TC and its people move to online teaching and learning in record time; procure protective medical gear for hospitals in New York and other cities; mobilize against the police killings of unarmed Black Americans; introduce a new teaching game to promote media literacy; hold the College’s first-ever online Convocation; launch a new career development center; co-create a university-wide coalition against gun violence; and partner with the U.S. Army to apply spirituality to mental health.
IN STEP State Assemblyman Michael Benedetto (addressing students and advocacy group members) said he was “proud to stand with the WELL Campaign" organized by TC's Tisch Food Center. (Photo: The Tisch Food Center)
MAPPING AN EXPERIENCE A student at Medgar Evers Preparatory School in Brooklyn studies materials for the African Diaspora AP course co-developed by TC. (Photo: Bruce Gilbert)
WEST 120TH CONTINGENT Clockwise from top left: Michael Rebell, Aaron Pallas, Merryl Tisch, Matt Gonzales, Thomas Rogers, Carol Burris and Diane Ravitch
The WELL Campaign, a statewide coalition to prioritize New York State students’ health and well-being, rallies with students, advocates and elected officials at an Advocacy Day in Albany. Initiated by the leaders of Teachers College’s Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, the WELL Campaign urges creation of a model wellness policy to share with schools and investment of $21 million to support high-needs districts. One in five students statewide has a serious mental illness, one in six struggles with hunger and one in three is overweight or obese.
A Time magazine story on Black History Month and the nationwide Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action highlights the Advanced Placement (AP) pilot seminar on the African Diaspora developed in significant part at TC’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME). Hailed as an example of a new national focus on giving students perspectives on Black experiences worldwide, the seminar is the first AP course devoted to a part of global history for the most part obscured by the Eurocentric view found in most textbooks.
City & State New York’s 2020 “Education Power 100” rankings of the most influential education leaders includes TC’s Aaron Pallas, Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology & Education, and Michael Rebell, Professor of Law & Educational Practice. Alumni listed are: Carol Burris (Ed.D. ’00), Executive Director of the Network for Public Education; Matt Gonzales (M.A. ’16), Director of the Integration and Innovation Initiative at the New York University Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools; Diane Ravitch (Ph.D. ’75), Research Professor of Education at New York University and President of the Network for Public Education; Thomas Rogers (Ed.D. ’06), Superintendent, Syosset Central School District; and Merryl Tisch (Ed.D. ’05), Chair of the State University of New York Board of Trustees.
SHOW AND TELL Professor Oren Pizmony-Levy (left) hosted Meredith McDermott, Director, and Thaddeus T. Copeland, Associate Director, of the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Sustainability, at Pizmony-Levy’s class on “Introduction to Environmental and Sustainability Education,” in February. (Photo courtesy of Oren Pizmony-Levy)
SPEAKING TRUTHFULLY Faculty member Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz creates poems with "truth and rage," writes reviewer Jacqueline Woodson. (Photo: TC Archives)
URGING REMEMBRANCE Derrick Alridge of the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education and Human Development hails the legacy of activism by Southern teachers of color. (Photo: Susan Cook)
WANDERING WITH INTENT TC's Lambros Comitas worked on location in countries ranging from Jamaica to Russia, and tackled issues that included fishing cooperatives, disasters, and the use of marijuana. (Photo: Bruce Gilbert)
CLICK AND IT'S DONE TC moved all of its spring 2020 courses online in just nine days. (Photo: iStock)
EMBRACING THE MEDIUM Faculty at TC use digital teaching to do everything from critiquing local statuary to conducting speech therapy online.
TUNED IN A new website kept TC together during the pandemic.
GOING MANY EXTRA MILES The TC community stepped up to work with others during the pandemic in New York City and beyond.
BUT DOES IT HOLD WATER? Among the many fake news stories proliferating during the COVID crisis, the fable of dolphins returning to the canals of Venice has exerted particular public appeal. (Photo: iStock)
BACK TO THE GARDEN TC's Joan Gussow with her students at her home in Piermont, New York. (Photo: Maria Vullo)
RUMINATE ON THIS A game to help young news consumers avoid getting . . . LAMBOOZLED! (Photo: TC Archives)
GIVING CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE “You are saving lives,” former basketball star Shane Battier told Columbia medical staff. “I’m just a basketball player.” (Photo: David J. Phillip/AP)
THE TC IN OUR HEARTS AND MINDS The College’s first-ever online Convocation expressed hope, solidarity and a longing to be back on campus.
Meredith McDermott and Thaddeus T. Copeland, Director and Deputy Director, respectively, of Sustainability at the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), are guest speakers in a new TC class called “Introduction to Environmental and Sustainability Education,” created and taught by Oren Pizmony-Levy, Associate Professor of International & Comparative Education. TC is one of 40 organizations and agencies working with NYCDOE on sustainability issues.
Love from the Vortex & Other Poems, a new volume by TC’s Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz describes the kind of healing that can only occur by making oneself emotionally vulnerable — a strategy that Sealey-Ruiz, Associate Professor of English Education and Director of TC’s Racial Literacy Roundtable Series, also employs by inviting students to “bring their lives into the classroom” and in urging teachers to conduct “an archaeology of the self” in order to identify their own biases and beliefs.
In delivering TC’s annual Tisch Lecture, Derrick Alridge, Professor of Education at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education & Human Development, hails the legacy of activism by teachers of color across the American South. Black educators were “essential disseminators of the idea of freedom during the most consequential social movement of the 20th century,” says Alridge, Founding Director of the Curry School’s Center for Race and Public Education in the South.
Lambros Comitas, Gardner Cowles Professor of Anthropology & Education, passes away at 92. A leading authority on the Caribbean, Comitas helped shift his field’s focus from primitive peoples to communities in industrial societies, shaping an applied anthropology that aids other disciplines and addresses societal issues of the day. A former student and colleague of Margaret Mead’s who spent 76 years at Columbia and TC, Comitas founded TC’s Joint Program in Applied Anthropology, which has dispatched graduates to a range of fields. Support the Anthropology Research Fund in Honor of Lambros Comitas, established in 1992 by friends, colleagues and former students, with additional funding from the Estate of Glenn L. Hendricks (Ed.D. ’02).
Citing “an unprecedented moment in local, national, and global public health, and for institutions of higher education,” TC President Thomas Bailey announces that all classes have moved online and will be taught virtually throughout the Spring 2020 term. “We continue to respond to evolving information about the COVID-19 pandemic in such a way that preserves our institutional mission to the greatest extent possible while prioritizing the health of all within our community and around us,” Bailey writes to the broader TC community. The College also announces that all employees who are able will work remotely during the same period and suspends all work-related travel.
During a nine-day period, Veronica Thomas, Interim Executive Director of what was then the Office of Digital Learning (ODL, now part of TC's Digital Futures Institute), and her five-member team transfer all 775 of TC’s spring course sections, taught by 519 professors, adjuncts, lecturers and instructors and serving 5,572 students, online. ODL subsequently assists faculty across the College in not just adapting to online teaching, but capitalizing on the full potential of the medium.
TC launches “The Digital File”, a series of stories on its website about innovative online teaching by faculty members at the College. Featured work in subsequent months includes teaching by faculty in areas as diverse as early childhood education, movement science, art education, intellectual disabilities, and diabetes education and management.
TC launches “Come Together Right Now . . . Virtually!”, a new website aimed at fostering a sense of community during the COVID crisis. The site provides critical information about COVID-19 and offers regular entertainment and other programming by and for members of the TC community. The site seeks to “preserve the closeness of our TC community, which is so critically important now, and to bring the richness and vitality of TC to everyone,” says TC President Thomas Bailey.
As New York City becomes the epicenter for the pandemic, TC faculty, students, staff, trustees and alumni arrange shipments of face masks to medical centers, work in intensive care units, distribute testing kits, help New York City schools and even develop new equipment to protect doctors performing surgery.
Dolphins frolicking in the once murky and overcrowded canals of Venice? Anthony Fauci leading a coup against President Donald Trump? The QAnon conspiracy? Fake news has been on the rise since the 2016 presidential election and is particularly dangerous during the COVID pandemic, but the academic field of media literacy is pushing back, and the TC Communication, Media and Learning Technologies Design program’s Ioana Literat (Assistant Professor) and Yoo Kyung Chang (Lecturer) are in the vanguard of that effort.
“Nutritional Ecology,” taught for the past several decades by Joan Gussow, Mary Swartz Rose Professor Emerita of Nutrition & Education, has been a touchstone course for generations of TC students. Each year, Gussow, called the matriarch of the eat-locally-think-globally food movement by The New York Times, brings her students to her home an hour north of New York City for a tour of her spectacular garden and a lecture on our planet’s uncertain future. Watch a video of this master class, “What on Earth: Feeding the Soil to Save the World,” produced for Earth Day 2020. Support the Nutrition Ecology Scholarship in honor of Joan Gussow.
Teachers College launches LAMBOOZLED!, an innovative new game to teach media literacy to middle and high school students. LAMBOOZLED!, which challenges discerning readers to spot fake news, was designed by the following faculty and students in TC’s Media & Social Change Lab (MASCLab): Ioana Literat, Assistant Professor of Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design; Yoo Kyung Chang, lecturer in the same program; Charlotte Price, a doctoral student in Instructional Technology & Media; and master’s degree students Daniel Ahn, Man Su, Weiying Zhu, Jonathan Gardner and Joey Eisman.
An NBA Star Turns Cheerleader
Former National Basketball Association star Shane Battier makes a surprise appearance on a teleconference with members of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. The talk by Battier was arranged by Teachers College’s Education for Persistence and Innovation Center (EPIC). “You guys are an inspiration to all of us,” Battier tells physicians, nurses and support staff after being introduced by EPIC Director Xiaodong Lin-Siegler, Professor of Cognitive Studies. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you for keeping our communities safe.”
At TC’s first-ever virtual Convocation, TC President Thomas Bailey ponders whether post-COVID America will be more equitable or simply perpetuate “the inequities, disparities and divisions that put everyone’s future at risk.” The answer, he tells graduates, “is up to you. We need you to illuminate the truth that we are all better off when we are all better off.”
Noting that “millions of children, college students and educators have found themselves, overnight, banished to a landscape of remote learning,” Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, recipient of TC’s Medal for Distinguished Service, nevertheless calls the COVID crisis “a tremendous opportunity to reinvent public education in a way that lives up to its most democratic ideals.”
And former U.S. Second Lady and long-time community college educator Jill Biden declares that, as parents wrestle with home schooling, the “creativity and grit” of teachers has “never been more needed, and, in that way, our voices have never been more powerful.”
Convocation 2020 includes remarks by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson, Columbia Journalism School professor Jelani Cobb and others. The graduates are also addressed by Amann Syed Ahmad, receiving her master’s degree in Curriculum & Teaching, Rachel Norman, receiving her master’s degree from the Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis (EPSA), and Woo Jung Amber Kim, receiving her master’s degree from the Department of International & Transcultural Studies (I&TS).
And a video collage revisits “the Teachers College in our hearts and minds.” “It’s the epicenter of education, health and psychology . . . but it’s also a coffee cart on West 120th Street,” says narrator Cally Waite, Associate Professor of History & Education. “It’s a speeding number 1 train. It’s the early morning sunlight over Morningside Park — and, at this uncertain moment, it’s a way of being in a complicated world. Teachers College is the stuff dreams are made of.”
"ANOTHER TIPPING POINT" The police killings of George Floyd and other unarmed Black Americans prompted more than 400 TC community members to gather online. (Photo: TC Archives)
CRITIQUING THE SYSTEM At TC's annual "Reimagining" event, participants probed schooling in which the odds are stacked against students of color. (Photo: TC Archives)
ENABLING FICTION TO TRANSCEND SPACE At TC's annual Literacy Unbound Summer Institute, teachers and students reimagine the short story collection Interpreter of Maladies.
MEETING OF THE MINDS Together, faculty member Aurélie Athan (left) and alumna Mary Edlow have fashioned a broad effort that combines research, professional development and educating the public. (Photo: TC Archives)
MAKING IT A HABIT An online event reaffirmed civic engagement by aiding TC community members in writing letters to legislators top oppose the denial of visas for international students. (Photo: TC Archives)
THE HOPE ISN’T VIRTUAL TC’s Dean Hope Center for Educational & Psychological Services has been physically closed since March, but it continues to serve patients and train students online. (Photo: TC Archives)
REINING IN THE PARADE In past Julys, Hollingworth Science campers marched with their creations at the camp's conclusion, but this year the camp has gone virtual. (Photo: TC Archives)
BUILDING THE FOUNDATION The Hollingworth Preschool at TC has provided Yuto Hari and other youngsters with science experiments and other home learning activities. (Photo: Courtesy of the Hari family)
MIXED RECORD Panelists at TC award high marks to ordinary Americans for their resilience but warn of "the weakening of our democratic institutions." (Photo: TC Archives)
COMPLEX CHOICE Proponents have argued that private schools' freedom from oversight makes vouchers and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) the best way to optimize school choice and introduce competition that could induce public school systems to improve. Yet the latest studies show that academic performance among voucher and ESA students is trending lower. (Photo: iStock)
YOUNG PERSPECTIVES A drawing by Rita Gold Early Childhood Center student Hudson Hong. The Center has regularly monitored the well-being of students and their parents during the pandemic. (Photo: Courtesy of Hong family)
A TIME TO RETHINK The TC Tisch Food Center's Pamela Koch calls the current moment of upheaval an opportunity to rethink major issues in food and nutrition. (Photo: iStock)
IN THE THICK OF IT From superintendents to school psychologists, TC's people are key players in keeping America's schools running during the pandemic.
DOCUMENTING THE EXPERIENCE A TC Student Senate exhibition features artwork inspired by the social justice movement, including After the "It Happened Again" Text by Kamille Way (M.A., Design & Development of Digital Games)
CREATING "PATHWAYS TO FLOURISH" The College formally launches its revamped career development center, TC NEXT. (Photo: TC Archives)
INCOMING New faculty members (from left) Davinia Gregory, Amy E. Jones Haug and Matthew Zajic. (Photos: TC Archives)
Prompted by the police killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other unarmed Black Americans, more than 400 TC students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends convene for “A Virtual TC Gathering: Rallying Against Police Brutality and Systemic Racism.”
Associate Professor of English Education Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz notes that “these tragedies, these murders, have taken place when we are collectively sitting still, and that has forced many to pay attention to things that ail their fellow humans.” But, she adds, “If swift and adequate justice is not served, we will know America is not serious.”
Calling the killings “another tipping point in our history” that reflects “a broken America where dreams can be extinguished before they can be born,” TC Public Safety Officer Dennis Chambers (Ed.D. ’10, M.A. ’02, M.A. ’99) calls for repair of the nation’s “fractured public educational system” in order to foster greater understanding and knowledge.
Associate Professor of Education Leadership Sonya Douglass Horsford calls attention to “what James Baldwin conceptualized as the ‘white gaze,’” which, she says, “remains detached from the racial realities of growing up Black in America, where innocent Black children and youth are murdered at the hands of law enforcement without consequence, and controversial is the declaration that ‘Black lives matter.’”
Janice Robinson, TC’s Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs, concludes the event by recalling the death of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old African American boy lynched in Mississippi in 1955.
“We keep calling the names over and over of our murdered Black men and women,” Robinson says. She calls on community members to take, each day, a minimum of eight minutes and 46 seconds — the length of time that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck — “to reflect on where we are and what actions we are taking with others.”
At TC’s fifth annual (and first virtual) Reimagining Education: Teaching, Learning and Leading for a Racially Just Society Summer Institute, more than 1,000 attendees tune in, from New York City to Cairo, Egypt.
Providing educators with professional development to better engage a public-school student population that is predominantly of color, this year’s Institute reflects the context of COVID and the recent police killings of George Floyd and other Black Americans.
Educators must “give ourselves and our students new stories that uncover the brilliance they exhibited as babies,” says Lisa Delpit, MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, author of the landmark 1995 book Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom, and the Felton G. Clark Distinguished Professor of Education at Southern University and A&M College, in a keynote address titled “The Stories We Tell and the Fire This Time.”
And in pondering remedies for a school system in which the odds are stacked against students of color, TC alumna Jamila Lyiscott, author of Black Appetite. White Food. Issues of Race, Voice and Justice Within and Beyond the Classroom (Routledge 2019), takes a page from Floyd’s family, who conducted their own autopsy to counter official efforts to obscure how and why he died.
“So what would happen,” asks Lyiscott, Assistant Professor of Social Justice Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Senior Research Fellow at TC’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education, “if we conducted an independent autopsy of our schools? On the disparate attendance and achievement rates? What would we find and who would be responsible?”
At TC’s Literacy Unbound Summer Institute, which normally brings high school teachers and students to campus to create multimedia stage adaptations of great literary works, participants work virtually to produce short films inspired by Interpreter of Maladies, the Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection by Jhumpa Lahiri. “The whole point of fiction is to transport us into a world that transcends both digital space and physical space,” says Adele Bruni Ashley, Faculty Adviser at the College’s Center for Professional Education of Teachers (CPET) and Lecturer in TC’s Teaching of English program. “Our goal is that students, 10 or 15 years after they attended the Institute, will have an instantaneous reaction when they see the book they read because they know the text so deeply.”
A three-year, $610,000 gift from Dr. Mary Edlow (M.A. ’67) establishes TC’s Edlow Reproductive Literacy Project, reflecting Edlow’s vision of “every child a wanted child.” Edlow has previously funded TC’s Edlow Sex Education Initiative (SEI) to train New York City K–12 teachers who also serve as sex educators in schools. Led by psychology faculty members Aurélie M. Athan and Riddhi Sandil, the program aims to help youth explore their “reproductive identity formation” — a new paradigm introduced by Athan to frame questions of if, when and how people want to become parents, and how those goals are influenced by their families, their beliefs and their environmental contexts. The Edlow Reproductive Literacy Project aims to establish reproductive identity formation as a central focus in psychology and public health.
TC’s Advocacy Academy, led by Matthew J. Camp, TC’s Director of Government Relations and a doctoral student in the Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis, holds an online “letter-writing party” to help TC students, faculty, staff and alumni express to Congress the ways that graduate institutions contribute to the public good. The effort responds to new rules proposed by the Trump administration that would deny visas to international students if the U.S. institutions they attended were providing instruction entirely online.
As COVID shutters counseling and therapy clinics nationwide, TC’s Dean Hope Center for Educational & Psychological Services has moved operations online to continue serving low-income, minority patients in neighboring areas — often at reduced rates — and provide critical training for students in the College’s Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology. “Universities are often perceived by communities as changing the landscape of their neighborhoods without giving anything in return,” says Dean Hope Director Dinelia Rosa. “But our center shows how TC is giving back to our surrounding communities.”
TC’s Hollingworth Summer Science Camp — the other half of The Hollingworth Center, and a Morningside Heights fixture since 1981 — operates online. “The need for early science opportunities has never been more urgent,” Hollingworth Center Director Lisa Wright emails parents midway through the four-week July camp, which serves rising first graders through rising fifth graders. “The pandemic has illuminated the essential work of scientists on a daily basis, and science is what will get us to the other side of this.”
The American people have met COVID with resourcefulness and courage, say members of a panel discussion livestreamed by the student-facilitated TC Adult Learning & Leadership Network. But they agree with Victoria Marsick, Professor of Education and Co-Director of TC’s J.M. Huber Institute, that the pandemic has “shed light on the weakening of our democratic institutions, our democratic practices and the hypocrisy of some of our lofty goals.” Co-sponsored by TC’s Adult Learning & Leadership program (ALL) and the Office of Graduate Student Life & Development, the event is organized and moderated by ALL doctoral student Brian Ahn.
Parents’ demand for education vouchers and Education Saving Accounts (ESAs), through which government funds may pay for private school tuition, may be flagging, report TC’s Luis Huerta, Associate Professor of Education & Public Policy, and Kevin Welner of the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, in a webinar sponsored by Public Funds Public Schools and the Education Law Center. One reason, speculate Huerta and Welner: Private schools are not publicly regulated, and thus exempt from government standards on testing performance, teacher accreditation, instruction for special education students and other measures.
TC’s Rita Gold Early Childhood Center, which serves the children of faculty and staff, also moves online. Serving children as young as three months old, Onsite Associate Director Patrice Nichols and her staff prioritize family support and making the Center a continuing connection point for its community. In addition to whole-group activities, teachers schedule individual or small-group engagements with children or meet individually with parents to assist with questions about children’s development.
In her inaugural address as President of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), Pamela Koch, Executive Director of Teachers College’s Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy and Associate Professor in the College’s Program in Nutrition, envisions “a future for our field that takes on controversies” — for example, how the COVID pandemic and police violence against people of color are exacerbating racial inequities in food access and health, the fragility of food systems and the prevalence of ultra-processed foods. “Nutrition education gives people the power to demand healthy, just and sustainable food by disrupting the status quo,” Koch says.
TC’s Office of External Affairs launches “Schools vs. COVID,” a series of stories on education during the pandemic featuring TC faculty and staff experts, students and alumni who serve as superintendents, principals, teachers and school support staff on a range of issues, including reopening, remote teaching and learning, students’ emotional and psychological well-being, educational equity, assessment and emerging research.
Prompted by artist Kamille Way, a master’s degree student in TC’s program in Design & Development of Digital Games, the TC Student Senate creates the Black Lives Matter Digital Art Display, a virtual showcase of more than 30 pieces by poets, painters, musicians, digital filmmakers and others from the TC community that “center on the Black Lives Matter social justice movement and racial injustices” experienced by Black communities.
Prompted by TC President Thomas Bailey’s call to create “pathways for all to flourish,” the College formally launches its revamped career development center, TC NEXT (“NEXT” stands for “Navigating and Exploring for Tomorrow”), under the leadership of Ashley Pinakiewicz, a former career consultant and teacher dedicated to realizing the College’s vision of student-centered, holistic career and professional support. “Students are looking for a lifetime relationship,” says Thomas Rock, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, “so we need to build lifetime capabilities to not only help them land that first job, but also take action at different career phases so that their careers are sustainable.”
Three new faculty members add diverse, cutting-edge perspectives to TC’s intellectual mix.
Davinia Gregory, Assistant Professor of Arts Administration, is an interdisciplinary writer, researcher, educator and artist who publishes across edited volumes and journals in sociology, material culture, design history and urban studies. Her Ph.D. work (now in development as a book) was the first piece of research to fully document the closure, aftermath and legacy creation of a Black-led arts organization. Her global perspective and interactive, workshop-style teaching and assessment challenge the hierarchies and inequalities that the arts can either serve to sustain or disrupt.
Amy E. Jones Haug, Minority Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis, is a sociologist who draws on ethnographic and survey methodologies to understand “racial incorporation,” or how African Americans have gained access to the majority society over time. She is also collecting biometric data on the health consequences to individuals who do diversity-work.
Matthew Zajic, Assistant Professor of Intellectual Disabilities/Autism, focuses on understanding and supporting the writing development of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with specific interests in theory, measurement and instruction. His interdisciplinary research considers intersections between the linguistic, cognitive and social demands of writing and the diverse linguistic, cognitive and social profiles of individuals with ASD.
GIVING AMERICA AN "F" ON SCHOOL ACCESS Alumnus John King says the pandemic has been devastating for students of color. (Photo: TC Archives)
LONG AND WINDING ROAD The past 70 years have seen Nashville move from total segregation to statistical leadership in integration and back again. Ansley T. Erickson's 2016 book explores the city’s institutionalized resistance to racial equity. (Photo: University of Chicago Press Books)
A BOOK FOR OUR TIMES TC's Amra Sabic-El-Rayess writes of her teen years during the genocide against Bosnian Muslims. (Book cover courtesy of Bloomsbury)
UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE, DIFFERENT SOLUTIONS At a summit convened by TC's Center for Professional Education of Teachers, online teaching is Topic A. (Photo: iStock)
FRAUGHT TOPIC The history of the effort to secure and expand voting rights in the United States is long and contentious. Clockwise from top left: Janice Robinson, TC's Vice President for Diversity & Community Affairs; Sonya Douglass Horsford, Associate Professor of Education Leadership; Julie Ebenstein of the ACLU Voting Rights Project; Ricardo Ramirez of the Brennan Center for Justice. (Photo: TC Archives)
PREVENTION IS THE CURE A new coalition is applying a public health mindset to a uniquely American epidemic. (Photo: iStock)
SACRED TRUST Army Head Chaplain Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Solhjem headlines a webinar co-led by Shannon Royce of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (center) and TC's Lisa Miller. (Photos: Courtesy of Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Solhjem; Courtesy of Shannon Royce; TC Archives)
CRITICAL POLICY ANALYST TC's Sonya Douglass Horsford and her co-authors trace how market-driven approaches to education reform have ensured that “teachers, administrators, and students will be more mobile, leading to less stability and a weakening of professional expertise and organizational capacity.” (Photo: TC Archives)
GIVING OTHERS THE STAGE TC Record Executive Editor, Michelle Knight-Manuel encourages people from all backgrounds to contribute to the conversation. (Photo: J.D. Closser)
REMAINING OPTIMISTIC Michael Rebell with Rhode Island students some months ago. Rebell is upbeat about an appeal in the case he's leading to establish a constitutional right to a civic education. (Photo: TC Archives)
RESISTANCE AT WORK At the annual Fablearn conference, co-chaired by TC's Paulo Blikstein and Nathan Holbert, one project presented focused on a collaboration between youth at YR Media's Innovation lab and researchers at Stanford University to experiment with ways of defying facial recognition software that has been linked to racial bias. (Photo: Courtesy of the FabLearn Conference)
VOICES FOR CHANGE Among the many speakers at TC’s 2020 Academic Festival were (clockwise from top left): Dylan Kapit (M.A. ’20); Rob Gore, recipient of TC’s Morton Deutsch Social Justice Award; current student Gabriel Reyes, winner of this year’s Student Research Poster competition; Vanessa Colella (M.A. ’96), Chief Innovation Officer at Citi; Kevin Jennings (M.A. ’94), CEO of Lambda Legal; Preston Green (Ed.D. ’95), Distinguished Alumni Award recipient; and Mildred García (Ed.D. ’87, M.A. ’85), President of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. (Photo: TC Archives)
GOLDBERG VARIATION Vidur Chopra and Elizabeth Taveras Rivera are part of a group of Goldberg Postdoctoral Fellows at TC who represent a broad range of interests and fields. (Photos: TC Archives)
CHARTING A FUTURE COURSE Gordon Lecturer Mary Schmidt Campbell (left) said that higher education institutions must help schools gear for a coming technological revolution. Prompted by TC’s Erica Walker, she also said the arts have a vital role to play. (Photo: TC Archives)
APPLIED WISDOM Jaffe Peace Corps Fellow Michele St. John-Denerstein (M.A. ’18) now teaches in Upper Manhattan. (Photo: TC Archives)
BLENDING THEORY AND PRACTICE Amanda Howerton-Fox (left) is Assistant Professor of Education at Iona College and Jodi Falk is Executive Director of the St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf in Brooklyn. Their 2019 paper is prominently cited, verbatim and linked in the Biden-Harris administration's disabilities policy. (Left: Photo by Jo Cardin, for Iona College; Right: Courtesy of Jodi Falk)
PARSING ITS RACIAL HISTORY The city of El Cerrito, California, is using the transformative listening protocol developed at Teachers College to look at how residents of color were treated in the past. (Photo: TC Archives)
EXPANDED CLASSROOM Thanks to a multi-year effort led by Director Jennifer Lena, TC's ARAD program has been recalibrated to produce a diverse new generation of change-makers. Students in the program have interned at Lincoln Center and other major venues. (Photo: TC Archives)
Keynoting TC’s first-ever virtual new student orientation, former U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., (Ed.D. ’08, M.A. ’97) calls the absence of a consistent federal response to the coronavirus pandemic “devastating for children of color.” Speaking with Provost Stephanie Rowley, King, who served under President Obama and is now President and CEO of The Education Trust, charges that Black and Latinx youth have been disproportionately affected by COVID’s social-emotional toll and severely penalized by a national technology gap: “We literally had the schoolhouse door barred for kids because they didn’t have internet access.”
Ansley T. Erickson, Associate Professor of History & Education Policy and Co-Director of TC’s Center on History & Education, is a prominently featured guest in a segment of the WPLN Nashville Public Radio podcast series The Promise. Like the series, Erickson’s award-winning 2016 book, Making the Unequal Metropolis: School Desegregation and Its Limits (Historical Studies of Urban America), published by University of Chicago Press, reveals Nashville’s decades-long resistance to integration even as the city assembled impressive desegregation statistics on paper.
Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, Associate Professor of Practice in TC’s Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis, publishes The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival, her memoir of being a Muslim teenager in Bosnia during the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) instituted by the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milošević. The book, which has been available on pre-order through Amazon and many bookstores for several weeks, is already the number one best seller in new releases among young adult biographies, a category that includes authors Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama.
At the biennial Global Learning Alliance Summit led by TC’s Center for Professional Education of Teachers (CPET), online teaching during the pandemic is Topic A among school leaders from around the world. “The pedagogy and practice had been so much about in-person instruction that teachers felt stuck, scared and as if they couldn’t do anything right,” says Christina Compton, CPET’s Director of Program Development. The participants explore technology’s virtues, but many echo CPET’s Faith Little’s preference for “meeting in person to share what we are doing with kids in different places and under different circumstances.”
At TC’s 2020 Constitution Day program, honoring the late Congressman John Lewis, Julie Ebenstein, Senior Staff Attorney for the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), says Americans “can be confident that if we cast ballots, they will be counted.” Janice Robinson, TC’s Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs, whose office sponsors the annual event, urges continued vigilance because the COVID pandemic “has further highlighted existing inequalities that plague our institutions and disproportionately affect historically marginalized communities.” And moderator Sonya Douglass Horsford, Associate Professor of Education Leadership and Founding Director of TC’s Black Education Research Collective, sounds a one-word Election Day imperative: “Vote.”
The new Columbia Scientific Union for the Reduction of Gun Violence (SURGE) co-sponsors Gun Violence Action Week, a series of virtual workshops, panel discussions and town halls on gun politics, intimate partner violence, suicide prevention and other relevant topics. SURGE was co-founded by TC’s Sonali Rajan, Associate Professor of Health Education, and Louis Klarevas, Research Professor and author of Rampage Nation: Securing America from Mass Shootings, together with faculty members at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, to combat a national epidemic that, thus far in 2020, has already killed nearly 32,000 Americans.
Gen. Thomas L. Solhjem, U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains, keynotes the second installment of The Spirituality and Mental Health Webinar Series, a collaboration between TC’s Spirituality Mind Body Institute, led by Lisa Miller, Professor of Psychology & Education, and the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The series explores spirituality’s application to severe mental illness, personal relationships, the life course and other issues. Miller’s own findings “validate what we, as people of faith, instinctively know to be true and puts it in the vein of science,” Solhjem says, adding that “we’re bringing the science of spirituality to the Army through the lens of Dr. Miller.”
The Politics of Education Policy in an Era of Inequality: Possibilities for Democratic Schooling (Harvard Education Press 2018), co-authored by TC’s Sonya Douglass Horsford, Associate Professor of Education Leadership, receives the American Educational Studies Association’s 2020 Critics’ Choice Book Award. Horsford, Founding Director of TC’s Black Education Research Collective (BERC), Janelle T. Scott of the University of California at Berkeley, and Gary L. Anderson of New York University apply critical policy analysis to how “dismantling the government’s role in education limits the democratic possibilities of schooling.” They argue that principals and district leaders are key to creating and sustaining an education system that does not treat students differently based on their race, culture, or zip code.
“We call ourselves ‘the voice of scholarship in education,’” says Professor of Education Michelle Knight-Manuel, Executive Editor of the 130-year-old Teachers College Record since October 2019. “But what voices are we actually representing?” Knight-Manuel, whose own research has focused on the experiences and needs of immigrant students, has undertaken a “landscape review” of the journal’s content for the previous five years and launched a daily tweet highlighting past Record articles with relevance to the COVID pandemic and violence against people of color. She’s also supplemented the Record’s editorial board with new expertise in areas such as bilingual mathematics education and rural education and added students to her staff, which she sees as “an equity/access” issue.
Judge William Smith of the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island dismisses Cook v. Raimondo, a case in which plaintiffs sought to establish that all public school students have a Constitutional right to an education that prepares them to participate in the nation’s democratic activities. Yet Smith writes that, “in denying that relief, I hope I can at least call out the need for it.” The plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Michael Rebell, Professor of Law and Educational Practice and Executive Director of TC’s Center for Educational Equity, says the decision “provides a road map to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.”
This year’s FabLearn Conference, co-chaired by TC faculty members Paulo Blikstein and Nathan Holbert and University of New Mexico computer scientist Leah Buechley, frames maker education (project-based pedagogies and technology-rich environments that help children create and invent) as an antidote to pandemic-induced feelings of powerlessness. “As science evolves, education needs to catch up,” Blikstein, Associate Professor of Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design, tells a virtual audience from 31 countries. “We need to develop ways for children to access new content, such as artificial intelligence, genomics, and climate science. Maker education is an important part of that.”
TC’s 12th annual Academic Festival is also the unique homecoming event’s first online iteration — a four-day lineup of panels and presentations headlined “The Right Moves: Access, Equity & Justice for All.”
The program kicks off with a discussion of the award-winning film, Welcome to Chechnya, in which the film’s director, David France, and its executive producer, Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings (M.A. ’94), discuss their documentation of efforts by activists to fight that country’s brutal assault on its LGBTQ community.
In accepting TC’s Morton Deutsch Award for Social Justice, Rob Gore, Founding Director of the Kings Against Violence Initiative and Clinical Assistant Professor at Kings County Hospital Center, discusses reasons for the high rate of violent traumatic injury that kills so many young men of color. “It’s not just because of gun violence and gun access,” Gore says. “We have to understand the conditions and situations that give rise to that violence.”
And in a panel on the future of higher education, four leaders in the field, moderated by TC President Thomas Bailey, ponder the steep inequities and challenges faced by BIPOC and low-income students at public colleges and universities. Decrying the growing practice of giving the most accomplished students merit aid at the expense of others in greater need, Mildred García (Ed.D. ’87, M.A. ’85), President of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, declares that “we need to be a little bit stronger, a little bit bolder, in fighting for the new majority — the first-generation, the low-income, the students of color.”
Other programming includes: a talk by Vanessa Colella (M.A. ’96), Chief Innovation Officer at Citi, on a new technology paradigm she calls “artificial enlightenment;” presentation of TC’s Distinguished Achievement, Early Career and Distinguished Service Awards; and this year’s student research poster contest, won by Neuroscience & Education master’s degree student Gabriel Reyes, for “Scarcity & the Brain: Does Financial Deprivation Affect Learning & Memory in Adolescents?”
A $2.5 million bequest by the late alumnus and Brooklyn public school teacher Bruce Goldberg (Ed.D. ’76, M.A. ’75) establishes TC as a leader in one of the hottest research areas in both health and education: child and adolescent trauma. The Dr. Bruce Goldberg Postdoctoral Fellowships are “a real game-changer,” says TC Provost Stephanie J. Rowley. They amplify “a really cool interdisciplinary focus at TC that includes not only people working in psychology, but also in our departments of Mathematics, Science & Technology, Biobehavioral Sciences and Arts & Humanities.” The Fellowships also “help people understand our value as a research institution.”
When Mary Schmidt Campbell became President of Atlanta’s Spelman College — a leading historically Black institution — she asked neighborhood principals how Spelman could help their schools. “They all said ‘teach our students to read,’” Campbell recalls in delivering TC’s annual Edmund W. Gordon Lecture. Spelman’s students have since helped boost the schools’ reading scores. And citing the projected elimination of 80 million unskilled jobs, Campbell has argued that colleges and universities have “no choice” but to lead in “the involvement and improvement of urban education.” Honoring the legendary psychologist, IUME founder and TC Professor Emeritus Edmund W. Gordon, this year’s Gordon lecture is presented in conjunction with TC’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance.
Teaching has gotten even tougher during the COVID pandemic, but Teachers College’s Peace Corps Fellows Program provides insights into how best to support teachers during a crisis. The program’s 780 graduates since 1985 have partnered with learning communities throughout New York City — and during the past five years, amid a 50 percent national turnover rate among new teachers, the Peace Corps Fellows Program has prepared 52 New York City teachers, all of whom are still teaching. The program “attracts teachers with a dedication to serving students’ needs, a devotion to social justice, a commitment to the pursuit of peace, and a passion for education,” says Director Elaine Perlman (M.A. ’92).
Citation by others is a gold standard of academic research. Citation by the nation’s incoming presidential administration isn’t on most researchers’ radar. So Amanda Howerton-Fox and Jodi Falk, doctoral graduates of TC’s Deaf & Hard of Hearing Program, were happily stunned that their 2019 study, “Deaf Children as ‘English Learners’: The Psycholinguistic Turn in Deaf Education,” published in Education Sciences, has become a cornerstone of President-Elect Joe Biden’s federal disability policy. Howerton-Fox, Assistant Professor of Education at Iona College, and Falk, Executive Director of the St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf in Brooklyn, advocate for deaf children and their families to receive early access to sign language and bilingual programs. Quoting them nearly verbatim, the Biden platform pledges to “provide parents, health care providers, and early childhood professionals the resources needed to support these children.”
Last May, following the death of George Floyd, the Human Rights Commission of El Cerrito, California, led a communitywide discussion on race and social justice. It used a Transformative Listening Protocol (TLP) developed by a team led by Victoria Marsick, Professor of Education and Director of TC’s Adult Learning & Leadership program, that included Commission member Mina Wilson. Inspired by the theories of the late TC adult learning theorist Jack Mezirow, the TLP is “about opening your mind to different perspectives by hearing from other people and thinking from their point of view as well as your own,” says Marsick. El Cerrito residents say they have done just that. The method also has been introduced in colleges and universities in the United States, Thailand, Canada, Brazil and Italy, and Marsick plans to test it more widely.
This winter, TC is launching a revamped edition of its Program in Arts Administration (ARAD), the result, of a multiyear effort led by Associate Professor and Program Director Jennifer Lena. More affordable and accessible to a more diverse range of students, the new program seeks to elevate a field long undervalued and highlight its special relevance in a time when diversity increasingly characterizes and divides the nation. “Arts administrators are responsible for identifying what is most beautiful and significant in our culture,” says Lena. “And while right now the professional staff of arts organizations are predominantly White and upper middle-class, increasingly, the art that’s in demand is made by people who are very different than that. So we need a new generation of changemakers and leaders who are as diverse as this country.”