2023 NAEd/SPENCER POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS
Jennifer Blaney, Northern Arizona University
Jennifer M. Blaney earned her PhD in Higher Education and Organizational Change from UCLA and currently works as an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Northern Arizona University. Dr. Blaney’s mixed methods research explores gender equity and community college transfer pathways in computer science and other STEM fields. She is especially interested in using feminist methodologies to complicate existing knowledge related to equity in STEM and humanize our understanding of STEM students’ degree trajectories. Dr. Blaney has served as the Principal Investigator on projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the Spencer Foundation. Her research has been published in the Journal of Higher Education, Review of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, and other leading STEM and higher education journals. She was the recipient of Northern Arizona University’s 2021 Most Promising New Research Scholar Award and serves as a core faculty member in her university’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning. Before joining the faculty at Northern Arizona University, she worked as a postdoctoral scholar at Utah State University and as the Senior Data Manager on the BRAID Research Project, a national study of equity in undergraduate computing, led by Dr. Linda Sax at UCLA.
Women’s Community College Transfer Pathways in STEM: Exploring Opportunities to Advance Gender Equity and Social Mobility
Community college pathways are critical to advancing equity in STEM. However, despite the wealth of literature exploring gender and women’s success in undergraduate STEM programs, most of this research centers the experiences of women who follow direct pathways from high school to four-year universities. My research addresses this gap in the literature by focusing on one of the least diverse and most lucrative STEM fields: computer science. The proposed study specifically explores the experiences and aspirations of women who transfer from community colleges to four-year universities in pursuit of a computer science bachelor’s degree. Using a mixed-methods design and feminist standpoint theory, this study will consider how women’s pathways intersect with larger structural barriers, relying on surveys and interviews with upward transfer women, alongside data from faculty, staff, and administrators across five research universities. Drawing on Dr. Xueli Wang’s STEM upward transfer model, this study will provide crucial insight into strategies for increasing women’s access to computer science degrees and careers. More broadly, findings will have implications for how researchers approach future studies of gender and women in STEM, ensuring that future work is representative of women following pathways through community colleges.
Elise Castillo, Trinity College
Elise Castillo is an Assistant Professor of Educational Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She conducts qualitative research on school choice policies, focusing on their possibilities for, and limitations to, advancing equitable, democratic, and racially integrated public education. As an interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Castillo employ concepts from sociology, political science, and critical policy analysis. She has a particular interest in understanding how diverse Asian American students and families experience and make sense of school choice and integration policies, and she has investigated this topic in Greater Hartford, Connecticut, and New York City. Related work examines the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on school integration organizing in New York City, where school choice has exacerbated segregation over the last two decades; and how progressive and community-based charter schools can advance or hinder racial equity and integration. Her work has been published in various academic journals, including American Journal of Education; Education Policy Analysis Archives; and Race, Ethnicity, and Education. In addition, she has shared her work with broader audiences in The Connecticut Mirror and the Have You Heard podcast. Dr. Castillo taught middle and high school English in New York City public schools prior to earning her Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Asian American Students, School Choice, and Integration
Research at the intersection of competitive school choice and segregation under-examines the experiences of Asian American students and families, mirroring the longstanding invisibility of Asian Americans in research and policy. Yet as the fastest-growing immigrant group in the nation, and one of the most politically, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse, Asian American students stand to substantially shape the racial politics of school choice and desegregation.
Thus, I ask: How do Asian American public high school students and recent alumni make sense of segregation and screened admissions in New York City public high schools? What frames do they employ in their sensemaking? What do their frames reveal about their understandings of Asian American racial identity and the American racial hierarchy?
To address these questions, this qualitative case study employs frame analysis, specifically, frames for making sense of race, class, and educational opportunity (Poon et al., 2019; Warikoo, 2016). By documenting how students’ diverse and intersectional identities may shape their views, findings will contribute to theory-building on Asian American racialization. Additionally, in demonstrating how Asian American students experience competitive school choice and segregation, findings will hold implications for how choice and integration policies can more equitably serve diverse Asian American communities.
Jessica Chandras, University of North Florida
Jessica Sujata Chandras is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of North Florida in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work. As a linguistic anthropologist, Dr. Chandras uses qualitative, ethnographic and sociolinguistic research methods to examine values attached to language and multilingual language socialization practices pertaining to education through a lens of power. She explores political economies of language with a focus on intersections of language and socioeconomic class, caste, and linguistic politics in education, policy, and revitalization movements based in urban and rural Maharashtra, India. Dr. Chandras’s focus on multilingualism in education and social stratification was inspired by teaching English in the Basque Country for two years before pursuing her PhD. Her research in India has been supported by the International Society of the Learning Sciences and the Wallace Foundation and she was previously an NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellow. Her book, Mother Tongue Prestige: The Sociolinguistics of Privilege in Urban Middle-Class Education in India is forthcoming from Routledge in 2023. Dr. Chandras received her PhD in Anthropology from the George Washington University, in Washington, DC in 2019 and graduated with honors from the University of Washington with a BA in Anthropology with a minor in Spanish in 2010. Her work on language, education, and pedagogy has been featured in the journals Language and Education (2021), Teaching Anthropology (2021), Critical Asian Studies (2019), and Contemporary Education Dialogue (2022).
(Out)caste Education: Laman Banjara Student Identity and Linguistic Marginalization in Rural India
India’s socially segregated society remains a barrier to educational equity for students of lower castes, low classes, and non-Hindu religions. My project focuses on the role of linguistic inclusivity for equity in education by examining impacts of caste, language, and identity in education for students from a socially marginalized, Denotified Tribal group in a rural region of the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Through qualitative ethnographic methods, I explore social stratification and the political economy of language evidenced in education among communities with two different home languages, or mother tongues: Marathi, the official state language of Maharashtra and Banjara, a language spoken by the formally nomadic community. The question framing this study asks how Banjara students, a group positioned at the margins of caste and socioeconomic status in India, understand and craft their identities in education through a distinct language within prevailing social hierarchies? Building on the need for more pedagogical scaffolding for Banjara students to learn Marathi identified through a pilot study in 2022, the project goals include creating research-practitioner partnerships to address equity in education through linguistic inclusivity and building interventions for greater access to educational advancement and inclusive pedagogies for linguistic minorities. Theoretical implications contribute to educational sociolinguistics and studies of language in education, identity, and belonging in learning sciences and the linguistic anthropology of education. This study builds a model to collaboratively shape educational structures, through language mediums of instruction, to broaden education equity by empowering further inclusivity of students from diverse linguistic and social backgrounds.
María Cioè-Peña, University of Pennsylvania
María Cioè-Peña is an assistant professor in the educational linguistics division at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. A former bilingual special education teacher, she studies bilingual children with dis/abilities, their families, and their ability to access multilingual and inclusive learning spaces within public schools. Her interests are deeply rooted in political economy, critical dis/ability awareness, and raciolinguistic perspectives within schools and families. Her work appears in Teachers College Record (2021), Urban Review (2020), Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (2022), International Journal of Inclusive Education (2017/2022), Journal of Latinos & Education (2021/2022). Her book, (M)othering Labeled Children: Bilingualism and Disability in the Lives of Latinx Mothers, received the 2023 American Association of Applied Linguistics First Book Award. In 2022, her article “Wanting to Leave; Needing to Stay: Issues for undocumented mothers of children with disabilities” received the Inaugural Outstanding Publication Award from the Council For Exceptional Children’s Division for Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Learners. She was also awarded the Early Career Award by AERA’s Bilingual Education Research SIG in 2022.
B is for Bilingual, Black, or Broken: Erasure and pathologization through school-based ethnic, linguistic and disability classifications
This project examines the racializing and pathologizing experiences of Black Latinx students who receive English language and special education services. Due to the continued use and perception of “Latinx” as a monolithic identity, Black Latinx students are missing from data even as they are heavily impacted by racism and ableism. As such, we cannot fully account for the depth of inequity across schooling. This study will document the experiences of Black Latinx students who received English language and/or special education services, with the goal of introducing the particularities of these students’ experiences to equity discourses. Using interviews and descriptive inquiry, I will gather data that represent the experiences of Black Latinx students to showcase how current practices obscure issues related to their segregation across programs designed to support marginalized or at-risk learners. By centering these students’ experiences, this study has the potential to surface information that is critical to developing and applying policies focused on equity and inclusion as they relate to racialized learners who receive language and special education services. This will be the first major study of how educational labels are used to maintain hierarchies that privilege non-Black, English-dominant/bilingual, enabled students over Black, emergent bilingual students with disabilities.
James Joshua Coleman, University of Iowa
James Joshua Coleman (Josh) is an Assistant Professor of English Education in the University of Iowa’s College of Education. His research draws upon social science and humanities-based research traditions to integrate queer and trans studies scholarship with educational research. In particular, his work takes up critical narrative approaches to the study of queer and trans educator wellbeing as well as the study of LGBTQ+ youth literature. Dr. Coleman’s publications can be found in Teachers College Record, Teaching and Teacher Education, Reading Research Quarterly, Written Communication, English Education, and the Journal of Children’s Literature. His research has received awards from the AERA Queer SIG and the Conference on College Composition & Communication. Dr. Coleman received his Ph.D. from The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. He additionally holds an M.A. in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A.T from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a B.A. in English and French literature from Mercer University. Dr. Coleman was formerly a high school English teacher in Charlotte, NC and Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Paris, France.
Banned Childhoods: Storying Book Banning practices and LGBTQ+ Educational Activism in the Conservative Midwest
Book bans are on the rise across the United States, and LGBTQ+ children’s books are now the most banned of the 21st century. Targeted by social media campaigns and conservative educational policy (e.g., Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay Bill”), these texts spotlight an ideological battleground around banned childhoods, or the ideological belief that LGBTQ+ children are inappropriate for inclusion in U.S. schools and libraries. While educational scholarship has focused on nation-level change, research has yet to account for region-specific book banning practices and educational activism, despite book bans clustering in politically conservative regions (e.g., the Midwest and Deep South). Addressing this gap, this narrative inquiry study extends an ongoing research partnership with a Midwestern LGBTQ+ community organization and uses regional storytelling by local educational stakeholders (e.g., teachers, librarians, and community members) to chronicle educational activism in the conservative region. This study’s findings seek to advance educational knowledge on regional distinctions in book banning practices and educational activism, particularly in the Midwest. Storying one politically conservative region, project implications will increase access to LGBTQ+ children’s literature by 1) informing policy that targets region-specific book banning practices and 2) detailing practitioner approaches to challenging regional book bans in libraries and schools.
Sara Doolittle, University of Oklahoma
Sara Doolittle received her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Oklahoma. At that institution, she currently serves as a post-doctoral research associate on a donor-funded randomized controlled trial investigating high dosage mathematics tutoring in high school freshmen. Her own research focuses on the intersection of the law, race, and schools with a particular focus on nineteenth century school segregation law. Her work on legal challenges to Oklahoma territorial segregation law has appeared in History of Education Quarterly. Informed by her twenty-year career as a public educator, her research also focuses on twentieth and twenty-first century educational finance litigation. Employing both qualitative historical methodology as well as quantitative legal analysis, her work attends to the broader inequities in educational access. A 2019-2020 recipient of the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Research Development Award, she has also been selected for both the AERA Division F mentorship program and the History of Education Doctoral Summer School sponsored by the leading organizations in history of education. A proud product of an entirely public education, Sara earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, majoring in English and graduating Phi Beta Kappa with honors. Her master’s degree is in English Curriculum Studies from the University of Colorado.
Territorial Justice: Oklahoma and the Battle for Educational Rights
This legal history explores previously unstudied and undiscovered court challenges for educational access brought by Black settlers during Oklahoma’s territorial period (1889-1907). Through examining these local cases, my work addresses broader questions we have about educational rights and access. In Oklahoma Territory, Black pioneers had equal rights to land under the Homestead Act and the territory’s Organic Act. They had historic access to integrated education in other states, in neighboring Indian Territory, and on military posts. Yet racist forces were determined to deny access to Black children. Their families fought against a narrowing of their rights. These families found sympathetic judges in the territory’s courts. As a result, Oklahoma courts heard more challenges than in any other state. This history has a broader significance. This was a pivotal time for the law and for public education, and a defining period for Black citizenship. As such my research sheds new light on the question: is there a federal right to education? It further considers: What is the role of the federal government in protecting the rights of all its citizens to educational access? How is racial hierarchy upheld by negating this history of rights claims as it pertains to education?
Meseret Hailu, Arizona State University
Dr. Meseret F. Hailu is an assistant professor of higher and postsecondary education at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University (ASU). Her research focuses on how institutions of higher education retain minoritized women in STEM pathways. Dr. Hailu is exploring two lines of research in 2023 concerning the experiences of undergraduate Black women in different geographic settings: East Africa and the United States. Her primary research agenda investigates how articulations of identity shape educational retention and reflect institutional culture. Methodologically, Dr. Hailu approaches her work through mixed methods, specializing in qualitative research. Her work has been published in top-tiered journals, including Comparative Education Review, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, and Research in Higher Education. Additionally, she has received funding from the Fulbright Program, National Science Foundation, and the United States Agency for International Development. Prior to coming to ASU, Dr. Hailu was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at The Ohio State University, where she studied the experiences of women of color faculty in engineering departments. She received her Ph.D. from the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver, an M.S. from Regis University, and a B.S./B.A. from the University of Denver.
Gendered Engineering Laboratories: Microcosms of Universities in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda
The underrepresentation of women in STEM is a perennial issue in the study of higher education. Studying women in engineering programs at private higher education institutions is necessary as these settings are uniquely positioned to lessen inequalities for women in STEM due to growing enrollment and institutional resources. This project focuses on the gendered dimension of university laboratories of three private universities in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Using an institutional ethnography design, I explore engineering laboratory spaces, curricular materials, and the perspectives of engineering faculty to unpack the contextual factors that influence how women in East African countries navigate engineering programs in higher education. The research question driving this work is: what can be learned about equitable teaching experiences for women through a comparative study of engineering laboratory classrooms in private African institutions? Employing an African feminist worldview, my study illuminates how African faculty members design pedagogical approaches to create equitable learning environment; what messages are communicated based on artwork, signs, and other physical attributes of laboratory environments; how materials such as course syllabi, flyers, and physical laboratory materials are used; and how women engage in placemaking in engineering laboratories. This work allows me to extend the scope of my current scholarship on public universities in Africa to the rapidly proliferating sector of private higher education. Additionally, it will provide scholars and institutional policy makers with a better understanding of how to lessen the structural and interpersonal challenges that often encumber laboratory learning for women in East African postsecondary institutions.
Davena Jackson, Boston University
Davena Jackson is an assistant professor of urban education in the Department of Teaching and Learning, where she focuses on English education, language, and literacy. A 20+ year veteran English educator, her research-practice partnerships have sought to disrupt anti-Blackness, anti-Black racism, and white supremacy in secondary English education and classrooms. Her research centers on teachers’ justice-oriented commitments and curricular and pedagogical choices that lead to the transformation and liberation of English classrooms. Also, her research interests include critical literacy, culturally responsive teaching theories, justice, equity, and Black Language. Her work has been published in the Research in the Teaching of English (2022), Conference on College Composition & Communication (2020), Journal Literacy Research (2020), Teachers College Record (2019), and the International Review of Qualitative Research (2017). She received her PhD from Michigan State University in Curriculum, Instruction & Teacher Education. Also, she holds a graduate certificate in urban education.
Finally, Dr. Jackson is the Faculty Lead for the Affiliates Program at The Center for Antiracist Research (CAR) at Boston University and a Faculty Affiliate at The Center on the Ecology of Early Development (CEED) in the Wheelock College of Education & Human Development at Boston University.
Advancing Justice-Oriented Solidarity: Partnering to Transform Black Students’ Literacies across Eight English Classrooms in an Urban High School
As recently as February 2021, legislators in Massachusetts filed two bills (in the House and Senate) that would make legal changes in the Commonwealth relative to anti-racism, equity, and justice in education, making this project timely and consequential for Black students. They cited racial inequity as the rationale for preparing teachers and counselors to enact antiracist pedagogies that would support students in learning to dismantle racism in society. In response to this filing, this project is the impetus for preparing and supporting teachers to support and affirm students across eight English classrooms where Blackness has multiple representations. Within this state-level policy context, this project will represent working with and alongside eight diverse (e.g., Black, White, Latina) English teachers, grades 8-12, at a school in the Northeast. The school serves various communities that constitute Blackness (e.g., African American, Cape Verdean, and Haitian). Using the justice-oriented solidarity (JOS) framework (Jackson, 2020), the project will highlight the possibilities of a group of diverse teachers working in solidarity with a teacher-researcher and sharing in the commitment to advancing Black students’ literacy development within equitable and just learning spaces where Blackness is centered. In addition, the project will show how teachers actualize their shared commitments to antiracist, justice-oriented curriculum and pedagogy to center Black students’ full humanity while simultaneously disrupting anti-Black racism and white supremacy. Finally, this study can inform literacy educators and beyond of what is possible when teachers partner with a teacher-researcher to co-design antiracist teaching and learning.
Anthony Johnson, The Ohio State University
Anthony M. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at The Ohio State University. His research focuses broadly on the cultural mechanisms of inequality reproduction in education. His work explores new forms of inequality among peer groups in the wake of the widespread adoption of collaborative learning approaches in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. His current book project, Engineering Advantage, examines the disparate collaborative experiences of college students in elite STEM programs and the role of the culture and structure of these programs in reproducing these disparities. His research has appeared in academic journals including American Sociological Review and Sociology of Education and has been supported by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship Program, the National Science Foundation, and the Student Experience Research Network (formerly the Mindset Scholars Network). He completed his PhD in Sociology at Northwestern University and a postdoctoral fellowship with the Inequality in America Initiative at Harvard University.
Engineering Advantage: How Inequality Persists in an Era of Collaborative Learning
Collaboration has become widely endorsed on college campuses—especially in academically rigorous programs like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)—given its potential to yield not only deeper but also more equitable learning for students from all backgrounds. But what are students’ collaborative experiences actually like in these programs, and are they, in fact, equitable? Using a qualitative case study of an elite engineering school in which I conducted interviews with 88 students and six administrators as well as observations over the course of two and a half years, this project shows how the culture and structure of STEM programs actually undermine the equitable promises of collaborative learning by creating more positive collaborative experiences for privileged students than for their less-privileged counterparts and by positioning privileged students to receive more academic help, support, and learning opportunities. The extreme academic rigor of the engineering school facilitated collaboration among students, albeit a competitive form of it. However, little guidance was provided about how and with whom to collaborate, placing the burden on students to rely on their own backgrounds to navigate the peer collaborative scene. Compared to their less-privileged counterparts, privileged students—those from class-advantaged high school contexts as well as who were affluent, male, and White and Asian—were more comfortable and better able to get involved on campus (which yielded more collaborative opportunities), collaborate, and participate within collaborative groups.
Suneal Kolluri, University of California, Riverside
Suneal Kolluri is an assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Riverside. He researches social stratification in high school. Specifically, leveraging sociological theories, qualitative and mixed methods, and insights from nine-years of teaching in Oakland public schools, he interrogates how college readiness practices and school curricula shape existing inequalities by race, ethnicity, class, and gender. His research has appeared in the Harvard Educational Review, Urban Education, the Review of Educational Research, and Educational Researcher, among others. He has written op-eds in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Inside Higher Ed, and Education Week. Previously, he was a President’s Postdoctoral Scholar for the University of California, and he was awarded National Board Certification for secondary social studies teaching. He received his PhD from the University of Southern California, his MA from Stanford University, and his BA from UCLA.
Making Meritocrats: An Examination of the Development of Meritocratic Ideologies in High School
Notions of merit are at the ideological center of the United States high school. Students ostensibly earn grades, gain access to advanced classes, and achieve admission to college, all on the basis of smarts and hard work. However, U.S. meritocracy – the belief that those atop social hierarchies have earned their position due to superior ability or work ethic – is deeply paradoxical. People in the U.S. are among the world’s strongest believers that anyone who works hard can succeed, but they experience less social mobility than residents of almost any other developed nation. The role of the high school in perpetuating this paradox deserves interrogation. Leveraging social network analysis and ethnographic methods, I will ask how are meritocratic beliefs produced, reinforced, and resisted in a racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse public high school in the United States? How students experience academic opportunity and how they engage with peers and teachers in their high school likely shape their beliefs about the meritocracy myth. Since political leaders often legitimize inequality under the rhetorical guise of meritocracy, an exploration of how meritocratic ideologies manifest among students on the precipice of adulthood can help advance justice in the United States.
Heather McCambly, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Heather McCambly is an assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. McCambly’s work—across research, teaching, and service–is guided by her commitment to co-creating more equitable, just, and joy-filled futures in higher education for Black, brown, Indigenous, and People of Color whose labor and lands have been stolen to create the academy we know today.
Dr. McCambly studies the role of organizations in (re)producing systemic, racial inequalities, and draws on a range of analytic and interpretive methods to study the influence of aspiring change agents on institutionalized racial inequities in higher education practice and policy. Her research has been featured in multiple outlets including Change Magazine, the Journal of Higher Education, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Review of Higher Education, and Foundation Review. In 2023, Dr. McCambly published an edited volume, along with Dr. Lorenzo Baber, entitled Critiques for Transformation: Reimagining Colleges and Communities for Social Justice published by Information Age Press. Her work has been recognized by the Spencer Foundation’s Conference Grant to build the Quant4What Collective, the University of Pittsburgh School of Education Dean’s Faculty Research Grant and Distinguished Award for Research, the AERA Division-J Outstanding Dissertation Award, the American Political Science Association’s David Brian Robertson 2022 Politics and History Best Paper Award, Northwestern University’s highly prestigious Presidential Fellowship, and the Association for Education Finance and Policy’s New Scholar Award.
Reversing the Research Lens: Analyzing Turns Toward Racial Equity at IES and NSF
Recent studies have spotlighted the persistently racialized funding decisions of agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation (NSF). These inequities have critical implications for the study of racialization in higher education as grant funds are used as key indicators of institutional prestige; to legitimize particular methodological, epistemic, and political traditions in research; and to shape participation in the academy via influence over tenure outcomes and graduate student training. Prior work also demonstrates that government policies that favor research infrastructures and methodologies concentrated at elite, white-serving institutions provide a race-evasive mechanism for the racialized distribution of resources in educational research.
This project takes up grantmaking as a hidden yet pervasive mechanism of racialization at two agencies that play critical roles in educational research and reform: the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) and the NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate (NSF-EHDR). Using a longitudinal (2010-2024), mixed-methods study, I ask: 1) How have equity commitments and policy designs at IES and NSF-EHRD changed over time?, 2) How do IES and NSF-EHDR grantee characteristics differ from the universe of eligible institutions and researchers, and have these differences varied across policy conditions?, 3) What epistemological and axiological values are reflected by funded projects, and how has this varied over time, by organizational and individual characteristics, and funding programs? In doing so, this project seeks to offer critiques of education-focused grantmaking generative to catalyzing shifts toward racial equity and epistemic expansion in the academy and educational policy more broadly.
Meixi, University of Minnesota
Meixi is a Hokchiu daughter-sister-scholar, learning scientist, former middle school math teacher from Singapore who also grew up with Lahu community in northern Thailand. Growing up navigating languages and knowledge systems across mangrove forests and highland mountains, Meixi’s work is centered on an enduring concern: how can schools contribute to the collective livelihoods and future wellbeing of Indigenous young people, families, and the lands and waters where they live? Her pursuit of this question interweaves comparative education with learning sciences, and through studying micro-moments of interaction in relation to macro-global sociopolitical and ecological phenomena. For over the past decade, Meixi has worked with teachers, families, and young people to design Indigenous-led public schools from within Indigenous relationalities and theories of learning in the Mekong, Upper Mississippi, and México. Meixi is centrally interested in studying the cultural, historical, political, ethical, and poetic dimensions of human learning and development as people move and meet across place towards more just and thriving socioecological futures. They are actively involved in designing intergenerational land-based learning systems that strengthen one’s ethical commitments to each other and the rest of the living world, and developing relational methodologies such as family storywalks and trans-Indigenous design research. Meixi earned her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Human Development from the University of Washington and her B.S. in Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Comparative and International Education Development in the department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development at the University of Minnesota.
Redesigning Schools with Family Story Walks in Three Indigenous Contexts
Indigenous-led public schools are critical sites for experimenting and enacting educational sovereignty. This study engages global Indigenous collaborations of families and educators to design land-based school systems that both shape and are shaped by socioecological shifts of our times. My research study asks: What forms of public schooling support Indigenous families’ collective continuance across generations in the face of competing demands and rapidly changing socioecological systems? I explore this question through participatory design research and trans-Indigenous methodologies to design for distinct relational forms of learning where Indigenous family and land-based intellectual systems are the first ontological grounds of teaching and learning at school. Together with four Indigenous communities (e.g. Lahu, Akha, Mayan, Dakota) across three Indigenous-led schools in Chiang Rai, Thailand, Chiapas, Mexico, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, I study how transformed land-educator-family relationships on Family Storywalks expand possibilities for transforming the everyday practices of educators. I use a mix of qualitative inquiry, video interaction analysis, and epistemic network analysis to highlight families’ complex theories of collective continuance while extrapolating generalizable patterns across them. As Indigenous communities navigate increased pressures and renewed ways to self-determine their futures, this study contributes sociocultural theories of intergenerational learning and thriving across place. In increasingly uninhabitable worlds, I offer pragmatic strategies to regenerate new forms of schooling within global Indigenous relations toward collective thriving and contribute foundational understandings to human learning that reaffirm Indigenous peoples as permanent generators of knowledge.
Joel Mittleman, University of Notre Dame
Joel Mittleman is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, where he is a faculty affiliate of the Gender Studies Program and the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity. As a quantitative sociologist and social demographer, Mittleman studies inequality with a focus on gender, education and LGBTQ+ populations. Across projects, his research advances innovative tools for analyzing gender inequality beyond the binary categories of female and male. Mittleman’s research has been published in the American Sociological Review, Gender & Society, Sociology of Education, the Journal of Adolescent Health and Educational Researcher. Prior to joining the faculty at Notre Dame, he earned his PhD in Sociology and Social Policy at Princeton University, where he was a trainee in the Office of Population Research.
Gender Inequality Beyond the Gender Binary: A “Gender Predictive” Approach
America’s rapidly expanding college gender gap has refocused public attention on the underachievement of boys. Although scholars have long argued that boys’ academic engagement is undercut by dominant masculinity norms, these norms have been largely invisible in quantitative research. Instead, researchers have been restricted to documenting disparities by binary sex, collapsing the entire gender spectrum into a 0 or 1. This binary approach erases the experiences of students who do not adhere to gender norms and is increasingly out-of-step with how gender is understood today.
This project provides a way to move beyond this binary framework. Analyzing four decades of high school cohort studies, I will use machine learning to quantify the extent to which students’ survey responses conform with the gender norms reported by their peers. By directly measuring gender norms, it becomes possible to analyze students throughout the gender spectrum: both those who adhere strongly to gender norms and those who depart radically from them. Across six separate cohorts, I will use this “gender predictive” approach to analyze students’ social, academic and economic outcomes. Reanalyzing these old data in an entirely new way, I will advance a timely new account of masculinity and the rising gender gap in education.
Tiffany Nyachae, Pennsylvania State University
Tiffany M. Nyachae is an Assistant Professor of Education and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the College of Education at Penn State University. Dr. Nyachae earned a Ph.D. in Literacy Education: Curriculum, Instruction, and the Science of Learning from the University at Buffalo (SUNY). As a Black Feminist pedagogue and transdisciplinary, community-engaged scholar, Dr. Nyachae’s lived experiences and complicated historical connection to this land foreground her justice work in various contexts for the purposes of reimagining schools and overall social transformation. Specifically, she employs critically conscious and humanizing research approaches to qualitative studies guided by various justice-oriented theories of race, Black girlhood, Black woman knowing/being/experiences, space, and becoming. Informed by her experiences as a middle school teacher, Dr. Nyachae’s research portfolio includes: (a) ethnographic and multiple case studies on supporting urban teachers committed to social justice through “race space” critical professional development; (b) design-based research studies of learning, learning environments, and literacy development in social justice literacy workshops for youth of Color; and (c) content and critical discourse analyses of extracurricular programs and curriculum for Black girls. Her publications have appeared in journals such as Urban Education, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Gender and Education, and Qualitative Inquiry. Additionally, she completed fellowships in the International Society of the Learning Sciences’ (ISLS) Emerging Scholars Program; STAR (Scholars of Color Transitioning into Academic Research Institutions) Mentoring Program through the Literacy Research Association; and Cultivating New Voices Among Scholars of Color (CNV) Program through the National Council of Teachers of English.
Remembering and (Re)reading Black Girl-Oriented Programs for Multiple Girlhoods and Futures
Guided by endarkened feminist epistemology, Black feminist pedagogy, Black girlhood theories/pedagogies, and various explanations for success, this project examines the impact of Black girl-oriented programs from the perspectives of approximately 70 young adults who participated as youth over a decade ago to understand the impact and possible areas for growth in programs for Black girls, towards their futures, and in approaches to addressing Black girls in education. The current knowledge of longitudinal impact for youth programs overall is weak, and almost non-existent for Black girl-oriented programs. Drawing on phenomenological research, Black Girl Cartography, and memory work methodologies, the following research questions guide this qualitative study: (1) How do former participants remember the program?; (2) What are their (re)readings of program curriculum?; (3) How do they articulate Black girlhood and success?; (4) How, if at all, was/is the program responsive and relevant to who they were, became, and hope to become? This research provides unique contributions to theories about, and methodologies for including, the range of Black young adult perspectives and experiences in educational research as they interact with the pedagogies and epistemologies of Black women researcher-educators. Additionally, this research brings together scholarship on Black girlhood and memory work to consider how education contributes to Black girl thriving and socialization processes across time and contexts. A major implication of this project is holding education policy and practice accountable for supporting Black girl-oriented programs beyond the 1–2-year (or less) lifespan that many suffer due to lack of support and funding.
Luis Rodriguez, New York University
Luis A. Rodriguez is Assistant Professor of Education Leadership and Policy Studies in the Department of Administration, Leadership, and Technology at NYU. Dr. Rodriguez’s research applies interdisciplinary perspectives to examine how school organizational conditions, education reform, and broader socio-political factors affect the P-12 education workforce and its ability to generate positive outcomes for students. He is particularly interested in the identification of policies, programs, and practices capable of sustaining an equitable distribution of diverse and highly qualified teachers for students from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds. In his ongoing research projects, Dr. Rodriguez investigates factors affecting the recruitment and retention of teachers of color as well as the influence of tenure, evaluation, and other human capital management reforms on teacher turnover and performance.
Dr. Rodriguez is currently a Research Affiliate with the Research Alliance for New York City Schools (RANYCS), the Institute for Human Development and Social Change (IHDSC), and the NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. He received his doctorate in K-12 Education Leadership and Policy Studies with a specialization in Quantitative Methods from Vanderbilt University, and holds a bachelor’s in Economics from Swarthmore College.
Extending Teacher Talent: A Mixed-Methods Study of the Paraprofessional Pool in New York City
The challenge of constructing and maintaining a diverse and high-quality pool of teaching candidates is a significant concern for education policymakers and practitioners. Prior research indicates that many school districts struggle to find qualified candidates for vacant teacher positions, particularly in schools that predominantly serve students from low-income families, students of color, or those who do not speak English as their first language. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these shortages in recent years. Such trends place critical importance on investing in policies and programs to cultivate what many education policymakers and practitioners consider to be a plausible candidate pool for future teachers, prompting persistent calls advocating for the preparation of paraprofessionals as future full-time classroom teachers. The goal of the current project is to shed additional light on paraprofessional demographics and career trajectories and their ambitions to enter the teaching profession, specifically within the New York City context. Using an explanatory sequential mixed methods study design, the study will provide a descriptive portrait of the paraprofessional pool and identify the organizational conditions that support and impede paraprofessionals from transitioning into full-time teaching roles. The ultimate objective of the project is to inform the work of education policymakers, practitioners, and researchers who seek to improve teacher preparation pipelines and support the professional advancement of paraprofessionals into the teaching profession.
Natalia Rojas, New York University
Natalia Rojas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health at New York University Grossman School of Medicine. Trained as an applied developmental psychologist, her research investigates how emergent bilingual children’s interactions with teachers, caregivers, and peers shape their school readiness outcomes. As scholar who uses a range of methodologies including mixed methods and community-engaged research, her work seeks to eliminate educational inequities by developing and evaluating sustainable, system-level approaches to training and supporting teachers of culturally- and linguistically-diverse children. Some examples of her community-engaged and research-practice-policy work include a research-practice partnership with NYC district leaders, a collaborative project with the New York Immigration Coalition, and a community-based initiative to improve school readiness among immigrant children and families. Natalia Rojas’ research has been supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (2018), and the National Science Foundation. Her work has been published in the Early Childhood Research Quarterly, AERA Open, Journal of Educational Psychology, and Journal of School Psychology. She is also a recipient of the Promising Scholar Award from the Foundation of Child Development (2023). Natalia Rojas holds a doctorate in Applied Psychology from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
The benefits of bilingual peers: examining educators’ facilitation of supportive language strategies among emergent bilingual children and their peers
Providing Spanish-English emergent bilinguals with access to high-quality early childhood education (ECE) programs may reduce longstanding inequities in our educational systems. Yet, despite the importance of peer interactions, peers are rarely considered a solution for reducing inequality in the classroom and improving emergent bilingual learning and development. Although peer interactions may not be as constructive without educators’ facilitation and support, prior research focuses on either peer interactions or educators’ scaffolding of peer interactions without careful consideration of the dynamics between the two. As such, this mixed method proposes: (1) examining what supportive language strategies emergent bilingual peers use to scaffold learning (language and other) with one another; (2) exploring the social and linguistic strategies educators use to facilitate peer interactions and how these strategies facilitate peers’ supportive language strategies; and (3) studying the process of co-developing with ECE educators a set of practice recommendations to facilitate peer interactions. Not only will results from this study expand our understanding of peer interactions, but by focusing on specific strategies at the emergent bilingual child and educator level, this study allows for immediate application to peer-mediated programs, ECE classroom practices, and potential educator professional learning programs.
Karina Salazar, University of Arizona
Karina Salazar is an Assistant Professor in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona. Her research analyzes how the enrollment management practices of public universities shape college access for underserved student populations. Using data science methodologies and the Freedom of Information Act as data collection strategies, her current work focuses on exploring university recruiting and marketing behaviors. Salazar is a local Tucsonan and proud graduate of the Sunnyside Unified School District. She completed her graduate studies at the University of Arizona where her dissertation research was funded by the American Educational Research Association.
Creating Borders to Opportunity From Historic Inequity: Investigating Geodemographic Filters in Student List Products
Colleges identify prospective students by purchasing “student lists” from the College Board and other vendors. Student lists contain the contact information of prospective students who satisfy “search filter” criteria (e.g., test score range, high school GPA, zip code) specified by colleges, which are the central input to admissions recruiting campaigns that have substantial effects on college access for millions of students each year. Using secondary data, this project recreates proprietary geodemographic student list filters that develop new geographical borders based on historical college-going patterns to make projections about current students. Salazar will investigate how geodemographic filters interact with spatial politics that contribute to the educational disenfranchisement of communities of color. Policymakers and researchers concerned with college access have largely ignored the educational technology industry’s intermediary role in connecting colleges to students. This project contributes to a nascent literature investigating how educational algorithmic products structure opportunities along race, class, and geography.
Eunjin Seo, University of Texas at Austin
Eunjin Seo is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin and will serve as an Assistant Professor at Texas State University from the fall of 2023. Eunjin completed her B.A. in education from Seoul National University, South Korea, where she was a proud first-generation college student. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin as a Fulbright scholar. Her research focuses on understanding the dynamic interplay between motivation, achievement, and well-being during adolescence and emerging adulthood, aiming to improve adolescents’ trajectories on the path to adulthood. Eunjin pays particular attention to how developmental contexts can deplete the psychological resources of students who are structurally disadvantaged and minoritized. Her research employs high-intensity situational data, such as repeated measures, daily diaries, and continuous physiological monitoring, connecting them with longitudinal data on administrative and clinical outcomes. Eunjin’s research often utilizes large, multi-site studies to understand how these micro-psychological processes play out across different environments with different levels of resources, opportunities, or constraints. This approach highlights how developmental contexts shape situational motivation and stress responses, accumulating consequences for long-term achievement and well-being. Eunjin has won several awards for her research, including the Fulbright Research Award, the Paul R. Pintrich Memorial Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the National Study of Learning Mindsets Early Career Fellowship from the Student Experience Research Network, and the Michael B. Salwen Research Award from the Korean American Educational Research Association.
A Causal Examination of How Peer Mindset Climate Shapes STEM Major Belongingness and Persistence
The racial and ethnic inequality in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education impairs the quality of the U.S. workforce and makes our economic system unjust. Interventions targeting STEM students’ mindsets, such as utility value and growth mindsets, have shown some promising effects in reducing disparities, but they are unlikely to fully mitigate inequality due to the importance of the classroom climate, such as peers. The way peers think and talk about who is smart and who can succeed in large gateway STEM courses can be a powerful resource or risk factor for minoritized students’ persistence in STEM majors. To date, research on the classroom’s mindset climate has been correlational, with insufficient causal evidence to make concrete policy recommendations for using peer climate to narrow group disparities in STEM. In this postdoctoral fellowship, Eunjin Seo will create and use two novel datasets to generate causal evidence about the effects of peers’ fixed mindset on Black, Latinx, or Indigenous students’ belongingness and persistence in STEM majors. This research will reveal the causal role of the peer climate in reproducing inequality and provide the basis for concrete solutions that target modifiable climate factors such as peers’ mindsets.
Michael Singh, University of California, Davis
Michael V. Singh is an assistant professor in the Department of Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Davis. His research is guided by questions of racial and gender justice in schools, with a focus on education initiatives targeting Latino men and boys. His work has three interrelated strands: 1) Ethnographic explorations of Latino manhood amid neoliberal framings of race and urban schooling, 2) The professional experiences and pedagogical practices of Latino men educators, and 3) Everyday refusals and queer disruptions among Latino men and boys. Dr. Singh is currently completing his first book manuscript with the University of Minnesota Press. Tentatively titled, Good Boys: Race, Neoliberalism, and the Politics of Empowering Latino Boys in Schools, this book comes from two years of ethnographic research with a school-based mentorship program. It examines the ways converging neoliberal discourses of race, gender, class, and sexuality influence how Latino male empowerment programs (re)imagine the role of Latino men youth workers, who are positioned as positive role models in the lives of their students.
Singh received his Ph.D. from the Berkeley School of Education at UC Berkeley. He was a NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellow and later a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Chicana/o Studies at UC Santa Barbara. His research has been published in journals such as American Educational Research Journal, Urban Education, Race Ethnicity and Education, and Critical Studies in Education.
Latino men at the intersections: Centering diverse perspectives and new conceptual frameworks in research among Latino men teachers
In recent years, there has been a tremendous effort to recruit and retain more men of color in the teaching profession. While these efforts remain widely popular, emerging critiques challenge deficit logics that frequently posit men of color as the patriarchal saviors and fixers of problematic boys of color. Furthermore, critical race scholars have critiqued the ways the catch-all category “men of color” lacks specificity and forfeits a more robust analysis of race and racism. This research project is designed as a qualitative study exploring the life histories and professional experiences of Latino men teachers from non-dominant backgrounds. It is designed as a life-history narrative inquiry and will utilize a three-phase interview regimen. Using an instrumental and targeted qualitative approach, the study’s purposeful sampling brings Indigenous, queer, critical, and Black Latino men voices to the fore. Furthermore, the conceptual framing of this project offers an intersectional and relational approach to the study of race, gender, and sexuality. The objectives of this research are to a) explore the lives and experiences of Latino men teachers—a teacher population rarely studied in isolation, and b) deconstruct the heterogeneity of the grouping “Latino men teachers,” with specific attention to interlocking systems of oppression. Overall, this study centers new voices and conceptual frameworks in the conversation surrounding men of color teachers with the hope of paving new, justice-oriented avenues of research.
Kelly Slay, Vanderbilt University
Kelly E. Slay is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Public Policy in the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. Her research examines issues of race, diversity, and equity in higher education and is primarily focused in three areas: (1) factors that shape college choice, completion, and career trajectories among Black students and other students minoritized in higher education (2) the use and equity implications of enrollment management policies, particularly in post-affirmative action contexts; and (3) how bans on race-conscious affirmative action shape the experiences of marginalized students. Two of her recent projects, both situated in the COVID-19 pandemic, examine the implementation of test-optional admissions and the college-going pathways of Black high school students.
Dr. Slay’s research is published in the Review of Higher Education, Teachers College Record, and Educational Policy, among other outlets, including the recently co-edited book, Rethinking College Admissions. She is co-PI on a $1.7 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to examine pathways into teaching for teacher candidates of color in Tennessee. Her research has also been supported by the Spencer Foundation and the Center for Public Policy in Diversity Societies. Dr. Slay earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education (concentration in public policy) and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. She holds a M.S. in Public Service Management from DePaul University. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Dr. Slay was a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland-College Park and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education.
Understanding Cognitive Tasks Inside the Black Box: A Strengths-Based Comparative Case Study of Test-Optional Admissions
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, test-optional policies have expanded rapidly. Now over 1,800 schools use test-optional approaches in some form, signaling the upward trajectory of these policies in higher education (FairTest, 2022). Much of the prior research on test-optional admissions has focused on liberal arts colleges and used quantitative methods to examine effects on application and enrollment diversity. Recognizing that the removal of standardized tests could lead to more ambiguity in the “black box” of admissions, the expansion of test-optional policies raises questions about how applications without test scores are evaluated by admissions personnel and the implications of these evaluative processes for students who are minoritized in higher education and stand to benefit most from the elimination of standardized tests.
Using a strengths-based comparative case study design, this qualitative study examines the admissions review processes of test-optional institutions that, after implementing such policies, experienced increases in their enrollment of undergraduate students from racially/ethnically and/or socioeconomically underrepresented backgrounds. Informed by theory for equitable decision-making, I draw from interviews and observations and use cognitive task analysis to illuminate the mental processes that underlie observable behavior among admissions professionals at three public universities with differing socio-organizational contexts and test-optional approaches. Findings will expand our knowledge of a broader range of test-optional institutions, provide rich insights into different approaches to test-optional admissions, and reveal the cognitive mechanisms that help explain how these policies improve diversity. With concerns about the future of race-conscious affirmative action, clarifying what works and why in enhancing access and diversity through test-optional policies will be an important contribution to higher education.
Kirsten Slungaard Mumma, Boston University
Kirsten Slungaard Mumma is a postdoctoral fellow at the Wheelock Educational Policy Center at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. In fall 2023, Kirsten will begin as an Assistant Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Kirsten’s research is in the economics of education. She studies how education programs and policies affect the economic, social, and political outcomes of children and adults. Her interests include immigrants and English learners, politics/political engagement and education, and K-12 school choice. Her work has been published in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy and has been featured by media outlets including the Washington Post, Education Week, Brookings Brown Center, and Chalkbeat.
Before graduate school, Kirsten worked for Rocketship Education, a charter management organization based out of California, and for the Chicago Public Schools. She holds an M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management and a PhD in Education Policy and Program Evaluation from Harvard University.
Identifying the Effects of Schools and Teachers on Civic Engagement
Despite record turnout, only half of all Americans aged 18-29 voted in the 2020 presidential election. Gaps in voter turnout are consequential for election outcomes, reflect (and may exacerbate) existing social inequalities, and diminish the ability of our democracy to fully represent the interests of its people. Although public schools have been called the “guardians of democracy,” it is not well understood whether and how K-12 schools and teachers contribute to civic engagement.
The goal of this study is to identify the effects of K-12 high schools and teachers on adult voting behavior and to generate evidence on the mechanisms behind these effects. I will do this by pairing contemporary approaches to value-added modelling with unique data linking K-12, birth, and voting records for students in Indiana to estimate “civic value-added measures” that control for parental voting. I will then relate these civic value-added measures to value-added estimates for test- and non-test outcomes, peer group composition, and school-level measures of civic education opportunities to identify potential mechanisms for these effects. Specifically, this study will address the following three research questions:
- How do high schools affect the civic engagement of their students?
- How do social studies teachers affect the civic engagement of their students?
- How do effects on civic engagement relate to effects on test and non-test outcomes, peer group composition, and other measures of civics-related coursework and extracurricular opportunities?
Stephanie Toliver, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Stephanie R. Toliver is an incoming Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Informed by her love of science fiction and fantasy texts as well as her experience as a 9th and 10th grade English teacher, Toliver’s scholarship centers the freedom dreams of Black youth and honors the historical legacy that Black imaginations have had and will have on activism and social change. Specifically, her research centers three, interrelated areas: (1) the examination of how Black youth engage in the reading and writing of speculative fiction to discuss and challenge their experiences with social injustice; (2) the consideration of how intersecting oppressions infiltrate the field of education and how educators must use their imaginations to dream of ways to challenge injustice in schools; and (3) the demonstration of how Black people use speculative storytelling to metaphorically describe modern and historical antiblackness and to dream of worlds and futures in which Black people are free from the burdens of societal injustice. She is the author of Recovering Black Storytelling in Qualitative Research: Endarkened Storywork, and her academic work has been published in several journals, including Equity, Excellence, & Education; Journal of Literacy Research; and Research in the Teaching of English. Her public scholarship has been featured on LitHub, Huffpost, and the Horn Book.
Black Steel, From Fringe to Center: A Critical Ethnography of Afrofuturist Literacy Practices on the Rust Belt
For more than half a century, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners have dedicated extensive time and resources to addressing Black literacy failure in the United States. Still, as educational stakeholders attempt to address the literacy needs of Black youth, they often fail to consider that Black students are not failures; instead, institutions of education are failing the literacies of Black students. This project aims to challenge deficit views that have thus far positioned Black literacies as failing by exploring the assets of Black literacy practice. Explicitly, utilizing critical ethnographic methods undergirded by a theoretical framework comprised of Community Cultural Wealth and Afrofuturism, this project aims to (1) identify and classify the Afrofuturist literacy practices in which Black people engage; (2) explore how Black people use Afrofuturist literacies to build community and challenge antiblackness; and (3)investigate how Black people’s Afrofuturist literacies align with or differ from the literacy practices often honored in schools. As a one-size-fits-all approach has historically failed to address Black youth’s literacy needs, this research offers educational stakeholders additional ways to challenge antiblack literacy policies and practices, uplift the community cultural wealth Black youth bring to school, and reject the positioning of Black youth as literacy failures.
Brian Van Wyck, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Brian Van Wyck is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with research interests in German and Turkish history, migration, education and Islam, and the history of knowledge. His book project offers a history of Islam, education, and knowledge production in the Federal Republic of Germany from the 1960s through the 2000s, centering on the role of teachers and imams from Turkey in the racialization of Islam and Turkishness in transnational space. His work has appeared in Geschichte und Gesellschaft and is forthcoming in edited collections on education and migrant integration and race and anti-racism in modern Germany. His research has been funded by the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright, the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Free University of Berlin, the Central European History Society, the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Munich, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University’s Mahindra Humanities Center. He received a PhD in History from Michigan State University (2019) and holds an MA in Nationalism Studies from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary (2012) and a BA in History from Williams College (2007).
Education, Islam, and the Making of Turkish Difference: Turkish Teachers and Imams in Postwar Germany
The project offers a history of the racialization of Turkish Muslims in the Federal Republic of Germany from the 1960s through the 2000s, focusing on the role of teachers and imams from Turkey who worked with what was the country’s largest migrant group by 1973. Teachers offered language courses to the children of so-called “guest workers” in German schools, whereas imams taught religious lessons and led prayers in mosques and Qur’an courses. In these capacities both provided information for audiences in two countries about Turks in the Federal Republic on culture, Islam, and racialized difference. They did not just produce knowledge, but were called to act upon this knowledge, providing interventions based on what German or Turkish officials deemed to be the needs of the Turkish German population. This position at the intersection of producing and applying knowledge and of the interests of two states makes teachers and imams uniquely valuable subjects in a history of the transnational politics of knowledge about race and Islam. Tracing this history offers insights into the contested and contingent racialization of Islam in Western Europe, the entangling of Turkish and German secular regimes, and transnational attachments encouraged and fostered by sending and receiving states in concert.
Julissa Ventura, Marquette University
Dr. Julissa Ventura is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Policy & Leadership in the College of Education at Marquette University. Her research sits at the intersections of community-based education, critical youth studies, and Latinx education. As a community-based researcher, Dr. Ventura creates collaborative research partnerships with those directly affected by the issues of educational inequality she wishes to study and address; these have included Latinx high school students, paraeducators, youth workers, and most recently community school coordinators. Through critical ethnography and participatory methods, Dr. Ventura’s research has examined how community educators create nourishing environments, inside and outside of schools, where youth can exercise their voice and become actors of change. Through collaboration with community educators and youth, she prioritizes relationship-building and centers community knowledge in co-creating spaces and practices of possibility for educational equity. In addition to her academic work, Dr. Ventura is actively involved in community and campus initiatives aimed at promoting social justice and equity for students of color.
Dr. Ventura’s scholarship has been published in several academic journals including, Harvard Educational Review, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, and the Association of Mexican American Educators (AMAE) Journal. Before her current position at Marquette University, she was a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Colorado-Boulder, School of Education. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her B.A. in Educational Studies and Political Science at Swarthmore College.
Moving Towards Transformative Student Voice in Community Schools
As the community school model is adopted by more school districts, particularly urban school districts, questions arise about how community schools are enacting their mission to be a more democratic and community-centered education reform. One of the key community school strategies is shared leadership, which researchers have found is an important structure that contributes to improved academic outcomes seen so far in community schools (Oakes, et al., 2017). Through an ethnographic case study approach with 3 focal schools in Wisconsin, this study explores shared leadership in relation to student voice and leadership. Specifically, the project examines how community schools can support youth in meaningfully contributing to the decision-making and transformational change in their schools. While collaboration with community partners and families has been part of the community schools research, less attention has been given to the role that students can play in advancing the goals of community schools. Thus, this study aims to fill this gap by looking at how community schools can create spaces for transformative student voice through youth councils that are part of shared leadership at the K-5, K-8, and high school levels. Moreover, the findings from this project will make important contributions to the understanding of community school structures and practices that work against inequalities in our schools.
Chanelle Wilson, Bryn Mawr College
Chanelle Wilson is currently an Assistant Professor of Education in the Bryn Mawr/Haverford Colleges Education Studies Department and the Director of Africana Studies at Bryn Mawr College. Dr. Wilson has served as a public school practitioner, teaching secondary education students, in the United States and around the world. Her current scholarship focuses on race and anti-racism in education, decolonization of schools and the mind, students as teachers and learners, culturally relevant pedagogy in international schooling contexts, and developing holistic models of teacher preparation for liberation. Dr. Wilson has a passion for using research to improve the educational experiences of marginalized groups, promoting equity and critical race-focused conversations.
Dr. Wilson is the author of multiple scholarly journal publications, book chapters, and has presented over 25 papers at research conferences, domestic and international. She has collaborated with colleagues to inform policy and practice briefs, co-authored an edited volume, delivered invited keynotes, professional development series, and training programs for a spectrum of age groups and a variety of contexts and communities.
Dr. Wilson is committed to social and racial justice. She enjoys supporting people from diverse backgrounds to engage with concepts of race, colonialism, and justice, encouraging self-introspection for outer transformation. Dr. Wilson completed her undergraduate studies in Secondary Education and English, at Rowan University. She earned a Master of Education at Temple University and collected data for her master’s thesis while completing a Fulbright, in South Africa. She earned a doctoral degree in Education Leadership, at the University of Delaware.
Does Anti-racist Teacher Preparation Endure?: Revisiting the Development of Racial Literacy in Undergraduate Teacher Preparation Five Years Out
The transition from undergraduate teacher preparation to in-service teaching practice is an important area of focus in the overall research on teacher development. Many formal public schooling institutions in the United States replicate oppressive social structures, hierarchies, and inequities, including racism. Specifically, the field needs more insight into the process of developing and solidifying an identity as a teacher for racial justice—an identity that must endure through challenging and even hostile contexts. This study prioritizes learning from (1) the perspectives of in-service teachers who participated in race inquiry groups during their student teaching and (2) their professional trajectories in implementing race-conscious practices during their first years of teaching. Critical Race Praxis and Racial Literacy, offer a powerful theoretical guide for the praxis work of in-service teachers that is the focus of this study, bringing together an argument for an understanding of racism with a focus on practices that can counter and begin to dismantle racist systems in education. Using qualitative methods, former teacher candidates, now in-service teachers, will be guided to reflect on their journey in education to be racially-literate educators through storytelling narratives. The approach to research includes a co-constructive, participatory process that engages teacher participants as co-researchers. Insights gained from this study will provide a window into what former pre-service teachers navigate after they graduate and how they undertake the journey of implementing racial literacy skills and teaching for racial justice.