WERA International Research Network (WERA-IRN) Proposal Families, Educators, and Communities as Educational Advocates: Cross National Perspectives

A. Introduction and Overview of the Research Topic
Governments, schools, and researchers around the world call for parent and community involvement in education (e.g., Duncan, 2010; Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010). Parent and community involvement is purported to improve student achievement (Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, & Davies, 2003; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2012), and public participation in policy processes enhances democracy, policy, and education (Barber, 2003; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2003; Orr & Rogers, 2011). There is a growing research base that examines how and why parents, community-based organizations, businesses, universities, unions, professional organizations, and other interest and advocacy groups engage with educators and other decision-makers in education.

Research on Parent Involvement. Traditionally, research on school-based educators’ relationships with families has examined different ways parents are involved in schools (e.g., Chrispeels, 1996; Epstein, 2011); the benefits of parental involvement (e.g., Henderson & Mapp, 2002; LaRocque, Kleiman, & Darling, 2011); the barriers to parent involvement (e.g., Flynn, 2011); parents’ motivation for becoming involved in schools (e.g., Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005); and strategies for increasing parent involvement in schools and enhancing home-school relationships (e.g., Georgis, Gokiert, Ford & Ali, 2014; Hands, 2013). Much of this of work may be characterized as school-centric; that is, its focus is on the ways parents and communities can support school goals (Baquedano-López, Alexander & Hernandez, 2013).

Other research examines the politics of parent involvement. This work considers how class, race, language, and other social factors affect parent involvement and perpetuate social inequalities (e.g., Baquedano-López et al., 2013; Pushor & Murphy, 2010). The advocacy work of parents with children with special needs in particular is well documented (e.g., Bacon & Causton-Theoharis, 2013; Hutchinson et al., 2014). A related area of research considers the work of formal parent organizations at the local (e.g., school councils and parent-teacher associations), state, and federal levels. This work examines participants’ experiences and organizations’ activities and outcomes (e.g., Leithwood, Jantzi & Steinbach, 1999; Pharis, Bass & Pate, 2005). Yet much of this research focuses on how parents and parent organizations respond to single issues, and fails to consider how parents might interact with other advocacy groups.

Research on Community-Based Organizations. Research on the work of community-based organizations (CBOs) has emerged as these groups started taking on education reform as part of their community improvement efforts. Unlike the school-centric research described above, research on community organizing and grassroots advocacy focuses on how these groups attempt to influence formal decision-makers and challenge traditional power relationships between schools and marginalized parents and community members (e.g., McLaughlin et al., 2009). This research finds CBOs use a range of direct and indirect strategies such as contacting legislators, testifying at hearings, organizing protests, hosting town hall meetings, engaging citizens in public dialogues, disseminating research, circulating alternative policy narratives, and building citizens’ civic capacity.

CBOs and formal parent organizations may be considered different kinds of interest or advocacy groups. Interest groups, according to Thomas and Hrebenar (1992), are “any association of individuals, whether formally organized or not, that attempts to influence public policy” (p. 153, as cited in Opfer et al., 2008). Young and Everitt (2004) suggest the term interest groups signals group members are interested in achieving goals that will benefit their members only and excludes groups that seek to realize goals that they may not benefit from directly. Thus, they propose the more inclusive term “advocacy group” and define an advocacy group as one that “seeks to influence government policy, but not to govern” (Young and Everitt, 2004, p. 5).

Other advocacy groups in education include businesses, religious groups, unions, foundations, think tanks, professional organizations, and professionally-oriented groups (Kirst and Wirt, 2009; Spring, 2011). Research on these groups examines why they engage with schools and education more broadly; how they attempt to influence elected officials and other education decision-makers; their relationships with the media; and benefits, challenges and/or outcomes of their involvement with education for different groups (DiMartino & Scott, 2012; Lugg & Robinson, 2009; McDonald, 2013; 2014; Molnar, 2006; Raptis, 2012; Scott, 2009).

Research on Teacher Unions. In the case of teacher unions, research has focused on how teacher unions advocate for teachers’ rights, working conditions and involvement in decision-making in education reform; engage in equity and social justice initiatives; support international development programs; draw attention to teacher quality; influence and enact reform policy; and defend public education (Rottmann, 2012; Stevenson, 2007; 2008). To achieve their goals, research finds teacher unions reframe government discourses, critique government policies, provide professional development, publish articles, fund social justice initiatives, form committees, maintain listservs, and develop relationships with the community, among other activities (Rottmann, 2012).

Research on University-Community Partnerships. Finally, the extant literature on university-community partnerships identifies diverse purposes and goals of these arrangements such as community empowerment; enhanced economic development: improved civic engagement; access to resources; stronger CBOs; authentic research, teaching, and learning opportunities; and a more just society (Fisher, Fabricant & Simmons, 2004; Fogel & Cooke, 2006). Partnership activities include service learning, community-based research, volunteer service, practicum placements, and community development (LaLond Wyant, 2013). Research identifies potential and realized outcomes, benefits, and challenges for both partners. A key challenge is the typical power imbalance that exists between universities and the communities with whom they partner (Fisher, Fabricant & Simmons, 2004).
B. Plan and Outcomes Expected From Establishing an IRN

This international research network aims to build on and expand traditional understandings of school-family-community partnerships by identifying different kinds of communities that engage and advocate for educational change in ways and for purposes not always recognized in the extant literature. In this international research network we aim to take a critical look at the research regarding culturally responsive school-community partnerships that challenge the status quo and work to improve democratic decision-making, support public education, strengthen neighborhoods, and advocate for diverse participation in educational arenas. The review of the research will be intentionally focused on the intersections within and across national contexts, as there has been little cross-national research in the field of school-community engagement. Together this work aims to complicate traditional views of parent-school-community relationships by examining how different constituencies develop alliances, experience tensions, and navigate the political relationships that occur when advocating for educational change.

While each of these research focus areas—parent and family engagement, community organizing, and teacher activism —has been pursued individually, there has been little investigation that examines how educational advocacy groups interact, particularly across national contexts. Over a three-year period we will convene the international research network virtually through WERA sponsored videoconferencing tools and organize three annual working conferences. The aim is to produce a state of the art research report and edited volume on family, educational, and community advocacy in cross national and international contexts. The proposed IRN working conferences are designed to piggy back with future international conferences such as ECER, CSSE, and AERA so that network participants might present papers and symposiums on their work at these conferences as well as (hopefully) utilize their institutional conference travel funding to attend the following IRN events:

Year One – A proposed symposium will be submitted to the 2016 ECER conference (September 2016, location to be announced), which highlights papers from network research participants. A research network meeting of the co-convenors and network members who are able to attend (in person or virtually) will be held during the ECER conference to begin to plan the scope of the literature review and discuss the recruitment of additional network members. An informal reception at ECER for potential network members will be hosted by the University of Nottingham.

Year Two – A two-day working conference in May 2017 with a focus on Community Advocacy to be hosted by York University, Toronto, Ontario. This convening will take place before the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) conference to be held at Ryerson University in May, 2017. Network members will be encouraged to submit proposals for papers and symposiums to be presented at CSSE. This IRN working conference will involve both university researchers and members of community organizations. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, it will provide an opportunity for knowledge exchange and feedback from advocacy organizations on the research review to date.

Year Three – A final two-day Research and Practice conference to be held in April 2018 at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA. This conference will be scheduled as a preconference to the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference to be held in New York City from April 13-April 17, 2018. Members of the IRN will be encouraged to submit symposium and paper proposals to AERA based on network-related research. The results of the IRN research review will be presented at this conference and the work of selected international advocacy groups highlighted. Participants at this working conference will include both university researchers and representatives of advocacy groups as critical friends to provide feedback on the research review.

C. Participants in the Network

Several of the participants in the proposed research network have worked together on past research projects, presented their work in a recent AERA symposium, and contributed to an upcoming special issue of the international journal Leadership and Policy in Schools entitled “Families, Educators, and Communities as Educational Advocates: Cross National Perspectives” (Johnson and Winton, Editors, expected publication August, 2015). Network participants have been actively involved in the four major AERA special interest groups that intersect with this proposed research network, including the Grass Roots Community and Youth Organizing SIG, the Teacher’s Work, Teacher’s Unions SIG (Howard Stevenson, former Program Chair), the Family, School and Community Partnerships SIG (Michael Evans, former Program Chair), and the Educational Change SIG. Co-convenors of the proposed IRN are also members of the BELMAS Critical Educational Policy and Leadership Studies Research Interest Group (Howard Stevenson and Lauri Johnson), the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (Sue Winton), and have presented widely at international conferences such as the European Educational Research Association (ECER).

See the attached list of participants and their biographies (Appendix A) for further information about the diverse research expertise and interests regarding parent, educator, and community engagement and advocacy that each member will contribute to this international research network. We have consciously assembled a diverse group of junior and senior scholars as well as graduate students to build capacity in the network.

D. Outreach Plan to Extend Membership

We will use our connections to the AERA SIGs, BELMAS Research Interest Groups, and involvement with other organizations like the European Educational Research Association (ECER), CSSE, as well as connections through our existing international research projects to expand the research network, particularly to include more international researchers outside North America. Using the WERA virtual communications tools, we will establish three working subgroups (parent/family engagement, teacher unions, and community organizing), organize three working conferences, and produce an edited volume. As the IRN expands we intend to identity and target additional research and publishing opportunities to advance the research aims of the network.

E. Leadership

Convenor Dr. Lauri Johnson, Associate Professor, Boston College, USA and Fulbright Scholar and Honorary Research Fellow, University of Nottingham, UK

Co-Convenor Dr. Sue Winton, York University, Toronto, CANADA

Co-Convenor Dr. Howard Stevenson, University of Nottingham, UK

Dr. Lauri Johnson will be responsible for establishing the overall coordination and communication for the international research network and convene the parent/family engagement subgroup. Dr. Sue Winton will take responsibility for convening the community engagement subgroup and Dr. Howard Stevenson will convene the teacher organizing/teacher union subgroup.

Biographies of Co-Convenors

Lauri Johnson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Higher Education at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA, where she directs the doctoral program in Educational Leadership. She is currently the 2014 – 2015 Fulbright Core Scholar and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham where she is researching the life histories of Black and South Asian headteachers throughout the UK, with a particular focus on their role as educational and community activists. Dr. Johnson’s research interests include culturally responsive and community-oriented leadership in national and international contexts, community activism in urban school reform, and successful school leadership in high poverty schools. She has published widely on these topics in two edited books, national and international journals, and international research yearbooks. She is a member of the original US team of the International Successful School Principalship Project (ISSPP), a 20-nation study which has conducted cross national research on successful school leaders since 2002. Dr. Johnson hosted an ISSPP Research and Practice conference at Boston College in June, 2011 which involved 60 international researchers. A presenter at the WERA 2014 focal meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dr. Johnson has been an individual member of WERA since 2015.

Sue Winton is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her research examines how diverse groups engage in efforts to influence policy decisions and practices. Dr. Winton’s current project, “Mobilizing Rhetoric for Policy Change: How Context Influences an Advocacy Group’s Success,” examines how an education advocacy group in Ontario, Canada, has engaged in discursive struggles over the meaning of fundraising and special education policies over the past two decades. This study is funded by Canada’s Social Science and Humanities Research Council. In earlier research Dr. Winton investigated how community-based organizations in Canada and the USA use research, political spectacles, and policy dialogues to enhance citizen’s engagement in policy processes, challenge government narratives, and strengthen democracy.

Howard Stevenson is Professor and Director of Research at the School of Education, University of Nottingham. Howard’s research interests focus on both the school and higher education sectors, including the formation and development of education policy processes, school and HE sector labor relations/teacher unions, and the investigation of teachers’ work/academic labor through labor process analysis. He has undertaken funded research for teacher unions in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, including being a co-investigator in one of the largest studies of labor relations issues in English schools (ESRC – RES-062-23-0034-A). Recent work has focused on leadership in community organizing and social movement contexts. Currently President of the University of Nottingham branch of the University and College Union, Howard seeks to connect academics and activists campaigning for public education by providing access to evidence and arguments to challenge market driven school reform, and articulate a vision of education based on values of social justice and democracy.

F. Duration

This international research network is expected to continue for three years, from Fall 2015 until Fall, 2018. We anticipate there will be annual knowledge exchange and network convenings, with the final comprehensive review of the research literature and an edited volume completed by the end of year three.

G. Scholarly Significance

Identifying and interrogating alternative interpretations of family-school-community partnerships broadens discussion about the kinds of communities that engage in education and their purposes for doing so. In addition, this international research network will contribute to democratic notions that citizens should be able to participate in decisions that affect their lives, and highlights advocacy and activism as essential elements in educational research, policy, and practice. It is our aim that this international research network will establish a broader international conversation and understanding of how cross-national community contexts and concerns might influence the educational reform and change process.

References

Bacon, J. K., & Causton-Theoharis, J. (2013). ‘It should be teamwork’: A critical investigation of school practices and parent advocacy in special education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(7), 682-699.

Barber, B. (2003). Strong democracy: Participatory politics for a new age. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Baquedano-López, P., Alexander, R. A., & Hernandez, S. J. (2013). Equity issues in parental and community involvement in schools: What teacher educators need to know. Review of Research in Education, 37(1), 149-182.

Chrispeels, J. (1996). Effective schools and home‐school‐community partnership roles: A framework for parent involvement. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 7(4), 297-323.

DiMartino, C., & Scott, J. (2013). Private sector contracting and democratic accountability. Educational Policy, 27(2), 307-333.

Duncan, A. (2010). Department proposes doubling federal funding for parental engagement [news release]. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2010/05/05052010.html

Epstein, J. (2011). School, family, and community partnerships: Preparing educators and improving schools (2nd edition). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Fisher, R., Fabricant, M., & Simmons, L. (2004). Understanding contemporary university-community connections: Context, practice, and challenges. Journal of Community Practice, 12(3-4), 13-34.

Flynn, G. V. (2011). Increasing parental involvement in our schools: The need to overcome obstacles, promote critical behaviors, and provide teacher training. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 4(2), 23 – 30.

Fogel, S. J., & Cook, J. R. (2006). Considerations on the scholarship of engagement as an area of specialization for faculty. Journal of Social Work Education, 42(3), 595-606.

Georgis, R., Gokiert, R. J., Ford, D. M., & Ali, M. (2014). Creating inclusive parent engagement practices: Lessons learned from a school community collaborative supporting newcomer refugee families. Multicultural Education, 21(3), 23-27.

Hands, C. (2013). Including all families in education: School district-level efforts to promote parent engagement in Ontario, Canada. Teaching Education, 24(2), 134-149.

Henderson, A.T., Mapp., K.L., Johnson, V.R. & Davies, D. (2007). Beyond the bake sale: The essential guide to family-school partnerships. New York: The New Press.

Henderson, A., & Mapp, K. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL).

Hoover‐Dempsey, K. V., Walker, J. M., Sandler, H. M., Whetsel, D., Green, C. L., Wilkins, A. S., & Closson, K. (2005). Why do parents become involved? Research findings and implications. The Elementary School Journal, 106(2), 105-130.

Hutchinson, N. L., Pyle, A., Villeneuve, M., Dods, J., Dalton, C. J., & Minnes, P. (2014). Understanding parent advocacy during the transition to school of children with developmental disabilities: Three Canadian cases. Early Years, 34(4), 348-363.

Kirst, M.W., & Wirt, F. M. (2009). The political dynamics of American education (4th edition). Richmond, CA: McCutchan Publishing Corporation.

LaLond Wyant, A. (2013). The University of Pennsylvania’s partnership with University City High School (Order No. 3564517). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.

LaRocque, M., Kleiman, I., & Darling, S. M. (2011). Parental involvement: The missing link in school achievement. Preventing School Failure, 55(3), 115-122.

Leithwood, K., Jantzi, D., & Steinbach, R. (1999). Do school councils matter? Educational Policy, 13(4), 467-493.

Lugg, C. A., & Robinson, M. N. (2009). Religion, advocacy coalitions, and the politics of U.S. public schooling. Educational Policy, 23(1), 242-266.

McDonald, L. E. (2013). In their own words: U.S. think tank “experts” and the framing of education policy debates. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies (JCEPS), 11(3), 28 pages.

McDonald, L. (2014). Think tanks and the media: How the conservative movement gained entry into the education policy arena. Educational Policy, 28(6), 845-880.

McLaughlin, M. W., Scott, W. R., Deschenes, S., Hopkins, D., & Newman, A. (2009). Between movement and establishment: Organizations advocating for youth. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Molnar, A. (2006). The commercial transformation of public education. Journal of Education Policy, 21(5), 621-640.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2003). Engaging citizens online for better policy-making. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/62/23/2501856.pdf

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2012). Let’s read them a story: The parent factor in education. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2010). Parents in partnership: A parent engagement policy for Ontario schools. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/involvement/PE_Policy2010.pdf

Opfer, V. D., Young, T. Y., & Fusarelli, L. D. (2008). Politics of interest: Interest groups and advocacy coalitions in American education. In B. S. Cooper, J. G. Cibulka, & L. D. Fusarelli (Eds.), Handbook of education politics and policy (pp. 195 – 216). New York: Routledge.

Orr, M., & Rogers, J. (2011). Unequal schools, unequal voice: The need for public engagement for public education. In M. Orr & J. Roger (Eds.), Public engagement for public education (pp. 1-24). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Pharis, T., Bass, R. V., & Pate, J. L. (2005). School council member perceptions and actual practice of school councils in rural schools. Rural Educator, 26(2), 33-38.

Pushor, D., & Murphy, B. (2010). Schools as protectorates: Stories two Mi’kmaq mothers tell. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy. Retrieved from https://www.umanitoba.ca/publications/cjeap/pdf_files/comm3-Pushor-Murphy.pdf

Raptis, H. (2012). Ending the reign of the Fraser Institute’s school rankings. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue canadienne de l’éducation, 35(1), 187-201.

Rottman, C. (2012). Forty years in the union: Incubating, supporting, and catalyzing socially just educational change. Journal of Educational Change, 13(2), 191-216.

Scott, J. (2009). The politics of venture philanthropy in charter school policy and advocacy. Educational Policy, 23(1), 106-136.

Spring, J. (2011). American education (15th edition). McGraw-Hill.

Stevenson, H. (2007). Restructuring teachers’ work and trade union responses in England: Bargaining for change? American Educational Research Journal 44(2), 224-251.

Stevenson, H. (2008). Challenging the orthodoxy: Union learning representatives as organic intellectuals. Journal of Inservice Education, 35(4), 455 – 466.

Young, L., & Everitt, J. (2004). Advocacy groups. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press.
Appendix A

List of Participants – Families, Educators, and Communities as Educational Advocates: Cross National Perspectives
Convenor

Lauri Johnson, Associate Professor
(Permanent Address)
Boston College
205C Campion Hall
Chestnut Hill, MA, USA 02467
lauri.johnson@bc.edu

(Until Sept. 1, 2015)
2014-2015 Fulbright Scholar and Honorary Research Fellow
University of Nottingham
C38 Dearing Building, Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham
NG8 1BB
UK
lauri.johnson@nottingham.ac.uk

Co-Convenors

Sue Winton, Associate Professor
York University
203 Winters College
4700 Keele Street
Toronto ON • Canada M3J 1P3
SWinton@edu.yorku.ca

Howard Stevenson, Professor and Director of Research
School of Education
University of Nottingham
Exchange Building
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham
NG8 1BB
UK
Howard.Stevenson@nottingham.ac.uk
Network Participants

Ty-Ron Douglas, Assistant Professor
University of Missouri, Columbia
douglastyr@missouri.edu

Michael Evans, Associate Professor
Miami University
mpevans16@gmail.com

Allison Gilliland, Ph.D. Student
University of Nottingham
alisongilliland.ie@gmail.com

Catherine Hands, Associate Professor
Brock University
chands@brocku.ca

Rodney Hopson, Professor
George Mason University
rkmhopson@gmail.com

Reva Joshee, Associate Professor
OISE, University of Toronto
rjoshee@oise.utoronto.ca

Muhammad Khalifa, Assistant Professor
Michigan State University
mkhalifa@msu.edu

Temple Lovelace, Associate Professor
Duquesne University
templelovelace@gmail.com

Peter Miller, Associate Professor
University of Wisconsin, Madison
pmmiller2@wisc.edu

Alison Milner, Ph.D. student
University of Nottingham
ttxam87@nottingham.ac.uk

Christine Nganga, Assistant Professor
South Dakota State University
ngangac@gmail.com

Michael O’Connor, Ph.D. Student
Boston College
oconnooq@bc.edu

Terry Wilkenson, Ph.D. student
York University
Terry_Wilkinson@edu.yorku.ca

Camille M. Wilson, Associate Professor
University of Michigan
camillew@umich.edu

Biographies of IRN Participants
Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Department at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His research explores the intersections between identity, community/geopolitical space, and the socio-cultural foundations of leadership and education, with an emphasis on Black masculinity/families, spirituality, and community-based pedagogical spaces. In May 2013, Dr. Douglas was awarded the Distinguished Dissertation Award by the Critical Educators for Social Justice Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) for his dissertation, “Border Crossing Brothas’: A Study of Black Bermudian Masculinity, Success, and the Role of Community-Based Pedagogical Spaces.” His work has appeared in outlets such as The Urban Review, Educational Studies, Teachers College Record, and Race, Ethnicity, and Education. Dr. Douglas is also a contributing author of Twelve Shades of Man: Testimonies and Transitions to Manhood, and an advocate and activist related to the healthy development of men and families.

Michael Evans is an Associate Professor at Miami University where he holds a joint appointment in the departments of Teacher Education, Educational Leadership and Family Studies & Social Work. Dr. Evans completed his Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction at Boston College. His research and teaching interests are focused on family, school and community partnerships with an emphasis on grassroots organizing as a school reform strategy. Evans was the recipient of the 2010 Outstanding Dissertation Award for the AERA Family, School and Community Partnerships SIG and selected as an emerging scholar for the William L. Boyd National Educational Politics Workshop. Dr. Evans is co-editor of the forthcoming book Promising Practices for Community-Based Educational Change.

Alison Gilliland is a Ph.D. student at the University of Nottingham who is based in the Republic of Ireland and researching teachers’ perceptions and experiences of their union as a vehicle for their professional aspirations. A part-time doctoral student, Alison is also a senior official of the Irish National Teachers’ Organization and a Dublin City Councillor.
Catherine Hands is an Associate Professor at Brock University, St. Catherines, Ontario, where she teaches in the Faculty of Education’s Administration and Leadership in Education program. Following a career as a teacher in the Montessori education system, Catherine has worked with Ontario school boards, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, and the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Parent Engagement Office as a researcher and consultant. Catherine’s research interests include school-community relations, family involvement in schooling, schools as communities, educational leadership, values and ethics in education, social justice, professional learning communities, and educational reform. She maintains an active research agenda in these areas, and has presented and published her work regionally, nationally and internationally.

Rodney K. Hopson is Professor, Division of Educational Psychology, Research Methods, and Education Policy, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University. Having formally taught primary school and adult education in Namibia, at the higher education level (community college and university) in southern Africa and United States, Rodney values cross-cultural, international, and comparative perspectives that allow him and his students to reexamine the key ideas and assumptions that shape the production of knowledge in his field. For years, in a collaborative effort with other colleagues, Rodney created a series of out of class experiences for students in a Social Justice required class for second year undergraduate and graduate students to apply their concepts of social justice in class projects and in developing community-university relationships.

Reva Joshee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Leadership Higher and Adult Education of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto where she teaches courses in multicultural education and policy analysis in both the graduate and initial teacher education programs. She is Director of the Centre for Leadership and Diversity (Co-Directors John Portelli and Jim Ryan) at OISE/UT. Her research examines issues of diversity and policy in India, Canada, and the United States. Her publications include a co-edited volume (with Lauri Johnson) called Multicultural Education Policies in Canada and the United States (2007, University of British Columbia Press) and chapters in several international collections on multicultural education and citizenship. She is also the Chair of the Advisory Council for the Mahatma Gandhi Canadian Foundation for World Peace and is increasingly structuring her academic life and work around Gandhian ideas of peace and peaceful practice. Her most recent research endeavor is a project with multiple school-, community- and university-based partners in India and Canada called the Peace and Human Rights Learning Exchange.
Dr. Muhammad Khalifa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University. Having worked as a public school teacher and administrator in Detroit, Dr. Khalifa’s research examines how urban school leaders enact culturally responsive leadership practices. Dr. Khalifa has recently published in the Teachers College Record, Kappan, QSE, Urban Review, EAQ, the Journal of Negro Education, and the Journal of School Leadership. He is coeditor of the forthcoming books, Becoming Critical: The emergence of social justice scholars (SUNY Press), and Handbook on Urban Educational Leadership (Rowan & Littlefield). Dr. Khalifa is engaged in school leadership reform in African countries, and has been helping U.S. urban schools perform equity audits to address achievement gaps and discipline gaps in school.
Dr. Temple S. Lovelace is an Associate Professor of Special Education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Her research interests include social justice and equity through a disability inquiry lens, as well as innovative classroom-based instructional and intervention strategies. Beginning in 2010, Temple spearheaded the revitalization of the widely successful Fusion program, which is a partnership between Duquesne University and Center of Life, a Hazelwood-based community empowerment organization. The Fusion program is a family engagement program that features homework assistance, STEM-focused interactive activities, and an academic intervention clinic for students in K – 12 grades. Taking family engagement to the next level, Fusion tutors the entire family by giving families the information they need to become advocates for the educational success of their children in local public schools.
Peter Miller is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison with training in leadership, policy analysis, and ethnographic research methods and extensive experience with research in contexts of youth and family homelessness. His work addresses community-based leadership, interagency collaboration, and both individual- and system-level issues of education policy and practice and has been published in a number of education journals. Peter recently served as the lead researcher in two large projects in the Midwestern U.S.: The Education in Diverse Places of Homelessness project and the Adams County Promise Neighborhood project. Peter is interested in extending his inquiry into diverse international contexts in the years ahead.

Alison Milner is a Ph.D. student at the University of Nottingham who is investigating the emergence of Free Schools in the UK and the responses of teachers and unions to recent government-sponsored neoliberal reforms.

Michael T. O’Connor, a doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction program at the Boston College Lynch School of Education, has research interests in literacy and school-community partnerships. In his current research project, O’Connor is exploring partnerships via community-based authentic audience interactions in secondary writing activities in rural schools.

Christine W. Nganga, Ed.D, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Leadership at the College of Education and Human Sciences at South Dakota State University. She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her research interests include narrative inquiry, inclusive leadership practice with a social justice focus, and mentoring. Her teaching focuses on multicultural and international education, and leadership practice. She recently co-founded the Sista Circle, a mentoring community group for female students and faculty from international contexts and underrepresented populations at her university. Her advocacy work is located in providing spaces for female students of color to establish relationships of trust and facilitate network building.
Terry Wilkenson is a Ph.D. student at York University, Toronto, Canada. Her dissertation work examines teacher advocacy for the inclusion of Design and Technology education in the English National Curriculum.

Camille M. Wilson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Michigan. Her research is interdisciplinary in nature and chiefly explores school-family-community engagement, urban education reform, and transformative leadership— all from holistic, critical, and culturally relevant perspectives. Dr. Wilson is co-editor of Advancing Equity and Achievement in America’s Diverse Schools: Inclusive Theories, Policies, and Practices (Routledge, 2014). She is a qualitative researcher who draws upon critical and feminist methodologies. Her current work focuses on community-based educational advocacy and activism within Detroit, Michigan’s complex school choice arena. Dr. Wilson strives to develop meaningful theories and practical solutions that inform educational practice and policy. Dr. Wilson has published widely in national and international journals and been an invited guest lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa and a visiting professor at the University of the West Indies-Cave Hill in Barbados.

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