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Using innovation to broaden equity in education

Innovation, university partnerships key to equity in schools, experts say.
February 5, 2016

Teachers College panelists see university partnerships as key to better education for all

Universities can be a key player in getting good education to poor students, and several experts said that innovation as promoted at Arizona State University is the way to do it.

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College explored the idea “Think Big” at its 10th annual summit, held Friday at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Mari Koerner, dean of the Teachers College, started out teaching poor students in Chicago, where her classroom was a trailer.

“It was a long time ago and we’re still talking about these issues. Why? To whose advantage is it that there are children who remain uneducated?”

Still, she said she’s optimistic.

“At no other time in history has there been the wealth and the education available to people in the U.S.,” she said at the panel discussion.

“People in America, especially in the Southwest, really think we can change things and that tomorrow will be better than today.

“We get so settled into our jobs that we don’t even realize we’re innovative,” she said.

Among the innovations in the Teachers College are the iTeachAZ preparation program, which places teacher candidates into classrooms with mentors and site coordinators for a full year rather than a semester, and a technology-infusion initiative.

That attitude of adaptation is key to improving equity, one education leader said.

“The door to that is the university,” said Patricia Tate, superintendent of the Osborn Elementary School District (shown in the photo above, at right). “It opens the door to disruption. When you have researchers knocking on the door saying, ‘Let’s try this, and I say ‘here’s the teacher.’

“I would never work in a district that was not connected to a university,” said Tate, whose district was in a classroom-technology partnership with ASU that provided iPads and teacher training.

The educators added that innovation doesn’t mean constant revolution.

“The definition of innovation is not the throw it out — it’s to make it better,” said Jaime CasapIn his role, Casap launched Google Apps for Education and he said ASU was the first university to participate. He also is an adjunct professor at ASU., whose title is chief education evangelist for Google.

“I talk to superintendents all over the country about giving teachers the space to try things and say, ‘This didn’t work but here’s my idea to make it better.’ "

Mari Koerner (left) dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, leads a panel that includes Jaime Casap, chief education evangelist at Google, and Maria Harper-Marinick, executive vice chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges, at Chase Field in Phoenix Feb. 8. Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton addressed the educators at the summit, and thanked them.

"What this school is doing, producing the top talent and motivating people who could make a lot more money doing other things but commiting their lives to children — the community and I owe you a huge debt."

The panelists said that for education to improve for all students, a change in attitude is required.

“The rational arguments don’t seem to move people,” said Jackie NortonNorton is former vice president of the Arizona State University Foundation and has a law degree from ASU., president and CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Arizona, which has programs to boost achievement in high-needs schools. “I think it’s the perception that not all kids deserve to be educated. There’s also a ‘deserving’ factor. ‘Are they here illegally? Are they paying taxes?’

“How do we get to peoples’ core beliefs? You can’t change them, but we can address them.”

Maria Harper-Marinick, executive vice chancellor and provost of the Maricopa Community Colleges, agreed.

“As long as we keep thinking ‘those kids’ and not ‘my kids,’ it won’t bring real equity,” she said.

“We need to bring equity without apology. It’s not about equality, it’s about equity. Some people need a little bit more.”

Harper-Marinick, who was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in a dictatorship, said that support of public education throughout the entire spectrum is a key.

“There was no public education as we know it. I never had access to libraries,” said Harper-Marinick, who came to ASU on a Fulbright scholarship. “When I saw Hayden Library — six floors of books. That feeling of access to information without fear — knowing that nobody was going to jail if Maria was reading about — I can’t tell you the feeling of liberation that is. It’s the appreciation of the right to an education without fear.

“Funding K12, community colleges, the state’s public universities is a necessity because it’s the model that works.”

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now


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All the world's a stage

Gender, sexuality & HIV/AIDS prevention on roster for new ASU prof Marlon Bailey
ASU School of Social Transformation is "interdisciplinarity on steroids.”
February 5, 2016

New ASU faculty Marlon Bailey studies performance as a means of identity, cultural formation

When the June 2015 issue of Vanity Fair hit the stands last summer featuring Caitlyn Jenner wearing an ivory bodysuit on its cover, the magazine caused a maelstrom. Never before had so much public attention been given to transgender issues, and everybody had an opinion.

While many expressed shock and confusion, the idea of a natural-born male choosing to gender identify as female is nothing new to Arizona State University associate professor of women and gender studies Marlon Baileypictured above, photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now.

One of the newest faculty members in the School of Social Transformation, Bailey has done extensive research on gender and sexuality. Still, in a society that has an almost compulsory need to define its constituents, he understands the reaction to Jenner’s revelation.

“When we’re dealing with this world where everything is in these boxes, sometimes those who venture outside of the boxes, they’re not legible; we don’t know what to do with them,” he said.

Active in theater from a young age, Bailey went on to attend a performing arts high school in his native Detroit, and spent much of his collegiate career researching black theater, in particular. After receiving his master's in fine arts in acting from West Virginia University in 1994, he taught in theater departments at various universities, including Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and the University of Michigan-Flint.

It was around that time that Bailey decided to take stock of his academic career, and discovered that he felt limited by his master's, which only allowed him to teach in certain departments.

“I always had an interest in research and knew I wanted to work on some aspect of black LGBT life,” he said.

So he decided to pursue his doctorate at the University of California-Berkeley on a whim. Upon applying, Bailey was pleasantly surprised to discover that among UC Berkeley’s faculty at the time was well-known black feminist Barbara Christian. He and Christian spoke often throughout his application process, and he was excited to begin working alongside her. Unfortunately, she passed away during his first semester at Berkeley.

Undeterred, Bailey forged ahead in pursuit of his academic goals.

“I wanted to look at the ways in which, for black LGBT communities, race, gender, sexuality and class intersect and shape their experiences. And I wanted to do it from an interdisciplinary framework, through performance, because that was my background,” he said.

Over time, he became interested in exploring how performance can be a means of communicating one’s experiences and identity.

“When I started studying performance theory, that’s when I got into gender performance in everyday life,” Bailey said, “and performance of sexual identities, and performances as part of a cultural formation, which is what my book ended up being about; a study of this particular black, LGBT cultural formation that relies heavily on performance as a core feature of the way in which it evolved, the way in which it practices, celebrates, affirms, critiques.”

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His 2013 book, “Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit,” (pictured at left) received the Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize from the GL/Q Caucus at the Modern Language Association. It also led him to another of his research interests, performance in relation to HIV/AIDS prevention among black LGBT communities.

“A dimension of my ethnography looks at the impact of HIV on the ballroom community and how they respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” Bailey said. “So I’m bringing performance to bear on a social problem that this community, I argue, deals with through performance.”

By that point, he was teaching at the University of Indiana and was called upon by the state of Indiana to conduct an HIV/STD/STI viral hepatitis needs assessment for men who have sex with men. The yearlong study ended up in a 300-plus page report, which he handed over to the Indiana State Department of Health to be used as a reference for improving HIV prevention and treatment services.

Out of that came the basis for his forthcoming second book, “Black Gay Sex and Subjectivity in the Age of AIDS.” Funded by a National Institutes of Health flow-through grant to the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, Bailey’s pilot study for the book looks at what it means to be black and gay. Part of finding that out requires looking at how black gay men’s relationships with their parents impacts their sexual development, something Bailey laments is understudied.

“Part of what I would like this research to do at some point is to provide some way to create a knowledge base for some way of helping parents, particularly black parents, deal with their black children who are gay or lesbian or transgender or queer,” he said.

His research into the subject will continue at his new home, ASU, where he found himself after his colleague and close friend Rashad Shabazz encouraged him to apply. Shabazz himself recently joined the School of Social Transformation as an associate professor of justice studies.

“Throughout our years working together, we would say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we were at the same university?’ but we thought that would never happen. And now here it is, it happened,” Bailey said.

“I’m still trying to grapple with what has happened. First of all, I would have never imagined that I would be in Arizona. I would have never imagined that I would be in such a school that is so perfect for what I do, what I believe in, how I understand knowledge production … it’s interdisciplinarity on steroids.”

As a sexuality scholar, Bailey asserts that interdisciplinarity is imperative to the kind of work he does:

“Women and gender studies has been a home where sexuality studies has emerged as a major field and is really giving [women and gender studies] its interdisciplinary identity. Sexuality studies done in women and gender studies makes it necessarily interdisciplinary, and necessarily, in my view, more effective, and more informative, more transformative.”

With the semester already underway, Bailey’s enthusiasm has yet to wane.

“I’m very excited about this new transition in my life, and I look forward to exploring it more,” he said. “I also hope that more students and people will look at the School of Social Transformation. It’s very unique, and not just unique to ASU; it’s unique in the country.”