Q&A with Professors Flores and Rangel

While working on this year’s UEP newsletters, our UEP student ambassadors had an opportunity to pose questions to our two newest faculty members about their research and teaching. Meet Assistant Professor of Education Andrea Flores and Assistant Professor of Education David Rangel!

 

Andrea-Flores

Andrea Flores

SAs: “How does your work inform the efforts to reshape public education?”

 

AF: “Broadly, ethnographic educational research is a window into how the reshaping of public education affects the lives of students, teachers, and families. My research–focused on Latino youth who participate in a nonprofit college access program and their transitions out of high school  in Nashville, Tennessee–demonstrates how youth experience this process, their motivation to persist in school, and the challenges they face in both their low-performing schools and in this successful intervention. Thus, my research informs policy and school reform by documenting the everyday experience of the public educational system, its failings, and its opportunities to aid students. Theoretically, I examine how third sector outsourcing of school-based services creates a tiered and privatized system of college access. Additionally, my work explores the roadblocks facing undocumented students’ college access, e.g  the inability to apply for federal and state-based financial aid and these students’ exclusion from certain public higher educational institutions.”

SAs: “What is the biggest takeaway you want students to have from your courses?”

AF: “Of course, each class I teach has different thematic and content-based takeaways. Universally, I hope students leave my classes with an appreciation for qualitative and ethnographic research’s contribution to our understanding of the individual lives affected by policy and its intended and unintended consequences.”

David-Rangel-cropped

David Rangel

SAs: “How can a social inequality lens be applied and make positive changes in education policy?”

 

DR: “Understanding social processes that contribute to educational inequality is at the heart of a sociological lens applied to education. Social inequities are the result of processes that are often taken for granted or are largely unexamined because they are features of social structures or institutions. A sociological lens attends specifically to the interplay between institutions and individuals, or in the case of education, the impact of schools and schooling processes on students. For education policy to make positive impacts, it is necessary to understand first, sources of inequality, and second, possible points of intervention. Thus, a sociological lens helps us identify structural determinants of educational inequality and also provides insights into how and where educational policy can best intervene on these processes.”

SAs: “What do you hope for students to gain from your course, as they go into the field of education and policy?”

DR: “My course is designed with a few objectives in mind. First, I want students to be able to identify and articulate issues in education that sociologist study, and what sociology contributes to our understanding of these issues. Second, I want students to think critically about educational processes and structures, how these processes and structures deferentially impact students’ experiences and outcomes, and the broader societal implications of these differential impacts. Finally, students will write a brief policy report on an educational topic of their choosing that blends theoretical and practical insights from class toward some policy end. In mastering these objectives, I hope students will walk away from my class with a better understanding of how schools as institutions work and potential ways to ameliorate disadvantage.”
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