Tag Archives: Brown University UEP Program

Recap of Travis Bristol, “Policy Levers for Increasing the Ethnoracial Diversity of Teachers in Urban Public Schools”

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Our Brown Education Department Spring 2018 Speaker Series kicked off in February with Dr. Travis Bristol, Peter Paul Assistant Professor at the Boston University School of Education, presenting “Policy Levers for Increasing the Ethnoracial Diversity of Teachers in Urban Public Schools.” Bristol’s combination of research, policy and practice, particularly on the intersection of race and gender in schools, was topical for Brown’s UEP and MAT graduate students.

Bristol had become inspired to be a teacher as a student at Washington Irving High School in New York, where he’d begin his day passing through grim metal detectors, wondering if there was an effect on how people learned when they were made to feel as if they were policed. Bristol later created an afterschool program in response to a disproportionate amount of suspensions for Black male students. In the program, these overly policed students met with men of color, fostering relationships with people who looked like them, encouraged them, and stayed in touch with them. The result: students became more engaged in class.

But there’s a glaring student-teacher ethnoracial mismatch in U.S. public schools, Bristol reported. In 2014, less than 2% of U.S. teachers were Black males, even after U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan’s 2011 “Calling Black Men to the Blackboard” initiative. More recruitment attempts have targeted Black male teachers in recent years, such as Boston Public Schools’ 2014 launch of the Male Educators of Color Executive Coaching Seminar Series, but Black male teachers also leave their positions at a higher rate than their counterparts. Why?

Bristol3Bristol researched this issue in part by interviewing 27 Black male teachers across 14 schools in Boston. His data aligned with other findings: that workers in the majority create conditions that challenge minorities. Role encapsulation (tasks that appear to be assigned based on a social identity, such as placing Black males in the role of behavior managers rather than teachers) and  administrative perception that Black males are intellectually inferior, leading to a lack of respect for their opinions and a distance from inviting them into other spaces, affect how Black male teachers feel and are viewed, making their work more challenging than for their colleagues. Black male teachers feel called to teaching because kids lack Black male role models, but they also feel more feared and less supported than their non-Black or non-male counterparts — especially when they are the only Black male teachers in their schools. Some reported feeling expected by leaders to run schools like prisons, making it difficult to keep the work meaningful and engaging. Hiring discrimination prevents some Black male teachers from even getting into schools. Those who do tend to lack differentiated professional development and a safe space to talk candidly about preparation. How can we retain and support Black male teachers?

Research shows that socio-emotional teaching does matter, Bristol stated; creating a positive environment increases learning and long-term outcomes. There is added value when students of color are taught by teachers of color. Research shows that Black students who had at least one Black teacher were significantly less likely to drop out of school and more likely to aspire to attend college, as well as showing improved performance on standardized tests.

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Bristol, a former high school English teacher and clinical teacher educator with the Boston Teacher Residency program, employed a popular classroom technique, “turn and talk,” to immerse Brown University audience members in discussing whether we’re in a situation where we need Latino teachers teaching Latino students or White teachers teaching White students. When reporting out on their conversations, audience members listed disparities in resources among schools and districts, the importance of diversity in and outside of classrooms, and the importance of engaging, rather than punishing, students of color. In response to an audience member’s question about what states outside of Massachusetts and New York are doing about this issue, Bristol stated that nine U.S. states have signed up on an initiative aiming to match teachers of color to students of color by 2060.

Bristol briefly presented on other hopeful initiatives, including NYC Men Teach, which aims to recruit an additional 1,000 Black male teachers into New York schools; the Relay Graduate School of Education, an alternative school leader program that helps design professional development for Black male teachers; LA Unified, whose district work includes teacher of color recruitment, support, and retention campaigns; the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development, which documents school-based experiences for ethnic minority teachers across 35 member countries; and Pathways to Teaching, a longer-term investment that gives high schoolers teaching experience in exchange for college credit.

Bristol6Brown University is redesigning its teacher education program, Bristol was informed. What should that redesign include to keep the content rigorous and yet address the diversity pipeline? That pipeline starts in K-12, Bristol responded, and people of color get lost in it much earlier than when they apply to an MAT program. When schools discipline first and teach second, when students of color are expelled, those students are lost before they can ever decide to teach. For those who do pursue teacher education, Bristol suggested, the best thing Brown can do is to recognize that cost for teacher education programs matter. Find the finances to help more people of color afford to pursue teacher education.

A last question asked about additional barriers to the pipeline, and Bristol noted that biases in tests such as the MCAS and the Praxis exams can affect the self-esteem of exam takers. Passing a test can’t guarantee an ability to increase learning for students. Rhode Island’s Commissions of Education, Ken Wagner, spoke up from the audience, stating that he’d been present at meetings in which national leaders are trying to break down barriers and examine other performance measurements beyond tests, such as cultural competency. The edTPA (formerly the Teacher Performance Assessment) provides a multiple-measure assessment system aligned to state and national standards that can guide the development of curriculum and practice around the common goal of making sure new teachers can teach effectively and improve student achievement.

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L to R: David Rangel, Travis Bristol, Kenneth Wong, and Andrea Flores

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A Day in the Life of a UEP Student: Meet Katie

“My name is Katie Rieser, and I come to UEP after ten years in education — 7 as a teacher and 3 as a Director of Curriculum at a school. So far, it’s been a thrill to dive back into UEP after many years spent outside of higher education, so I’m pleased to share a day in my life with you.

“Every day in UEP is slightly different, as the program prepares us for work analyzing data, writing policy papers, working in education reform organizations, and, of course, going to class.

“Since the days in my week are so different, I’ll use a typical Wednesday to share with you. On any given Wednesday, I wake up around 6:30 in the morning, make myself a glass of tea, and quickly scan my email for anything important that may have popped up overnight. Then, I jump into my car and drive to Central Falls, RI, for my internship at The Learning Community Charter Schools. My office in the charter school is deep in the weeds of starting a new graduate school of education in Rhode Island, the first to be affiliated with a full time working elementary school. At The Learning Community, I analyze data, conduct research on best practices in teacher education, and contribute where I can in meetings.

“At around noon, I jump back in my car and drive home, where I usually pack a quick lunch and snacks for my afternoon classes. I then hop on my bicycle (if the weather is nice) and head down Hope St. to Brown. I take two classes on Wednesdays: a theoretical sociology class about race and ethnicity, and a required UEP statistics course. Both classes are helping me to shape the way I think about my internship, and my work beyond UEP. After so many years ‘in the field’, my courses have been a welcome chance for me to think deeply about the daily work that I do and fill out my understanding of my work with more concrete knowledge and sources. Although my professors are quite different, they are similar in their openness to students; they’ve been so encouraging and supportive of my work.

“Typically, my classes on Wednesdays end around 6:30 PM, making for a long and eventful day (and a typical one in the education sector). I then hop back on my bike and head home, where I have dinner with my wife, read or watch some TV, and head to bed.  

“On other days of the week, you can find me studying in the graduate student section of the library, collaborating on group projects with members of my cohort, chatting with my professors in office hours, at home writing papers, or working at my part-time job in Boston as a Lecturer of English Methods for new teachers at Harvard Graduate School of Education. I can honestly say that, as a mid-career professional, the UEP masters program has been a really wonderful chance to explore and expand my current thinking and skillsets. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions–UEP ambassadors can put you in touch!”

A Day in the Life of a UEP Student: Meet Melitzi

“Happy Friday, everyone! My name is Melitzi Torres and I am a current UEP graduate student at Brown. I was asked to share what a day in my life is like as a UEP student. Before I dive into that, I want to share a little about who I am and what brought me to this master’s program.

“I am a first-generation Latina college student, I go by the pronouns she/her/hers, and I love spending time with people I love. I grew up in Rhode Island, graduated from Brown (undergrad) in 2015, taught second grade for two years, and came back to Brown this past summer as a full-time graduate student. As a product of a public school system, as a first-gen Latina, as a former teacher, and as an advocate for educational equity, I knew I needed to be working in policy to make the difference I wanted to make. In undergrad, I had the opportunity to intern for a policy research and advocacy group, Rhode Island’s  senate policy office, and a community partnership organization. These internships, along with my experience as a teacher, really fueled my drive to head into policy. After bouncing back and forth between three other master’s programs and the UEP program, I knew Brown was where my heart is. There’s truly no other place like Brown. #evertrue

“So much has changed from my life as a teacher. Part of the UEP experience is taking on an internship that would help prepare you for a future job placement. I am currently interning as a data analyst for the Gil and Jacki Cisneros Foundation in Los Angeles, CA. Through working remotely, I have learned that time management and clear communication are key to success in a position like mine. On any given weekday, I’ll wake up, drink my coffee #frenchpress while catching up on social media, and then I dive into work for a couple of hours before class. UEP classes are in the afternoon so I have the mornings to get work done for my internship and classes. Depending on how much work I have, I usually like to relax after class and explore Providence with friends.

I hope this has been helpful to you as you decide on a master’s program. Please feel free to reach out with any questions–I’m one of the program’s ambassadors so I’m actually here to help in any way I can! You can reach me at: melitzi_torres@brown.edu or on any social media platform @melitzitorres”

PPSD Superintendent Addresses UEP XII Cohort

On Wednesday, June 28, our 12th Brown University Urban Education Policy cohort gathered at the Providence Biltmore for a UEP dinner featuring keynote remarks by Providence Public School District Superintendent Chris Maher.

lovely view from the UEP dinner at Providence Biltmore

UEP Program Director Kenneth Wong

Superintendent Maher provided a candid overview of the state of Providence public schools Continue reading

UEP Alumna Branta Lockett ’16 in BEST Program

Branta Lockett

Branta Lockett

The Brown Education Department would like to share an interview given to the Brown Graduate School by Branta Lockett, AM ’16, about her experience in the Brown Executive Scholars Training (BEST) program. BEST, established in 2010, is designed to expose doctoral and advanced master’s degree students to careers in higher education administration. Every fall, eight to 10 graduate students are chosen to participate in this 12-week mentored, education and training program, which is sponsored by the Graduate School and the Office of Institutional Diversity.

 

How did you hear about the BEST program? What made you want to apply?
I initially heard about the BEST program while attending Admit Day in March 2016. During this event Dr. Wong, Chair of the Education department, mentioned that several of the Urban Education Policy students participated in the BEST program and had great experiences. I decided to apply to the BEST program because I wanted to learn more about higher education administration. In particular, I wanted to learn how administrators can use their positions to help create environments that support the success of marginalized students at a university.

How has or how will this program help you in your career or studies after Brown?
This program will help me in my career because it exposed me to different leadership styles. I learned practical skills that I can use in professional settings.

Did you already have a career plan in mind? Has this program influenced you in any way to change/alter it?
Before participating in the BEST program, I considered a career in higher education administration. The BEST program convinced me to continue pursuing my interests in higher education administration and to even start looking for jobs that combine higher education administration with education policy, which is what I studied at Brown.

Who was your administrative sponsor and what did you learn or enjoy about working with him or her?
Dr. Gail Cohee was my administrative sponsor. I enjoyed speaking with her about her position [as Director of the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center and Associate Dean of the College] and how she uses her administrative role to help improve the experiences of students at Brown University. I also enjoyed learning about her career path to becoming a senior administrator.

What piece of advice provided by the speakers resonated most with you?
Dr. Liza Cariaga-Lo, Vice President for Academic Development, Diversity and Inclusion, gave us great advice for how to manage encounters with students and faculty who are upset or distressed about a given situation. She explained to us that the person is most likely upset because they are really passionate about the situation. Therefore, it is important to not only listen to their concerns but to really try to understand their perspectives and consider those perspectives as you try to help them resolve their concerns. Administrative work is demanding but it is important to honor how others feel and let them know that you care while also remembering not to take their criticisms personally. This is practical advice that is useful for working with people in any setting. 

UEP Student Internship Intertwines with White House

bidensUrban Education Policy graduate student Madalyn Ciampi’s internship with Civic Nation has opened new doors for her – most recently, the doors to the home of Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.

Civic Nation’s College Promise Campaign, which builds public support for making community college free of tuition and fees for students, intertwines with the White House, as the campaign stems from President Obama’s America’s Promise initiative.

Last week, Ciampi helped host a three-day “PromiseNet 2016” conference in Washington, D.C. as part of her internship. On the last day of the conference, she and her colleagues hosted a convening at the White House, and Dr. Jill Biden, the honorary chair of the campaign’s National Advisory Board, invited the group to a luncheon at her and the Vice President’s home before they returned to the White House for the National Advisory Board meeting.

When asked how her internship and passion for Civic Nation ties into her graduate studies at Brown University, Ciampi responded,

“I think that one of the most valuable components of the internship so far has been seeing the behind-the-scenes, hands-on aspect of education policy, which I feel really complements the classroom-based learning in UEP. The campaign is working to build public support, and this also involves promoting economic implications of making college accessible and affordable, to incentive governmental stakeholders, businesses, etc. to back the movement. I’ve also found the conversation around the importance of research in moving the College Promise forward to be really interesting, given that this is a huge component of UEP. In this respect I feel that the courses in the UEP program have prepared me to be much more well-versed in the work that I’m doing in my internship.

The internship component of my education has already benefited me greatly, and I am looking forward to seeing how it may continue to complement and build upon my classroom learning!”