Theory of Action

I believe that changing the experiences of students in U.S. K-12 and higher education can transform our society and help achieve racial equity. Decades of education reform, however, have failed to substantially reduce White-Black disparities in opportunities.

Source: What Matters for Student Achievement by Eric A. Hanushek. Education Next (link).

I believe that part of the reason why waves of reform have failed to fully address racial disparities is because of our tendency to focus on implementing programs that target specifically the education of black and brown youth. Do not get me wrong - I think this work is essential to improving the lives of thousands across the country. We know from research, however, that much of the variation in students' outcomes - in school and as adults - are attributable to factors outside of the schools they attend. This suggests that, without addressing the other systems that marginalize and oppress black and brown individuals in the U.S., changing the schools of black and brown youth will only do so much to expand their opportunities. What does this then mean for my research in education?

In one strand of my work, I research how different educational experiences impact students' outgroup attitudes, prosocial and empathic behaviors, and sociopolitical preferences—and how aggregate shifts in these outcomes ultimately impact societal economic and racial equity. This focus stems from a working theory (read: needs to be empirically tested) that a more equitable society cannot be achieved through improvement of education-specific outcomes (e.g., test scores and attainment) alone, but also requires increasing these potential "spillover" effects of education—in particular for white and higher-income youth.

In the second strand of my work, I partner with educational agencies to conduct evaluations of their policies and programs. I view this work as critical and complementary to my research interests described above, which are less focused on the immediate educational outcomes of concern to most states and districts. Changing attitudes and behaviors is difficult work that takes time. As such, I believe it is imperative to support agencies' current efforts towards improving the opportunities of their most marginalized students.

Some of my current research projects investigate: the relationship between teachers' implicit racial bias and racial disparities in test scores and suspensions; the effects of school integration and diversity on racial attitudes and politics; and the effects of political partisanship on school-level outcomes.