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Education Policy and Social Analysis
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Education Policy and Social Analysis

News from EPSA

Travis Bristol, Ph.D. 2014 in Education Policy featured in the Washington Post article

Black Male Teachers: There aren't enough of them by Valerie Strauss, was published in the Washington Post on April 28 in the Answer Sheet section. Published: 4/29/2015 4:54:00 PM

EPSA Announces the Winners of 2015-2016 Education Policy Dissertation Research Fellowships

EPSA department congratulates all the winners. Published: 4/27/2015 3:50:00 PM

Basil Smikle, Ph.D. in P&E, the new executive director of the NYS Democratic Party

On April 9, former New York State Governor David Paterson, the chairman of the NYS Democratic Party, announced that Basil Smikle Jr. would become the new executive director of the party. Published: 4/17/2015 1:24:00 PM

Aaron Pallas Quoted in Articles on the Future of Teacher Evaluations in NY State

Professor Aaron Pallas was quoted in articles in Chalkbeat and NYC Lens about the handling of teachers' evaluations in the just-passed NY State budget. Published: 4/8/2015 4:24:00 PM

Aaron Pallas on Chancellor Tisch's Empty Rhetoric on 'Opting Out'

In an article he wrote for The Hechinger Report, an independent news website based at TC, Professor Aaron Pallas challenged NYS Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch's assertion that opting out of testing is a "terrible mistake." Published: 4/8/2015 4:15:00 PM

EPSA Alumni Terrenda White and Travis Bristol Featured in Education Week

An Education Week article on "The Teachers of Color Disappearance Crisis" featured responses from 2014 alumni Travis Bristol (PhD, Education Policy) and Terrenda White (PhD, Sociology & Education). Published: 4/2/2015 4:12:00 PM

Luis Huerta on Houston Public Radio: "Vouchers Don't Always Increase Access"

Luis Huerta, Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy, is quoted in a Houston Public Media radio story about school voucher proposals in Texas. Huerta, who has researched vouchers and charter schools, says that vouchers, which would make state allocations for public school portable to private institutions, don't always lead to greater access to private schools."Private organizations, specifically private schools, have the ability to choose whomever they want to enter into those schools," he said.Huerta debunked another claim about vouchers -'" that students perform better in private schools. In fact, he said research indicates that after students transfer to a private school, they often perform about the same as their peers back in public school -'" or even worse. And it's impossible to hold private schools accountable for students' education, even if they receive public dollars.He's planning to testify at a Texas Senate senate hearing Thursday. Published: 3/27/2015 12:26:00 PM

Basil Smikle's "Solving Minority Underrepresentation in STEM Careers." The Hill, March 6, 2015

Basil Smikle, a Ph.D. candidate in the Politics & Education Program and a contributor to The Hill, a US political website, gives an overview of the recent history and also the current representation of women and minorities in STEM careers. Published: 3/6/2015 11:57:00 AM

Amy Stuart Wells: "Colorblind" Policies Harm Our Diverse Public Schools

A policy brief by Amy Stuart Wells explains how so-called “colorblind” educational policies fail to support the diverse public schools more parents are demanding.

So-called “colorblind” educational policies not only fail to address racial inequality in American classrooms, they worsen and perpetuate it, according to an evidence-based policy brief by TC’s Amy Stuart Wells, professor of Sociology and Education. The brief, recently published by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, concludes that education reforms that ignore racial differences and disparities have worsened, rather than corrected, racial inequalities in student access to high-quality schooling.

In Seeing Past the “Colorblind” Myth of Education Policy: Why Policymakers Should Address Racial/Ethnic Inequality and Support Culturally Diverse Schools, Wells describes “mounting evidence to suggest that so-called ‘colorblind’ accountability and school choice policies, premised on narrow definitions of school quality and absent interventions to support diversity, exacerbate racial and social class segregation and inequality.”

Wells, who is also the Director of the Center for Understanding Race and Education (CURE) at TC, concludes that the most popular education policies of the last 30 years – namely, school choice policies and strict accountability systems – rarely consider race, diversity, or the dramatic racial and ethnic demographic shifts taking place in the public school population. As a result, she argues, these policies advance an ineffective “colorblind” approach to educational reform that ignores stark racial inequality when implementing policies and then bemoans vivid racial inequalities in educational outcomes.

The policy brief raises serious concerns about the capacity of the current education policy agenda to promote racial equality and prepare children for the 21st century. The U.S. Department of Education’s enrollment data suggest that by this fall the public school student population will be less than 50 percent white, non-Hispanic for the first time in U.S. history.  On March 21, the Department’s Civil Rights division released another report finding that minority students are more likely to be suspended from schools – including from preschools – and have less access in general to preschool, advanced courses and college counselors.
 
Meanwhile, Wells writes, ostensibly colorblind policies fail to support the multiple “educational benefits” of diverse universities, schools and classrooms.  Such benefits include lessening stereotypes while supporting better-informed class discussions, greater cross-racial understanding, and preparation to succeed in an increasingly diverse society. At the same time, a growing number of parents are seeking such diverse and dynamic educational settings for their children.

Wells notes that the Civil Rights era of the 1960s and 1970s saw several race-conscious education policies, including affirmative action and school desegregation, which directly addressed racial inequality. The same period, she writes, “coincided with the largest reductions in the black-white achievement gap in the nation’s history.”

By contrast, in perpetuating segregation of all kinds, contemporary “colorblind” policies “are also at odds with a multi-racial and ethnic society in which a growing number of parents and educators see the potential educational benefits of paying attention to diversity and difference as a pedagogical tool.” Racial achievement gaps, Wells contends, can only be closed “if policymakers are not blind to the role that race plays in our educational system.” She argues that education inequalities must be proactively addressed with a new set of 21st century policies that embrace diversity and support diverse schools.

Wells offers a series of recommendations that address policies, practices and conditions that perpetuate segregation and inequality while simultaneously tapping into the changing racial attitudes of Americans. Educational benefits can accrue to all students in schools and classrooms that are diverse.

The report was made possible in part by funding from the Ford Foundation.

To read the full report by Amy Stuart Wells please visit http://bit.ly/1hOfazi.


(4/1/2014)

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