at disproportionate numbers of English language learners being referred for special education services or being placed in special education programs.  Prior to coming to ASU as a full-time student she worked as an elementary school teacher in a South Phoenix school for sixteen years, where she worked with first through third grade students, and many years as a dual language teacher, in English and Spanish.  

This blog is written from the perspective of our four voices combined. You will see that the lines between our stories are blurred. Our combined experiences in policy and teaching in diverse settings is weaved into the voice of one person with four intersectional paths of theory and practice. Read more

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 photo 6ad2eb24-cf56-4188-a860-8a2a7686f1c2.jpgWe obtained permission to reprint in our blog series an interview conducted by The American Educational Research Association’s Educational Change Special Interest Group (SIG). The interview was originally published in the SIG’s “Lead the Change Series: Q&A with Angela Valenzuela”. Angela Valenzuela speaks to our theme “Re(imagining) a Civil Rights Agenda in Educational Policy.” The citation for the original publication is:

American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group. (2014, September 1). Lead The Change Series: Q&A with Angela Valenzuela. Issue 42. Retrieved September 16, 2014, from http://www.aera.net/Portals/38/docs/SIGs/SIG155/42_Angela Valenzuela.pdf

Angela Valenzuela is a professor in Educational Policy and Planning at the University of Texas and holds a courtesy appointment in the Cultural Studies in Education Program within the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She serves as the director of the University of Texas Center for Education Policy and more recently as the new director of the National Latino Education Research Agenda Project. Her research and teaching interests are in the sociology of education, minority youth in schools, educational policy, and urban education reform. She is the author of Subtractive Schooling: U.S. Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring and Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas- style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth. Angela served as co-editor of the Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, as well as the Anthropology and Education Quarterly. She also founded and operates an education blog titled “Educational Equity, Politics, and Policy in Texas.” She can be reached at (valenz@austin.utexas.edu).

The 2015 American Educational Research Association (AERA) theme is “Toward Justice: Culture, Language, and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis”. What are key accomplishments, limitations, and possibilities of education research to advance justice? Read more

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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 http://hepg.org/hep/book/129/StartWhereYouAreButDonTStayThere, 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 http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415634779/with Kofi Lomotey, published with Routledge Press in 2014. He can be reached at rmilner@pitt.edu.

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.

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Rita Kohli is an Assistant Professor in the Connie L. Lurie College of Education at San José State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, with an emphasis in Race and Ethnic Studies. Her research interests include Critical Race Theory in Education, racial hierarchies in schools, teachers of color, and improving the educational realities of students of color. A former middle school teacher, and current teacher educator, Dr. Kohli has 15 years of experience working in urban public schools. She is the co-founder and co-director of the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice, and currently serves as program chair for the Critical Educators for Social Justice Special Interest Group for the American Educational Research Association. She has published in journals such as Race, Ethnicity and Education, Education, Equity and Excellence and Teacher Education Quarterly.

When I was a teacher in Oakland, California, I worked at a school that was primarily African American, but also had over ten languages spoken within the student population.  At a school that diverse, it is hard to imagine that, as a South Asian American woman, I was one of the only teachers on campus who was not white or black.  The teaching staff was incredibly segregated, and at lunch, faculty would watch if I sat at a “white” or “black” table.  I even had a co-worker ask me one day if I thought of myself as “white or black?” and was quite shocked when I said neither.  A culminating moment for me was at a staff breakfast the day before we went on winter break one year.  The principal passed around black and white Styrofoam Santa ornaments as a holiday gift, and as the box made its way towards me, the teachers next to me whispered, “which one is she going to take?”  I ended up taking a black Santa, but as an Indian and a Hindu, it was clear to me that my identity, culture and religion were invisible to the broader staff. Read more

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