“Color Does Not Equal Consciousness”: Educators of Color Learning to Enact a Sociopolitical Consciousness

Dr. Iesha Jackson (Teaching and Learning) co-authored an empirical study with colleague Dr. Michelle Knight-Manuel (Teacher’s College – Columbia University) that explores how secondary educators of color attempt to support their Black and Latino male students’ navigation of particular inequities related to college knowledge and access. The research, published in the Journal of Teacher Education, highlights culturally relevant professional development for inservice teachers of color.


This study is based on an initiative for increasing college and career readiness for Black and Latino male high school students in New York City. From data that include 58 total hours of participant observations from 24 educators of color, written documentation from culturally relevant education–professional development (CRE-PD) activities, and transcripts of six group interviews, we examine these educators’ work to further their own sociopolitical consciousness in relation to increasing Black and Latino male students’ college and career readiness. We explore how secondary educators of color utilize pedagogical tools and practices in attempting to support their Black and Latino male students’ navigation of particular inequities related to college knowledge and access. Our findings highlight educators’ experiential knowledge as a pedagogical tool, approaches to preparing students for postsecondary opportunities, and missed opportunities to enact a sociopolitical consciousness. Recommendations for inservice educator PD and future research are discussed.

June 2018 Doctoral Dissertations

Rebecca Gates, Derek Riddle, Beth Gersten, Jennifer Golanics and Elizabeth Sanders will defend their doctoral dissertations this month. We congratulate each of them on all their hard work leading to this momentous day.


June 18, 2018 • 10 a.m. • CEB 315A

Candidate: Rebecca Gates, Educational Psychology & Higher Education
Dissertation Title:
“Having or Serving: Perceptions of HSIs”
Committee Members:
Dr. Doris L. Watson, Chair
Dr. Kimberly Nehls
Dr. Stefani Relles
Dr. Maria Casas, Graduate College Representative


June 18, 2018 • 3 p.m. • CEB 399

Candidate: Derek Riddle, Teaching & Learning
Dissertation Title:
“A Descriptive Exploration of Self-Directed Professional Development”
Committee Members:
Dr. Jori Beck, Co-Chair
Dr. Emily Lin, Co-Chair
Dr. Steven Bickmore
Dr. David Vallett
Dr. Lisa Bendixen, Graduate College Representative


June 19, 2018 • 12:45 p.m. • CEB 315A

Candidate: Beth Gersten, Educational Psychology & Higher Education
Dissertation Title:
“Learning Communities and Early Student Success”
Committee Members:
Dr. Vicki Rosser, Chair
Dr. Alice Corkill
Dr. Nathan Slife
Dr. Helen Neill, Graduate College Representative


June 22, 2018 • 9:30 a.m. • CEB 315A

Candidate: Jennifer Golanics, Educational Psychology & Higher Education
Dissertation Title:
Malingering Undetected Successfully: Does Extrinsic Motivation and Coaching Have a Significant Impact?
Committee Members:
Dr. E. Michael Nussbaum, Chair
Dr. Dana Bickmore
Dr. Scott Loe
Dr. Joseph Morgan, Graduate College Representative


June 25, 2018 • 1 p.m. • CEB 236

Candidate: Elizabeth Sanders, Educational Psychology & Higher Education
Dissertation Title:
A Qualitative Study of School Psychologists’ Perception and Interpretation of Their Professional Identity
Committee Members:
Dr. Scott Loe, Chair
Dr. Sam Song
Dr. Steve McCafferty
Dr. Cori More, Graduate College Representative

Top Tier Lecture Series: The Wing Beneath Dragon’s Wing: Filial Piety and its Correlates

Join the department of counselor education, school psychology & human services and The PRACTICE for a Top Tier lecture featuring Wei-Wen Chen of the University of Macau, China at 11 a.m. June 18 in Carlson Education Building, Room 238. This event is free and open to the public (RSVP requested for refreshment count only to Ching-Chen Chen).

Filial piety has been the core Confucian ethics in the Chinese culture. However, research about the impact of filial piety on Chinese psychological adaptation has been mixed. In this presentation, the dual filial piety model, including reciprocal filial piety and authoritarian filial piety, will be introduced. In addition, empirical evidence of two filial piety beliefs on individuals’ family functioning, learning, and romantic relationships will be elaborated to further clarify how filial piety has helped shape the psychological development of Chinese young adults.

Wei-Wen Chen is an associate professor in education at the University of Macau. Her research focuses on how family relationships influence young adults’ developmental outcomes, including learning, psychological functioning, and romantic relationships.

Kids of color get kicked out of school at higher rates – here’s how to stop it

By Samuel Song, University of Nevada, Las Vegas via The Conversation U.S.

When two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks where they had been waiting for a business meeting on April 12, the incident called renewed attention to the bias that racial minorities face in American society.

A few days later, a similar incident unfolded at an LA Fitness in New Jersey.

While these two incidents involved adults at places of business, the reality is black children face similar treatment in America’s schools.

The latest evidence is in a recent federal report that shows boys, black students and students with disabilities get kicked out of school at higher rates than their peers.

Findings like this are disturbing, but they are hardly surprising. As a trainer of school psychologists, consultant and researcher, I have worked with schools on the matter of racial disparities in school discipline, along with other problems of justice.

I believe racial disparities in school discipline will persist until educators seriously examine the role their decisions play in the matter. They will also persist until schools begin to implement new strategies that have proven it’s not necessary to kick kids out of school to effectively deal with their behavior.

The source of disparities

Racial disparities in school discipline are nothing new. In 2014 – after years of “zero tolerance” policies proved problematic – the Obama administration issued a guidance to remind schools of their obligation to teach all children and not to suspend or expel them unfairly.

Yet, the new federal data show that for virtually every school in the country for the 2013-14 school year, racial disparities were present irrespective of the type of disciplinary action, level of school poverty, or type of school attended. The bottom line is that some sort of bias is at play.

In research on the subject, this bias is known as implicit bias. This is defined as automatic, unconscious associations and stereotypes about groups of people that affect our understanding, actions and decisions. This topic has been studied extensively and popularized by a collaborative research project housed at Harvard University.

How real is implicit bias? In a series of four experimental studies, the fourth study, using state-of-the-art eye-tracking methodology, demonstrated that – when asked to judge who was telling the truth – whites gazed more quickly at the “lie” response for blacks, which suggests a spontaneous mistrust of blacks. This is consistent with what other researchers have found. Interestingly, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson mentioned implicit bias as one of the issues potentially at play in the Starbucks incident.

One study on implicit bias in schools concluded that teachers and staff viewed black girls’ behavior differently. The same study found that black girls were three times more likely to receive office referrals for discipline compared to white girls for subjective discipline violations. A different study found that black students were disciplined for subjective interpretations of behaviors, such as “disobedience” and “disruptive behavior.”

An experimental study conducted at Yale found that preschool teachers gazed at black boys longer compared to other children when asked to look for challenging behavior on video clips.

This tendency to view black children with more suspicion harms the relationships between teachers and black students.

In issuing the new report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, or GAO, lists several areas to target racial disparities in school discipline. In my experience working with schools, I believe the GAO’s recommendations are correct, but will only work under certain conditions.

In search of alternatives

The first recommendation is to implement alternative forms of discipline that focus on proactive and preventative strategies for the whole school rather than reactive punishment. In my work with schools implementing such approaches, the biggest problem is the degree to which teachers and staff may not have buy-in on the strategies to implement them properly.

For example, some teachers and staff with one particular initiative became frustrated with certain challenging students and rarely gave praise or “behavior bucks,” which could be traded in for privileges and stickers. And when teachers did distribute the “behavior bucks,” they were sarcastic about it and often belittled students rather than being encouraging. In essence, teachers turned a positive strategy into a harmful one.

Due to the potential lack of buy-in from teachers, it is important to use strategies that enable a more collaborative approach to deciding the consequences.

This is the strength of the restorative justice approach. Restorative justice is built upon a foundation of empowering students to collaboratively have their voices heard, take responsibility for one’s actions, and make hurt relationships right again through community dialogue.

For example, restorative justice approaches will gather students and adults together in a circle to discuss the infraction by focusing on who was harmed and what the community can do to make the hurt relationship right again, which is often a plan of amends. These circle discussions with various adults and students allow for all parties to understand one another’s perspective and produce empathy for students, teachers and classmates. In my view, collaborative decision-making is the key to reducing biases.

Restorative justice has been shown to reduce racial disparities in discipline directly, which perhaps explains why other programs are integrating restorative justice strategies into their programs.

Second, there need to be new laws and policies to discourage punitive, exclusionary disciplinary practices in schools and to encourage alternative approaches to school discipline.

For example, California prohibits the use of suspensions and expulsions for children in grades K-3 for willful defiance. Other states and school districts, such as Illinois and Seattle, have done so as well.

The ConversationFinally, it would be helpful if America’s schools had more school psychologists on hand. Unfortunately, the nation’s schools suffer from a shortage of school psychologists at a time when they are needed most to help address complex issues of racial disparities in school discipline.

Samuel Song, Associate Professor of School Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.