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Recent Announcements

Past Announcements

On February 28th, four Literacy Teachers Initiative (LTI) Project Fellows and Dr. Jodene Morrell (Project Director) presented at the Ethnography in Research Forum 2015 in Philadelphia, PA at the University of Pennsylvania. For their session, "Middle Schoolers and Teacher-Researchers: Engaging Students through Poetry, Book Clubs, RTI Intervention, and Sketchbooks", they used a small group approach and each Fellow presented their action research projects to small groups of conference attendees, which created a more intimate and interactive session. Their individual presentations were as follows: 

Marie Clevering, Same Unit, Different Schools: Teaching through Book Clubs and Inquiry Groups

Lexie Fichera, Media and Mentors: Enhancing Student Engagement in Poetry

Lauren Scott, Beyond Notebooks: Using Sketchbooks to Motivate Students to Write

Andrew Wintner, Improving Writing and Vocabulary through RTI Intervention and Heterogeneous Grouping 

For more information on each research project and/or to request a copy of the Fellows' PowerPoint, please contact Dr. Jodene Morrell at


Literacy Teachers Initiative (LTI) Project Fellow Lakeya Omogun was recently selected to receive the Kappa Delta Pi Louise M. Berman Fellowship for 2014 - 2015. She began her practitioner research project titled, “Reading with Purpose and Responding with Action: Critical Literacy in a Harlem Classroom” at the beginning of the 2014 academic year with her 7th grade students at New Design Middle School situated in Community School District 5. Her year-long qualitative research project focuses on ways to engage students in critical literacy work, specifically the deconstruction and reconstruction of texts to understand social and political factors as they relate to power, privilege, and the positioning of both groups and individuals. She is currently teaching her students to critique how voices and images are portrayed through literature and how these may or may not accurately represent the diversity, cultures, and experiences of her students. Toward the end of the school year, the students will draw on their new knowledge of critical literacy to develop meaningful social action projects for their communities. Ms. Omogun is passionate about this research because she believes that learning to view all texts through a critical lens will not only improve students’ self-esteem and self-worth, but will positively enhance and improve their reading and writing abilities and performance. As an LTI Fellow, she plans to share her findings with a wide audience through publications and conference presentations.

About the Literacy Teachers Initiative (LTI) Project

The Literacy Teachers Initiative (LTI) Project is an innovative program with K-8 teachers in Harlem and Brooklyn that increases knowledge about effective culturally relevant literacy pedagogies and fosters engaging classroom practices and national collaboration among literacy educators. The LTI Project provides teachers an opportunity to work with colleagues, faculty and students at Teachers College, Columbia University to deepen pedagogic content knowledge. The program works to foster powerful culturally relevant literacy practices that meet the demands of standards, as well as the needs of diverse students and communities at the dawn of the 21st century. Teachers selected for LTI are “Fellows” of IUME and receive in school instructional support from faculty and graduate students at Columbia University. These teachers also have sustained engagements with Teachers College faculty, where they can learn from existing research as they develop powerful teaching strategies and innovative literacy classroom practices that increases academic achievement. In addition, they have the opportunity to share their expertise via local and national conferences and publications to other educators relating their work and experiences. This fits with our model that the answers to the most pressing educational questions are “in the classroom” and that teacher-leaders provide the best route to uncovering the most promising literacy practices today. We also believe that this learning is best facilitated through collaborations that link research and theory to practice and that provide opportunities for educators to share what they know with others via informal dialogues and formal publications and presentations. Further we believe that the best relationships are long-term, co-constructed, and participatory.


We are excited, and proud, to announce that Pamelyn A. Williams, a Literacy Teachers Initiative (LTI) Fellow, has recently been published in a new edited volume by esteemed scholar Sonia Nieto. Nieto's book, entitled Why We Teach Now, is published by Teachers College Press, and features teachers and practitioners discussing their craft and their experiences in the classroom. This is an incredible accomplishment, and speaks to the important work that teachers are doing every day. Pamelyn's chapter discusses her journey to becoming a teacher -- we applaud Pamelyn for sharing her story and representing LTI and IUME! 

For more information about the book, or to purchase a copy, please read below and click here. 

For more information about the Literacy Teachers Initiative (LTI), please click here.

About LTI Fellow Pamelyn Williams

Pamelyn is a 1st grade teacher at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School and has taught for 11 years in Harlem and the Bronx. She serves many roles including: UFT Chapter Leader, co-chair of the School Leadership Team, CookShop Coordinator, and on several other school committees. She has researched ways to inspire literacy through poetry with young children, adaptation of packaged curriculum with multicultural literature, and improving literacy through reciprocal teaching with her first graders. She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi and the New York State Reading Association. Pamelyn has presented her research at Teachers College, the New York State Reading Association annual conference and has contributed a chapter for a book to be published in 2014. Pamelyn was one of the original Fellows, joining LTI in spring, 2012.


About Why We Teach Now
Why We Teach Now dares to challenge current notions of what it means to be a “highly qualified teacher” á la No Child Left Behind, and demonstrates the depth of commitment and care teachers bring to their work with students, families, and communities. This sequel to Nieto’s popular book, Why We Teach, features powerful stories of classroom teachers from across the country as they give witness to their hopes and struggles to teach our nation’s children. Why We Teach Now offers us the voices of teachers like 42-year veteran Mary Ginley, who wonders, “Why would anyone with any brains and imagination ever want to be a teacher?” Who then answers her own question affirmatively, “It’s because somehow, even today, even with all the insanity, all the rules, all the poorly designed textbooks, all the directives to teach to the test, there are kids out there who need good teachers.” At a time when politicians, policymakers, and philanthropists are quick to denigrate teachers’ work and arrogantly speak for the profession,Why We Teach Now offers teachers the room and respect to speak for themselves. Once again, Nieto gives teachers and those who care about education the inspiration and energy to embrace their role as advocates—a role that is vital not only for the well-being of students but also for the future of the profession and our nation.

Veronica Holly, Assistant Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education, at Teachers College, Columbia University has been selected a 2012-2013 Senior Fellow, for the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Global Education Policy Fellowship Program (GEPFP). The GEPFP provides Senior Fellows with the opportunity to study education policy in the Age of Globalization by investigating education development challenges in economically developed and developing countries.

This years’ program includes a Study Tour of China’s education system, with a 10-day visit to Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai, China in the fall, and a policy briefing and analysis in Washington, DC. next spring.   The study tour will provide fellows with an opportunity to develop relationships with educators in China; visit schools, ministries of education, and other educational organizations; collect data relating to the policy analysis project; and visit historic and cultural sites in three Chinese cities.

“I am really anxious to take a first hand look at how China is dealing with its large urban migration in schools, and how it is addressing issues of inequity in its rural areas”, says Veronica. As a Senior Fellow, the program will serve to enhance Veronica understanding of the approaches that developing and developed countries are taking to ensure their education systems are preparing young people for a globally competitive economy, and will work to develop her global perspective of the United States’ efforts to ensure its schools are globally competitive.  Veronica will be in China October 18-28th.

We are pleased to announce that three IUME Research Fellows -- Cati de los Ríos, Jen Johnson, and Crystal Belle -- are recipients of the highly competitive Dean's Doctoral Research Fellowship for the academic year 2014-2015. Given out to a select handful of Teacher College, Columbia University Doctoral candidates, Research Dissertation Fellowship applicants pursue basic and applied research spanning diverse disciplines. This research should concentrate on advancing knowledge and show a strong likelihood of being accepted in the most well-respected research journals in the field of inquiry.

Congratulations, once again, to Cati, Jen, and Crystal for this wonderful accomplishment! Not only are these Fellowships a testament to the work being done by IUME scholars, but a testament to the innovative and cutting-edge critical scholarship being done by these extraordinary three women. Cati, Jen, and Crystal are each Ph.D. Candidates in the English Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University.

About Cati de los Ríos

Cati V. de los Rios is a PhD student in the Program of English Education. Her research interests include the aesthetic contours of Chicana/o-Latina/o critical literacies, immigration & curriculum studies, emergent bilingualism, sociocultural theories of learning, feminist and critical pedagogies, youth activism, and high school Ethnic Studies. She received her B.A. in Chicana/o Studies and Spanish Literature from Loyola Marymount University, an M.A. in Theological Studies &  Secondary Education from Harvard University, and an Ed.M. in Curriculum & Teaching from Teachers College. Cati’s roots in education arise from four generations of women critical educators in the highlands of Chihuahua, México. A previous Spanish, ESL, and Ethnic Studies Teacher, she created and implemented one of the first College Preparatory “Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies” high school courses and programs in Southern California which she taught in for many years. Her work included the bridging of her classroom with local Day Laborer Centers and university level Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies courses at the Claremont Colleges to produce community action research projects, Social Justice Posadas, K-12 Raza Studies "Encuentros," and spaces for empowered youth identity development. She also worked as an Adult ESL instructor in both California and Massachusetts for several years. Cati currently supervises TESOL M.A. candidates through the Teaching Residency @ Teachers College Program and is a Core Member of New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE). Her writing has most recently been published in The Urban Review and the Journal of Latinos and Education.

About Crystal Belle

Crystal Belle is an educator, freelance writer and poet. She has done extensive research on hip-hop as a Watson fellow, in which she traveled around the world exploring the significance of hip-hop in urban communities. Her travels took her throughout West Africa, South America, Europe and the Caribbean. She performs at performance poetry events in New York City and beyond on a regular basis. Belle is the author of Woman on Fire, a collection of poetry, which explores issues of body image, self-love, urban education, feminism and Africa/Diaspora relations. She is currently working on her second collection of poetry and a novel. Her poetry is featured on her blog at Belle is currently working on a multimedia project called Testing the Waters with the Hip Hop Theater Festival which documents the lives of high school students and their experiences with testing. Crystal is a Doctoral student in the Department of Arts and Humanities in the English Education program  at Teachers College.



About Jen Johnson

Jen Johnson is an educator, community organizer, and social entrepreneur. She is a doctoral student in English Education at Teachers College and she currently holds two fellowships, one with IUME and one with the Hip Hop Education Center at New York University where she received her Masters of Arts in Media, Culture and Communication.  Her work is dedicated to the economic, political, cultural, and social empowerment of young leaders through debate education and Hip-Hop culture. She is a former high school and college debater who has coached debate for thirteen years.  Since 2001, she has directed two non-profits and Urban Debate Leagues in seven school districts. She has taught debate institutes at numerous colleges and universities, and has partnered with dozens of public schools, social justice organizations, Hip-Hop artists, and community leaders from around the country. She was formally the executive director of the Seattle Debate Foundation, a 501(c)(3) social justice organization committed to the critical literacy and empowerment of urban youth through debate education. Her groundbreaking work in Hip Hop debate education received national and international acclaim including recognition in Newsweek Magazine and Zip Radio in Japan, and her work has been modeled cities around the United States.  In 2008 she was named a finalist for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King County Executive Awards for Excellence in Hip Hop and in 2009 she was a finalist for the NYU Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship. Her forthcoming curriculum will be published in the Hip-Hop Education Guidebook Volume II. Jen received her BA in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley where she found her passion for urban debate education, critical and culturally relevant pedagogy, and critical literacy. She currently brings her passion and commitment to the education and empowerment of young leaders by coaching Hip-Hop debate in Brooklyn. Her ultimate goal is to expand these opportunities to young people and educators around the globe. She believes that through the power of debate and Hip-Hop we can connect, build, create, and envision a world with endless possibilities.

Congratulations to IUME Research Fellow and Doctoral Candidate in English Education, Crystal Belle, for appearing in the latest online issue of the Journal of Black Studies. Crystal's new article, "From Jay-Z to Dead Prez: Examining Representations of Black Masculinity in Mainstream Versus Underground Hip-Hop Music," is an example of innovative and powerful scholarship that we, as an Institute, are immensely proud of. Crystal's work on Black Masculinitiy is ground-breaking, and we are excited to announce the publication of this work. To access the article directly, please click here.

Article Abstract
The evolution of hip-hop music and culture has impacted the visibility of Black men and the Black male body. As hip-hop continues to become commercially viable, performances of Black masculinities can be easily found on magazine covers, television shows, and popular websites. How do these representations affect the collective consciousness of Black men, while helping to construct a particular brand of masculinity that plays into the White imagination? This theoretical article explores how representations of Black masculinity vary in underground versus mainstream hip-hop, stemming directly from White patriarchal ideals of manhood. Conceptual and theoretical analyses of songs from the likes of Jay-Z and Dead Prez and Imani Perry’s Prophets of the Hood help provide an understanding of the parallels between hip-hop performances/identities and Black masculinities.

About the Journal of Black Studies

For the last third of a century, the Journal of Black Studies has been the leading source for dynamic, innovative, and creative research on the Black experience. Poised to remain at the forefront of the recent explosive growth in quality scholarship in the field of Black studies, the Journal of Black Studies is published six times per year. This means a greater number of important and intellectually provocative articles exploring key issues facing African Americans and Blacks can now be given voice. The scholarship inside Journal of Black Studies covers a wide range of subject areas, including: Society, Social Issues, Afrocentricity, Economics, Culture, Media, Literature, Language, Heritage, and Biology. 

In connection with the Institute's goals of research and information dissemination, we are excited to announce that IUME Director Professor Ernest Morrell will be editing a new book series that is currently accepting new proposals.This series will be intricately tied with the Institute as we look forward to your readership and ideas. Read below for full details.


FOCUS: Youth and Childhood Culture


Under the editorial guidance of series editor Professor Ernest Morrell of Teachers College, Columbia University, PETER LANG PUBLISHING (New York, New York) is pleased to invite book length manuscripts and book ideas for its newly initiated editorial program series focusing on “Black Studies and Critical Thinking” (BSCT). BSCT is an interdisciplinary series that offers a unique opportunity to study the social, economic, and political forces that have shaped and continue to shape the lives and experiences of Black Americans. Under this area, Professor Morrell is seeking specific manuscripts that examine Blacks in Youth and Childhood Culture—For example, Media and Popular Culture, K-12 Education, and Community and Cultural Wealth. Potential topics could examine: Youth in elementary and secondary education; Youth as consumers and producers of popular culture, the construction of black childhood and black adolescence in media and popular culture, neighborhood and non-school intervention programs in the Black Community; youth experiences in homes and families; and other topics.
If interested, you are invited to submit a BOOK PROSPECTUS to Professor Ernest Morrell which contains the following information: 1) author’s name, title affiliation and mailing address; 2) book rationale—2-3 pages; 3) scope of book and proposed length---2-3 pages; 4) audience and competition—1-2 pages; and expected manuscript completion

Ernest Morrell, Ph.D.
Professor, English Education
Director, Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME)
Teachers College, Columbia University
525 W. 120th Street, Box #183
New York, New York 10027


Charles payne

Edmund Gordon [right] with Ernest Morrell, his successor as IUME Director.
Photo Credit: Heather Van Uxem Lewis

Puncturing the stereotype of “the wounded Negro” was the focus of the noted educator and African American historian Charles M. Payne in delivering the inaugural Edmund Gordon Lecture, delivered at TC in early October.

“There’s a reduction going on,” Payne said.  Even among well-intended activists for progress, “black people are reduced to their oppression.”

Payne – the Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor in the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and former Chief Education Officer for Chicago Public Schools – traced the evolution of the “wounded-Negro” trope across past social movements. The abolitionists employed it by mobilizing slaves to tell “horrible personal stories,” Payne said, while the “friends of the Negro would handle the analysis part.” The Depression-era Communists similarly portrayed black people as oppressed workers rather than as protagonists “developed enough” to be capable of Marxism’s “scientific analysis of society.”

Payne’s lecture was accompanied by a tribute to Edmund Gordon, TC’s 93-year-old Richard March Hoe Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education, who attended the event along with his wife and partner on much of his work, the physician Susan Gordon. Both the lecture and the event were part of TC’s Educating Harlem Project, a collaboration between the College’s Program in History and Education and the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME), which Gordon founded in 1973, with support from TC’s Center on History and Education.

“I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t cite or quote Ed Gordon,” TC President Susan Fuhrman said in her opening remarks. “Our concerns about equity, assessment, diversity – everything we think about at TC, which is so focused on its mission of social justice – has been shaped by his thinking,.”

Black thinkers like Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Ralph Ellison exposed and rejected the “wounded Negro” as belittling of individuality and experience, Payne said, but the image endured, in part as a useful device for “friends of the Negro not above trading on Negro suffering.” The stereotype also played to the activists’ narratives of themselves as heroes or saviors. Payne pointed out that some black leaders spun their own versions of the theory as well.

Payne suggested that the “wounded Negro” thesis lives on in the argument advanced by many current education reformers that “schools can’t do it alone.” In the 1970s, he said, the claim that African-American children were handicapped by cultural factors and the purported breakdown of the black family was “right out there in front.” Today, he said, it still lurks in arguments that poverty and other out-of-school factors “overwhelm the capacity of schools” to deliver positive outcomes.

In the process, Payne said a conservative argument has become one held by progressives. “Isn’t it bizarre when conservatives are saying ‘Kids are fine,’ while progressives are saying, ‘Fix poverty before we fix schools?’ The world is standing on its head!”

Payne took care to emphasize he was not arguing against poverty reduction or other out-of-school programs. “We all agree that poverty should be addressed,” he said. “But that has nothing to do with what schools can or cannot do.”

The variation in “performance metrics that actually matter” suggests there is plenty of scope for positive change at the level of school systems, Payne said. He cited the wide variations in gains in math and reading proficiency scores on the National Assement of Education Progress (NAEP) from near-stagnation in some places to successes in others, like Montgomery County, Md., and Boston, where “change is very real.”

Of course, out-of-school factors could play a part in the success stories as well, Payne said. But what is lacking is the data and rigorous analysis to sort out what progress comes from the “thinking and action of school leaders” versus other factors. At present, he said, too much school-level thinking is tangled in sterile debates over closing schools and firing teachers.

A more productive way forward, he argued, would involve shedding the residue of the “wounded-Negro” theory that manifests itself in the “reductionist discourse of every kid in the ghetto.” In fact, he said, needs are individual and many children are very close to being able to succeed. “Some kids need the Marine Corps, but some need just one more positive adult for 15 minutes a week,” Payne said.

Present debates, Payne argued, “don’t take into account that the majority of poor children and parents don’t experience schools as welcoming places. We need to figure out what happens when schools systematically make the effort to help kids feel they belong. Once we do that at some level of scale, only then can we know what schools can and cannot do.”

Deferring school-level investment of resources and study, Payne said, means falling back on reductionist, discredited notions of race and capability -- and it’s disrespectful to educators: “Emphasizing what schools can’t do before we look at what they can do insults generations of people who insisted on making a way out of no way.”

The power of Payne’s remarks were underscored by the tribute to Gordon, who in many ways has devoted his career to debunking damaging stereotypes of African Americans.

“You can talk about the all the fields in which he is an expert, or the methodological dexterity, or the number of people whom he has mentored and been a legend to, but perhaps his key contribution is that Professor Gordon is as responsible as anyone for seriously reframing the way we have thought about the young peop;le we teach, the families they come from and the neighborhoods they live in, not as deficits, but as possibilities,” said Morrell. “You change your perceptions and all kinds of things become possible – and that is the gift he has given us over 65 years as an intellectual, an advocate, a mentor, a professor, a scholar, a director and an administrator.”

Gordon himself closed the evening by thanking Teachers College and “so many of you who have made the journey for me so rewarding. Perhaps the best reward for my efforts, and for my wife’s companionship in trying to make our contributions, is the people like our speaker tonight and my successor as director of IUME, and about 75 to a hundred young scholars like them. It’s worth living to 93 to be able to see them.”


TC's Ernest Morrell Selected as 2014 AERA Fellow

Ernest Morrell, Professor of English Education and Director of TC’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education, is one of 22 scholars who have been named 2014 Fellows of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  

The AERA Fellows are selected based on their notable and sustained research achievements. They are nominated by their peers, selected by the AERA Fellows Committee and approved by the AERA Council, the association’s elected governing body. The 2014 Fellows will be inducted during the AERA 2014 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, joining the 557 current AERA Fellows

Morrell is known for his research and teaching in the fields of literacy, critical pedagogy, cultural studies, urban education and ethnic studies. He currently serves as President of the 40,000-member National Council of Teachers of English. His books include Critical Literacy and Urban Youth (2007); The Art of Critical Pedagogy: Possibilities for Moving from Theory to Practice in Urban Schools (2008, with John C. Andrade); and Becoming Critical Researchers: Literacy and Empowerment for Urban Youth (Counterpoints: Studies in the Postmodern Theory of Education) (2013).
Prior to coming to TC in 2011, Morrell served on the faculty in the Urban Schooling Division of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). As Associate Director of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA), he has worked with high school students in Los Angeles on in-school and out-of-school literacy instruction, cultural studies, and civic involvement.

Under Morrell, IUME has launched the Edmund Gordon Lecture series and the first Educating Harlem conference; cosponsored “Testing Then and Now,” a day-long conference sponsored this past fall  by TC’s Assessment and Evaluation Research Initiative; and advanced projects such as Youth Historians in Harlem, the Literacy Teachers Initiative, the Ethnic Studies Project and Cyphers for Justice. This spring IUME will introduce a new conference, “The Trayvon Effect,” focused on racial profiling.

“AERA Fellows exemplify the best of research in terms of accomplishment, quality, mentoring, and the highest professional standards,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “We welcome the class of 2014 to these ranks.” 


For More Information:
Veronica Holly
Assistant Director
Institute for Urban and Minority Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
212-678-3413 Tel


(NEW YORK, April 1, 2013) – The NCAA Championships Community Programs and Youth Clinics, in partnership with YES Inc., and the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME) at Teachers College, Columbia University will present “A Healthy Mind, Body, and Community” Youth Day Program to approximately 400 middle-school students during the 2013 Men’s Final Four® Basketball Youth Day program on Friday, April 5, 2013 in Atlanta.

The program will take place at the Georgia World Congress Center, and will provide students from the Fulton County School System with an opportunity to gain a stronger understanding of the benefits of community service and maintaining a healthy mind and body. IUME partnered with the NCAA® to foster partnerships that promote institutional services in the community, as well as civic engagement and social responsibility among youth.

“IUME and Teachers College, Columbia University are very excited to be a part of the NCAA Final Four® Youth Day,” said Veronica Holly, IUME assistant director. “We’ve designed an exciting program that’s both fun and informative for middle-school students around important topics students navigate each day. We are also pleased to be able to assist YES Inc., our Harlem community incubation partner, forge a meaningful educational partnership with the NCAA®.”

The program will include a public service presentation on the importance of community service, as well as an art education collage making session on maintaining a healthy mind and body, focusing on topics such as leadership, diversity, fitness and nutrition, self-esteem, teamwork and anti-bullying.

“Partnering with IUME and Teachers College for this year’s Youth Day is a natural fit for the NCAA®,” said Victor Hill, NCAA® associate director of championships community programs and youth clinics. “The addition of engaging and informative programming at the Final Four Youth Day will greatly benefit those in attendance.”

“As a former student deeply involved in collegiate athletics, I am extremely appreciative for the opportunity to work with the NCAA® and excited for the prospect of combining IUME’s resources with the NCAA® in pursuit of society’s greatest good -- enhancing the lives of youth,” said Barry Goldenberg, Teachers College master’s student and IUME research fellow. “We are all eager to collaborate with the NCAA®, and our other partners on achieving this important goal.”

“I've had the opportunity to work on amazing projects connecting the community with Columbia,” said Cyndi Bendezú-Palomino, Teachers College master’s student and IUME research fellow. “IUME is unique because of our connection to the community in Harlem and NYC. We have a distinct vantage point of connecting youth participatory action research with the community along with several projects supporting youth leadership development. NCAA® Youth Day is an amazing opportunity that will allow us to work with youth and engage them on timely topics while having fun."

The NCAA® presented IUME incubation partner YES Inc. with the opportunity to develop its Youth Day program and YES Inc. generously expanded the partnership to include IUME. “It is a honor for YES Inc. to be attached to this first of a kind experience that will positively touch lives of students and a city," said Russel Shuler, Chief Executive Officer, YES Inc.

“As a former NCAA® student-athlete in football at Syracuse University, this project holds a special place in my heart. During my college career, I competed against the University of Georgia in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. We were victorious on the field, but it was the wonderful experiences associated with the Atlanta community that left a lasting impression on me as student. Returning to the city of Atlanta as a professional in this capacity is an honor and we are extremely proud to have created this opportunity for IUME to work with us in partnership with the NCAA®. Youth Education through Sports, Inc. is committed to making the Men’s Final Four Youth Day a special day for all of the participating middle school students who will be attending. Engaging youth through this event with a focus on community service and healthy lifestyles is truly a pleasure.”

“The Identity Orchestration Research Lab (IORL) at Morehouse College is pleased to work with the Institute for Urban and Minority Education for NCAA® Youth Day,” said Professor David Wall Rice of Morehouse College. “The activity of authentic engagement with community is cornerstone in the type of education and development that both Teacher's College and Morehouse offer. To have the opportunity to collaborate in the best interest of Fulton County school students is a terrific opportunity afforded by the NCAA® that demonstrates a special kind of investment in our future.” The Identity Orchestration Research Lab at Morehouse College is committed to high caliber research through a strengths-based personality psychology lens. The Lab explores expressions of identity balance through the authentic engagement of varied contexts and personal narratives. 15 to 20 students from the IORL will serve as co-instructors during the Youth Day morning program.

YES Inc. is one of six incubation partners IUME has in the Harlem community. IUME’s Technical Assistance and Incubation Program provides advice, technical direction, program development and managerial support to Harlem-based non-profit organizations, and works to encourage a network of supplemental education services throughout the Harlem area. For almost forty years, IUME has used advocacy, demonstration, evaluation, information dissemination, research and technical assistance to study and seek to improve the quality of life chances through education in the communities of urban and minority people. The Institute continues to focus on the implications of population diversity in the context of the demand for pluralistic competencies for the design and management of teaching and learning transactions in schools and other environments for education.


IUME Director Ernest Morrell and IUME Research Fellow and current Doctoral Student Catí de los Ríos are featured in  the latest edition of Esteem Journal, where Cati interviews Professor Morrell on a variety of topics. 


Who and what influenced your passion for literacy as child and young person?


The three people who influenced my ideas about literacy most as a child were my mom, my dad, and my grandma. We all lived on same street in East Oakland: 107th Avenue. My grandma had 9 kids and they all lived in Oakland when I was a youth. Most of them had kids, so there were a ton of us, like 50 of us on this block, and my grandma was the default babysitter. She worked the swingshift, so she would go to work afterschool when my parents got home and she’d still get up in the morning to watch us. She was pretty incredible and in her 50s. My parents were in the process of going back to school to become educators. We lived in a part of town that, you know, they wanted something more for us and the family. So I can think of explicit messages that they gave us that to me were really about who they were as examples of literate people, people who were reading books, people who were thinking serious thoughts.  And it was a time in the neighborhood… it was 1970s and The Black Panthers… so literacy and being articulate and having a voice was pretty esteemed. There was also this undertone that you had to be smart and that you had to be literate if you were going to survive. Watching my grandma and parents enact that was powerful, and as powerful as those examples were, there were a lot of counter examples…folks who did not have an education, people walking the street, people unemployed. So I think they instilled in me two things that were important: one, this is possible, two, this is necessary… and sometimes I think young people get the message that this is necessary, but not enough people show them it is possible. I needed both at a very young age. And you know, I talk a lot to my sons about this. I can’t remember a time where my notion of literacy was not politicized, or where I didn’t associate a literate identity with some kind of political enterprise, that we had to help our people, help our neighborhood. You had to be smart so that you could change things, so that you could speak truth to power, stop police brutality, end poverty. Being literate was associated with being powerful, and being powerful was associated with helping the community.

Click here to visit Esteem Journal and read the full interview.

Dr. Ernest Morrell, IUME Director and Professor of English Education, will be releasing two books this month that continue to represent the leadership role IUME is playing in the 21st century literacy education for city youth.

The first book that Dr. Morrell has co-authored and will be released by Teachers College Press is entitled, "Critical Media Pedagogy: Teaching for Achievement in City Schools," part of the the Language and Literacy Series. Book signings will take place at AERA and IRA, in addition to spring and summer events to promote the book.

From the Press Release:
This practical book examines how teaching media in high school English and social studies classrooms can address major challenges in our educational system. The authors argue that, in addition to providing underserved youth with access to 21st-century learning technologies, critical media education will help improve academic literacy achievement in city schools. Critical Media Pedagogy presents first-hand accounts of teachers who are successfully incorporating critical media education into standards-based lessons and units. The book begins with an analysis of how media have been conceptualized and studied; it identifies the various ways that youth are practicing media, as well as how these practices are constantly increasing in sophistication. Finally, it offers concrete examples of how to develop a rigorous, standards-based content area curriculum that embraces new media practices and features media production.

''In this important new book the authors present a compelling case for broadening the way we think about literacy in relation to the 'new media.' Through compelling case studies, they examine the ways in which youth engage this medium both as active participants and producers of new, original content. The result is a new way of conceptualizing literacy, one that will push the reader to reconsider how we think about youth (particularly urban youth of color) and their capacities for learning and critical thinking.'' --Pedro Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, New York University

''This book is at once a trenchant critique of shallow and de-politicized approaches to teaching and learning, and a deft and illuminating commentary on the possibilities of recovering education for a transformative future. An invaluable feat for education!'' --Peter McLaren, Professor, the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, UCLA

Dr. Morrell has also co-edited the current volume of the United Kingdom journal, Learning, Media, and Technology (Taylor and Francis), entitled "City Youth and the Pedagogy of Participatory Media." This volume includes scholars from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa who are sharing research on innovative practices in media education. This special issues will be widely disseminated on a global scale. 

About the Journal:
Learning, Media and Technology is an international, peer-reviewed journal that aims to stimulate debate on the interaction of innovations in learning and educational theory, practices, media and educational technologies. Media and technologies are interpreted in the broadest sense, to encompass the internet and online resources, digital broadcasting, and other new and emerging formats, as well as the traditional media of print, broadcast television and radio.

Learning, Media & Technology analyses such questions from a global, interdisciplinary perspective in contributions of the very highest quality from scholars and practitioners in the social sciences, communication and media studies, psychology, cultural studies, philosophy, history as well as in the information and computer sciences.

For more information about this journal, visit their website here.

IUME is excited to humbled to announce that New York City Urban Debate League--whom IUME partners with and provides both programming and resources for--has been honors by President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. PCAH, chaired by First Lady Michelle Obama and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, had recognized the New York City Urban Debate League as a Finalist for the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.  This prestigious award "distinguishes (us) as one of the top arts and humanities based programs in the country."  

More about the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH):

Created in 1982 under President Reagan, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues.  The PCAH works directly with the three primary cultural agencies—National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—as well as other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines and to recognize excellence in the field.   Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education, cultural exchange, and creative economy.

Under the leadership of the First Lady and PCAH’s Honorary Chairman, and through the efforts of its federal and private members, the President’s Committee has compiled an impressive legacy over its tenure, conducting major research and policy analysis, and catalyzing important federal cultural programs, both domestic and international.  These achievements rely on the President’s Committee’s unique role in bringing together the White House, federal agencies, civic organizations, corporations, foundations and individuals to strengthen the United State’s national investment in its cultural life.  

Central to the PCAH mission is using the power of the arts and humanities to contribute to the vibrancy of our society, the education of our children, the creativity of our citizens and the strength of our democracy.

Visit the official website for further information.

Present-day knowledge and technology may be insufficient to meet the
changing demands of the U.S. education enterprise

Princeton, N.J. (April 28, 2011) — Concerns over current and future emerging changes in the U.S. education enterprise have led one of the nation's premier educational psychologists, Professor Edmund W. Gordon, to lead a two-year study group — the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in K–12 Education.

The commission will consider what educational assessment will look like, and what it should be capable of doing now and through the middle of the 21st century, given the possibility that the present-day knowledge and technological bases for educational assessment could be insufficient to meet the changing demands of the education enterprise in the next 40 years.

Dr. Gordon, a professor emeritus at both Yale and Columbia Universities says, "We need to address these changes now in order to improve the educational opportunities for all people and drive innovation in educational assessment. The work of this commission will be completely transparent and serve to inform teaching and learning in the pursuit of excellence and equity in education."

Comprising more than 20 of the most distinguished scholars in the fields of education sciences, psychometrics, and public policy, and chaired by Dr. Gordon, the commission will try to determine whether future assessments and practices in education should be the same as, or different from, the past and present in terms of:

  • Purpose
  • Structure and design
  • Modes of delivery and scoring
  • Uses of instruments and assessment data
  • The management and interpretation of assessment, program, and student characteristics and performance data

"It is critical that we further examine how to effectively tap into emerging research and development in order to improve teaching and learning through assessment and the better use of educational measurement." Dr. Gordon adds, "Just as the paradigms for education are shifting, our models for assessment will need to change — perhaps moving from a primary concern for accountability and prediction to a greater focus on descriptive diagnosis to inform teaching and learning transactions."

During year one the commission will explore: what education is expected to become and should be by 2050; what will be the consequent demands on the educational assessment enterprise; and what technical and theoretical solutions to those demands are conceivable.

During year two the commission will turn its attention to the development of specifications for procedures, instrumentation, data management systems and administrative policies and practices that are appropriate to the identified changing demands, as well as the development of policy positions that are responsive to those demands.

Professor Gordon expressed the appreciation of his Commission members and himself to Educational Testing Service for the initial funding and logistical support provided for the Gordon Commission, but stressed that the Commission will conduct its work autonomously and independently. Professor Gordon indicated that the Commission will seek additional funding from other corporate, public and philanthropic sources.

About the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in K–12 Education

A two-year study group comprised of thought leaders, trailblazers and innovators in academia, research and policy, the Gordon Commission seeks to harness emerging developments in the pedagogical, cognitive and technological sciences to improve K–12 educational assessment — now and into the mid-21st century. Its mission is to analyze the best assessment practices and our nation's current and future educational needs, and generate recommendations that will improve pedagogical practice, educational measurement and student achievement. 

For more information on the Gordon Commission please contact Paola Heincke, 609-683-2153, or

Two of America’s most influential advocates for improving the life outcomes of children from underprivileged backgrounds were honored on March 7th during an awards ceremony meant to recognize their lifetime achievements.

Diverse Issues in Higher Education  presented its distinguished John Hope Franklin Award to Dr. Edmund Gordon, a longtime research scientist, a prolific writer on the subject of academic achievement and educational equity and an original architect of the federally funded Head Start program; and Marian Wright Edelman, founder and longtime leader of the Children’s Defense Fund, a national organization that has for decades pushed for policies that improve the quality of life for the nation’s poorest children.
This is the seventh year that Diverse has presented the John Hope Franklin Award, and the first year the award presentation has been incorporated into the annual meeting of the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C.
Maya Minter, Diverse’s  vice president of editorial and production, says both Gordon and Edelman embody the principles of the award’s namesake, a noted historian who played a critical role in creating the framework for Brown v. Board of Education.
Minter says the late Franklin would have found nothing more encouraging than for the education community to come together to see both Edmund and Edelman receive the award named in his honor.
Of Gordon, Minter says,  “He and Dr. Franklin represent the very essence of intellectual excellence and integrity in research and scholarship.”
Minter describes Edelman’s Children’s Defense Fund as “the most powerful voice ever created for the millions of poor children in the United States.”
Indeed, both Gordon’s and Edelman’s advocacy on behalf of poor and minority children has defined a significant challenge of the 21st century, which is to improve the life quality and life chances of such children ensure the nation’s future.
Gordon has done this through research and scholarship, while Edelman has focused on policy. Both of their contributions have pushed higher education to tackle the issues of K-12 education and child welfare more aggressively than would likely have otherwise been the case.
Gordon holds a series of distinguished academic posts, including director of the Institute for Minority and Urban Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is also currently working alongside Educational Testing Service senior researcher Dr. Michael Nettles on a project that deals with what educational tests and assessments will look like in the coming years.

The project, known as the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment, is just one of several projects that will build upon a monumental legacy that includes helping to design and launch Head Start — the nation’s longstanding federally funded pre-school program for disadvantaged youth

“[Head Start] has made enormous contributions to not just the academic health, but the physical and mental health of millions of people in the country,” Nettles says. “And now, here we are half a century later and people are establishing pre-school as the foundation for closing the achievement gap.”

Interestingly, Head Start is one of the many programs Edelman has fought for at the helm of the Children’s Defense Fund, says Minter. The CDF also supports programs providing health care, immunizations, nutritious food and educational opportunities for poor children and their families.

Dr. Johnnetta Cole, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and a past John Hope Franklin award recipient, called Edelman an “amazing and grace-filled champion for all of our children.”

“Observing and supporting her efforts in the interest of every child, and serving as the president of her alma mater, Spelman College, are among the great joys and privileges in my life,” Cole says. “It will be a great event when my heroine, Marian Wright Edelman, receives an award that bears the name of my hero, John Hope Franklin.”

This year’s award was presented at the 93rd annual ACE conference at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Past recipients of the award include: Dr. Clifton Wharton, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Maya Angelou, and Dr. William Friday.