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Learn More About Urban Education

Leaders Changing the Face of Urban Education

Barack Obama
President of the United States of America

"At this defining moment in our history, preparing our children to compete in the global economy is one of the most urgent challenges we face. We need to stop paying lip service to public education, and start holding communities, administrators, teachers, parents and students accountable. We will prepare the next generation for success in college and the workforce, ensuring that American children lead the world once again in creativity and achievement.”

Barbara A. Sizemore, Ph.D. (1927-2004)
Superintendent of Schools, Washington, D.C., 1973-75
Educational Consultant, 1975-77
Associate Professor, Professor, Interim Chairperson, Department of Black Community, Research and Education at University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 1977-92
Professor emeritus, University of Pittsburgh, 1992-
Dean, School of Education, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, 1992-98
Professor emeritus, DePaul University, 1998-.

“So, I reached in my case and got out the scores for his school," she recalls. "I said, 'You don't care that 52 percent of your students are in the bottom half of the country? That's what I am trying to do; I'm trying to teach your child how to read.”

Paulo Freire (1921-1997)
The Brazilian educator Paulo Freire is among the  most influential educational thinkers of the late 20th century. Born in Recife, Brazil, on September 19, 1921, Freire died of heart failure in Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 2, 1997. After a brief career as a lawyer, he taught Portuguese in secondary schools from 1941-1947. He subsequently became active in adult education and workers' training, and became the first Director of the Department of Cultural Extension of the University of Recife (1961-1964).

Freire quickly gained international recognition for his experiences in literacy training in Northeastern Brazil. Following the military coup d’état of 1964, he was jailed by the new government and eventually forced into a political exile that lasted fifteen-years.

In 1969 he was a visiting scholar at Harvard University and then moved to Geneva, Switzerland where he assumed the role of special educational adviser to the World Congress of Churches. He returned to Brazil in 1979.

Freire's most well known work is Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970).

“The trust of the people in the leaders reflects the confidence of the leaders in the people.”

Cornel West, Ph.D.
One of America's most provocative public intellectuals, Cornel West has been a champion for racial justice since childhood. His writing, speaking, and teaching weave together the traditions of the black Baptist Church, progressive politics, and jazz. The New York Times has praised his "ferocious moral vision." Currently the Class of 1943 Professor at Princeton University, Dr. West burst onto the national scene in 1993 with his bestselling book, Race Matters, a searing analysis of racism in American democracy. Race Matters has become a contemporary classic, selling more than half a million copies to date.

Dr. West graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and has a Ph.D. from Princeton.

“A fully functional multiracial society cannot be achieved without a sense of history and open, honest dialogue.”

Haki Madhubuti, Ph.D.
As poet, publisher, editor and educator, Haki R. Madhubuti serves as a pivotal figure in the development of a strong Black literary tradition, emerging from the era of the sixties and continuing to the present.

“Language in the context of the working poem can raise the minds of entire civilizations, speak to two-year-olds, and render some of us wise. To be touched but living poetry can only make us better people. The determined force of any age is the poem, old as ideas and as life-giving as active lovers.”*

*Copyright © 2009 National Public Radio®. All rights reserved.

Terrie Epstein, Ph.D.
Terrie Epstein is the Coordinator of the Adolescent Social Studies Education Program. She is an affiliated faculty member of the CUNY Graduate Center's Ph.D. Program in Urban Education, where she teaches courses on urban pedagogy.

Lisa Delpit, Ph.D.
Executive Director /Eminent Scholar, Center for Urban Education & Innovation, Florida International University.

Arnetha F. Ball, Ph.D.
Professor of Education at Stanford University and Visiting Barbara A. Sizemore Distinguished Professor of Urban Education at Duquesne University, has been voted president-elect of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

“Unresolved language issues affecting the academic success of speakers of non-prestige varieties of English still require further research to better understand how to achieve more effective teaching and learning in school and non-school settings.”

Carl A. Grant, Ph.D.
Carl A. Grant is a Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and of African-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is a former teacher and administrator in the Chicago public schools. Professor Grant has written or edited many books on multicultural education and teacher education.

Emma C. Mosley, Ph.D.
A member of Duquesne University’s Counseling, Psychology, and Special Education Department since 1991, Dr. Mosley is a Nationally Certified Counselor; Secondary School Counselor; member of the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development; the NAACP; and the Institute for Intercultural Communication. She brings her own African American and Native American cultural backgrounds as well as her extensive experiences working with marginalized communities to her classes on Multicultural Issues and Strategies in Counseling.

Carol D.Lee, Ph.D.
Carol D. Lee has developed a theory of cultural modeling that provides a framework for the design and enactment of curriculum that draws on forms of prior knowledge that traditionally underserved students bring to classrooms. Dr. Lee is active in the school reform movement in Chicago Public Schools and has taught in both public and private schools before assuming a university career.

“The problem in education in the United States historically has been that schools have largely focused on the historical legacy of particular groups of people and excluded that of others…”

Pedro Noguera, Ph.D.
Pedro Noguera is the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University. Noguera is an urban sociologist whose scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in the urban environment.

“We must avoid the tendency that has become popular in some political circles to blame teachers and unions for the failings of our schools. Unions must play a greater role in addressing the performance of their members, but we must also acknowledge that if unions were the problem, the South would have the best schools.”

Lisa Lopez Levers, Ph.D.
An Assistant Professor of Education at Duquesne University, Dr. Lopez Levers received a year-long Fulbright grant to Botswana to teach graduate courses at the University of Botswana's Counselor Education Program and conduct research for her project entitled "Sustainable HIV/AIDS Abatement Endeavors in Southern Africa: Considering Contextual Factors and Designing Culturally Relevant and Gender-Sensitive Counseling and Education Activities." She currently teaches Master and Doctoral students in Counselor Education and Supervision while making periodic trips to Africa to continue her research.

"The sooner we intervene with children at risk, the greater the possibility becomes that we might prevent serious problems later in life."

Gretchen Givens-Generette, Ph.D.
Appointed Associate Professor of Education, Dr. Generette joins Duquesne University after teaching at Robert Morris University and in the Graduate School of Education at George Mason University. Her research interests are in foundations of education, qualitative research methodology, cultural studies and women's studies. Generette has authored and co-authored numerous publications and has presented at state, regional and national conferences. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina.

Terri L. Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Current Associate Professor in the department of Instruction & Leadership in Education at Duquesne University, Terri Rodriguez received her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research includes Socio-cultural theories of language and literacy education; Middle and secondary level pre-service teacher preparation in English/Language Arts education; Social justice frameworks in teacher education; Latino/a critical race theory in education; and Narrative and qualitative approaches to research.