The Intersecting Influences of Policy, Sociopolitical Dynamics, and Preparation Programs in Enabling or Stifling Culturally Sustaining and Relevant Education
Laura Hernández

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Research Development Award

Award Year



Learning Policy Institute

Primary Discipline

Educational Policy
The Intersecting Influences of Policy, Sociopolitical Dynamics, and Preparation Programs in Enabling or Stifling Culturally Sustaining and Relevant Education Interdisciplinary researchers have consistently shed light on the importance of culturally sustaining and relevant education (CSRE) in supporting youth learning and well-being. They demonstrate how CSRE approaches, which include integrating culturally-connected instructional tasks, cultivating an ?ethic of caring? in learning settings, and/or instituting structures that promote student voice, embody what is collectively known about how individuals optimally develop. These approaches enhance learning as educators integrate pedagogies that acknowledge students? experiences, nurture their assets, and build on their ?funds of knowledge.? They also cultivate supportive learning environments that foster engagement, emotional security, and sense of agency while embracing cultural pluralism and communitarian aims. Developing educators that can substantively and non-performatively enact CSRE requires attention to the structure and scope of pre-service preparation programs and how they support or inhibit educator candidates in developing related skills, knowledge, and mindsets. At the same time, scholars have surfaced how strong preparation alone may be insufficient in growing and sustaining CSRE in schools, particularly in the face of sociopolitical dynamics that thwart CSRE and/or discriminatory structures and ideologies that perpetuate inequitable schooling approaches. This multi-site qualitative study represents a unique empirical exploration into the intersection of policy, politics, and preparation. It investigates how pre-service development and overlaying policy and sociopolitical factors can be understood, navigated, and/or improved to grow educator capacity and support the implementation of CSRE and the achievement, equity, and well-being it can propel.
About Laura Hernández
Laura E. Hernández is a Senior Researcher at the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) where she specializes in designing and conducting qualitative research on whole child educational approaches and the systems and structures that enable them. By training, she is an interdisciplinary scholar who synthesizes political and sociological theories to investigate educational policies and the factors that affect the equitable and democratic character of their implementation. To date, her work has examined the systems, factors, and processes surrounding a range of reforms, including school choice, community schools, deeper learning school design, and relationship-centered schooling initiatives. For her research, Hernández has received many honors, including being named a 2016-2017 National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellow and awarded AERA?s Division A Outstanding Dissertation Award in 2018. Her work has appeared in scholarly journals such as the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Policy, Urban Education, and Teachers College Record, and she has authored numerous research and policy reports based on her research at LPI. Hernández holds a PhD in Education Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, an MST from Pace University in New York City, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research work is also informed and inspired by her nine years as a classroom teacher in New York City and Los Angeles where she worked in traditional public school and charter settings.

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