Sep 03

How Did We Get Here?: The Long Struggle for Educational Justice in New York


In a back-to-school season fraught with uncertainty and fear, the history of Black parent, student, and teacher organizing for educational justice in New York offers important historical perspectives and lessons. Join the conversation with historians and educators and share stories and strategies for organizing today.


  • Ujju Aggarwal

    The New School for Social Research

    Ujju Aggarwal is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Experiential Learning in the Schools of Public Engagement and an affiliate faculty member in Global Studies and the Department of Anthropology. Her research examines questions related to public infrastructures, urban space, racial capitalism, rights, gender, and the state.

    She is currently completing her first book, The Color of Choice: Raced Rights, the Structure of Citizenship, and Inequality in Education, a historically informed ethnography of choice as it emerged in the post-Civil Rights period in the United States. Her work has appeared in popular outlets, scholarly journals, and edited volumes including Transforming Anthropology, Scholar & Feminist Online, Educational Policy, and Feminists Rethink the Neoliberal State: Inequality, Exclusion, and Change. She is co-editor of What’s race got to do with it? How current school reform policy maintains racial and economic inequality.

    In addition to her academic training, Ujju also brings a long history of working to build local and national organizations that work for educational justice, immigrants’ rights, and transformative justice as well as projects that focus on the intersection of arts and social justice, popular education, and adult literacy.

  • Ernest Morrell

    University of Notre Dame

    Ernest Morrell is the Coyle Professor in Literacy Education and Director of the Center for Literacy Education at the University of Notre Dame. Ernest has recently been named director of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), James R. Squire Office for Policy Research in the English Language Arts. He is an elected Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, a past president of NCTE, and a co-convener of the African Diaspora International Research Network. His scholarly interests include: literacy studies, the teaching of English, literature for children, critical media pedagogy, youth popular culture, and postcolonial literatures of the African Diaspora.

    Ernest has authored 90 articles, research briefs, and book chapters and ten books including Stories from Inequity to Justice in Literacy Education, New Directions in Teaching English, and Critical Media Pedagogy: Teaching for Achievement in City Schools, which was awarded Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine of the American Library Association.

    Ernest has earned numerous commendations for his university teaching including UCLA’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He received his Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of California, Berkeley where he was the recipient of the Outstanding Dissertation award in 2001. Ernest is chair of the Planning and Advisory Committee for the African Diaspora Consortium and he sits on the Executive Boards of LitWorld and the Education for Democracy Institute.

  • Terrenda White

    University of Colorado, Boulder

    Terrenda White is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Education at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Her current research focuses on market-based education reforms in urban communities, and its cultural and pedagogical impact on teacher dispositions, teacher professional autonomy and identity, and the development of inclusive classroom practices. White explores charter school reform and the organizational distinctions across community-based charter schools and privately managed charter schools.

    Dr. White's dissertation research, “Culture, Power, and Pedagogy in Market-Driven Times: Embedded Case-Studies of Teaching in Four Urban Charter Schools” earned the National Academy of Education/Spencer dissertation fellowship, as well as the American Education Research Association minority dissertation fellowship.

    Her most recent work involves teacher identity and dispositions within alternative teacher preparation programs. In this work, White explores teachers’ socialization and ideologies of equity within alternative programs. This work has been highlighted in news journals such as the American Prospect and the LA Times. Dr. White is a former elementary school teacher, and a former coordinator for the Prison Education Initiative in NYC.



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