Teacher education

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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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

Laura Atkinson is a research associate in the School of Social Transform at Arizona State University (ASU) and a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction-Special Education. Laura is currently serving as the coordinator of the Urban Professional Learning Schools Initiative (UPLSI) Master’s program. She spent over a decade teaching general education and special education before receiving her MA in special education (with a focus on Learning Disabilities) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Laura served as the Director of an $8.5 million dollar grant at Mississippi State University (ACHIEVE Mississippi). She has also served as a lecturer in curriculum and instruction at ASU where she has taught undergraduate and graduate level classes in regular and special education. Additionally, Laura coordinated an accelerated, immersion teacher certification program and supervised student teachers. Her research interests include pre-service teacher education, professional development for teachers, culturally responsive pedagogy, and professional learning schools.


Recently I was walking with a colleague of mine on campus as a group of students passed us by. “Laura, is that you?” One of the students, a tall, handsome African American man, was looking at me.   I studied this unfamiliar man and behind the mature face, trousers, and tie, I recognized the young undergraduate I had taught nearly a decade earlier. Tim had been in my reading methods class and I had supervised him during his student teaching experience.

As Tim and I spent a few minutes catching up on highlights from the past seven years I asked him what he was doing on campus.  “I’m working on my Master’s in Educational Leadership. I want to become a principal.”  Tim’s still sheepish smile radiated pride as he looked down at me, revealing the young man I had known so well years earlier. I remembered that even then Tim stood out for his natural leadership abilities.  I couldn’t help but joining him in that sense of pride, wondering if I could have played a small role in his desire to continue higher education.   

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JoEtta Gonzales

As the Director of the Equity Alliance at ASU, JoEtta designs and delivers individualized, comprehensive, and systemic support for school districts in the form of leadership training, collaboration, coaching and capacity building.  With a blend of humor, sensitivity, and professional insight, she uses her passion and first-hand experience to help individuals develop  and use an equity lens for decision-making related to student achievement.  A talented speaker and workshop leader, she has worked with school systems across the United States in addressing issues of equity.

Dear School District,

Sending my daughter off to school for the first time will be a bittersweet experience.  I should be good at this by now, right? I’ve seen her off to kindergarten, middle school, high school – heck, I’ve even had the opportunity to walk her to her first class when she started her studies at the university.  Each time she started school she came home more intelligent, spirited, and slightly saucier.

And yet, sending her off to work in your district as a teacher leaves me compelled to share a few things with you.  I want you to know who she is and understand the kind of teacher she wants to be.

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Pugach PhotoMarleen C. Pugach is a Professor of Teacher Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she has been responsible for the preparation of teachers for urban elementary and middle schools since 1986.  Her areas of expertise include teacher education reform, collaboration in the preparation of special and general education teachers, and urban school-university partnerships. She is currently exploring how programs of dual certification in general and special education address diversity and the degree to which they represent substantial, transformative changes in teacher education.

This week I meet my first classes of the semester, one of which is a seminar for prospective teachers. These students are reaching the halfway mark in their teacher education programs and one of my most important goals is to create a sense of energy and motivation as they—for the first time—take on the responsibility of working with small groups and organizing instruction for whole classrooms of students in Milwaukee’s high needs urban schools. My seminar ties together courses students will be taking in the academic curriculum, assessment, and disability with their experiences in the field and places this all within a strong equity and urban-oriented focus that is the hallmark of our programs. Read more