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Expert takes on education policy initiatives

October 02, 2008

Kevin Kumashiro, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Educational Policy Studies, as well as interim co-director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois-Chicago, will speak on “Reframing Education: Power, Policies and Social Justice” at 6 p.m., Oct. 6, at Organ Hall at the Music Building.

A reception will take place before the keynote at 5 p.m.

Kumashiro is the keynote speaker in the Diversity Scholar Lecture Series sponsored by the Intergroup Relations Center and the School of Justice & Social Inquiry. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Just in time for the 2008 elections, this lecture will critically analyze education policy initiatives as framed by the rhetoric of the political spectrum. Kumashiro’s talk will address how these two political perspectives have “framed” the debate on education in the United States.

Kumashiro argues that the political right has historically appealed to conservative notions of the traditional family, free enterprise, goodness and fear to shape the public’s common sense ideas about schooling, all the while building support for its attacks on public education and social justice reforms.

On the other hand, he says, the left has failed to win support for its initiatives and goals because of a lack of unified ideology, especially regarding racial disparities in schools. Kumashiro expects to offer signs of hope as the left looks to “reframe” common sense notions about education to embrace a commitment to human rights, a belief in equality and quality education for all students.

According to Justice & Social Inquiry associate professor Madelaine Adelman, who also serves as the co-chair of the local chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and on the Education Committee of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “Kumashiro offers innovative ideas about the future of public education in the United States by cutting through the noise typically associated with debates over student achievement. He critiques the right and left, and then provides a blueprint for how to makes schools a place for all our students.”

Kumashiro received his doctorate from the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a writer or editor of seven books, Kumashiro researches policies, practices and politics regarding teaching and teacher education, with an emphasis on issues of diversity and social justice, including the intersections of multiple identities and the contradictions of activism.

Much of his earlier research focused on anti-oppressive education, including “Troubling Education: ‘Queer’ Activism and Antioppressive Pedagogy,” which received the 2003 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, and “Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice,” which soon will be released in its second edition.

More recently, his research has focused on the politics of education reform, particularly the strategies of conservative and neoliberal movements in the United States, as discussed in his most recent book, “The Seduction of Common Sense: How the Right has Framed the Debate on America's Schools.”

Kumashiro also is the founding director of the Center for Anti-Oppressive Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Kumashiro has taught in private and public elementary and secondary schools in the United States and abroad. He also has taught and supervised student teachers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was a minority scholar-in-residence at Swarthmore College, was on the faculty of education at Bates College and was a noted scholar-in-residence at the University of British Columbia.

Most recently, he was a senior program specialist in human and civil rights at the National Education Association, where he coordinated the National Training Program on Safety, Bias and GLBT Issues, and the National Summit on Asian and Pacific Islander Issues in Education. He has coordinated professional development opportunities for educators and given numerous presentations and workshops for students and faculty across the United States.

He has served and continues to serve as a consultant for various school districts, and for state and federal departments of education.


Elma Dzanic, 480-965-8051,