News and notes from across the UW-Madison School of Education

News and Notes

Ladson-Billings named next president of National Academy of Education

UW–Madison’s Gloria Ladson-Billings was elected the next President of the National Academy of Education (NAEd), the organization announced in December 2016.

The academy’s president is elected by its membership, which is a very select group of leading education experts from around the world. The NAEd supports research for the advancement of education policy and practice in the United States.

Ladson-Billings’ term begins in the fall of 2017. She was first elected to the academy 10 years ago.

Ladson-Billings is the School of Education’s Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education and is a leading pedagogical theorist and teacher educator. Ladson-Billings is a professor with the departments of Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Policy Studies, and Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

“As president, one of the things that I’d like to do is to increase the recognition of our brand — I don’t think a lot of people know what the academy is or what we do,” Ladson-Billings told “I’d also like to do more work with the other academies. I think that there’s some synergy there.”

WCER establishes new research-practice partnership with Madison Schools

A new alliance between the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and UW–Madison seeks to combine the expertise of district educators and university researchers to improve education.

MMSD and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER), part of the university’s School of Education, have worked together for many years on specific problems and focused research projects. Now the organizations are joining together in a more permanent structure to support ongoing research collaboration via the Madison Education Partnership (MEP).

MEP will address current challenges facing local schools, and produce relevant and cutting-edge education policy research. It’s being led by co-directors: Beth Vaade of the MMDS Research and Program Evaluation Office; Eric Grodsky, a UW–Madison professor of sociology and educational policy studies; and Eric Camburn, a professor and chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

MMSD schools serve about 27,000 children in grades 4K-12 from a rich diversity of family backgrounds. Approximately 18 percent of the district’s students are African American, 21 percent are Hispanic or Latino, and 43 percent are white. Twenty-eight percent of its students are English-language learners and 50 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Enright looking to plant seeds of forgiveness in Middle East

Robert Enright, who has pioneered the study of forgiveness in locations across the globe for three decades, is playing a leading role in assembling the Jerusalem Conference on Forgiveness for Peace, which is scheduled for July 12-13 at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center in Israel.

Enright’s forgiveness model is based on the premise that letting go of feelings of anger and resentment can be liberating.

Robert Enright
Enright says he believes it is the first conference ever held in the Middle East that focuses on person-to-person forgiveness and forgiveness education. The professor with the School of Education’s No. 1-ranked Department of Educational Psychology explains that this unique two-day conference is open to all who wish for a deeper understanding of forgiveness across the three best-known Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Enright has constructed a framework for teaching people how to forgive and how to see inherent worth in others. This step-by-step forgiveness process has been tested on groups ranging from incest survivors and children of alcoholics, to kids in classrooms in inner-city America, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Seoul, South Korea, to name a few.

And in each instance, Enright says that forgiveness has proven to be successful in improving themes such as anger, anxiety and depression. It’s this track record of favorable outcomes that is garnering Enright the unique opportunity to bring his forgiveness work to Jerusalem.

Posey-Maddox receives Spencer Foundation award
to study black families’ suburban schooling experiences

Linn Posey-Maddox this spring was awarded a grant from the Spencer Foundation to study black families’ schooling experiences in suburban America.

Posey-Maddox is an associate professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies. She is a scholar of urban and suburban education — with an emphasis on race, class and educational inequality — and is the author of the 2014 book, “When Middle-Class Parents Choose Urban Schools: Class, Race, and the Challenge of Equity in Public Education.”

Linn Posey-Maddox
Linn Posey-Maddox is using her Spencer Foundation award
to look at black families' schooling experiences in suburbia.
With the Spencer Foundation support, as well as backing from a UW–Madison Vilas Associate Award, Posey-Maddox in June started the project titled, “Black in the ‘Burbs: Community, Family, and Schooling in Suburbia.”

Posey-Maddox explains that although there is a recent shift of black families from major cities moving to the suburbs, there is relatively little research taking a look at black families’ schooling experiences in suburbia.

Posey-Maddox notes that the few studies examining this topic suggest that black students and their families face opportunity gaps and exclusion in suburban schools — which challenges the notion of these places as “good” schools.

Posey-Maddox’s research will examine black parents’ experiences and engagement in two distinct suburban communities — one mostly white, one mostly black — to understand how broader social inequalities linked to race, class, and residence are reinforced and/or reduced in local suburban contexts.

Posey-Maddox explains how she’ll use comparative case study methods to examine: how black mothers and fathers understand and experience life in the suburban communities; how parents engage in their children’s education; and the influence of race, social class, gender, and place in their experiences and relationships with school actors.

Around the School ... 

• Aaron Bird Bear was appointed the School of Education’s assistant dean for student diversity programs in February. In this role, Bird Bear is responsible for leadership around recruiting, supporting and retaining underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students, while also serving as the Multicultural/Disadvantaged Coordinator (MDC) for the School of Education.

Jill Barnes, an assistant professor of kinesiology, received a three-year International Research Grant from the Alzheimer’s Association earlier this year. The $150,000 award is to support research about “Brain blood flow in middle-aged adults at low and high risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.” The project is scheduled to start in July. Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, also with the School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology, is a consultant on the grant.

Dawn Crim, who has served as the School of Education’s associate dean for external relations since 2011, is leaving her post to take a leadership position with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Crim will begin her new appointment as assistant state superintendent for the Division for Student and School Success on Aug. 1.

• UW–Madison’s Noah Weeth Feinstein, with collaborators from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago-based artist Jenny Kendler, will develop and evaluate “Garden for a Changing Climate,” a mobile public art project and interactive event series. Comprised of a series of moveable planters of native Midwestern species, “Garden for a Changing Climate” directly embodies the otherwise largely invisible, slow and dispersed threat of climate change. “This project is right smack at the intersection of the two things I am most interested in right now: out-of-school science and climate change adaptation,” says Weeth Feinstein, an associate professor with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Erika Bullock in April delivered a keynote speech at the International Mathematics Education and Society Conference taking place in Volos, Greece. Bullock, an assistant professor of mathematics education with the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, gave a presentation titled, “Beyond ‘Ism’ Groups and Figure Hiding: Intersectional Analysis and Critical Mathematics Education.”

• UW–Madison’s Derrick Buisch and Faisal Abdu’Allah in December were named Joan Mitchell Foundation 2016 Grant Recipients. Buisch and Abdu’Allah are two of 25 recipients of the 2016 Painters & Sculptors Grant Program in the amount of $25,000 each. Both are faculty members with the School of Education’s Art Department.

Mindi Thompson has been selected to serve as a founding member of a new American Psychological Association Task Force on Developing Guidelines for Psychology Practice with Low-Income and Economically Marginalized Clients. Thompson is an associate professor with the School of Education’s Department of Counseling Psychology. She is a national-level expert on social class as a factor in mental health and psychological intervention.

• UW–Madison’s Lesley Bartlett and alumna Frances Vavrus are co-authors of a recently released book that examines a new and innovative way to conduct research of policy and practice across multiple social fields. The publication is titled, “Rethinking Case Study Research: A Comparative Approach.” Bartlett is a professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies. Vavrus earned her Ph.D. from the School’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and is now a professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.

• UW–Madison’s David Kaplan and colleagues at the German Institute for International Education Research recently published a new book examining the methodology and research behind the highly publicized Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) global education survey. The publication is titled, “Assessing Contexts of Learning: An International Perspective.” Kaplan, the Patricia Busk Professor of Quantitative Methods with the School’s Department of Educational Psychology, worked on this project during the 2015-16 academic year while he was visiting Germany as a Humboldt Research Award scholar.

• The Department of Theatre & Drama entertained audiences in 2016–17 with the clever “Stupid F*cking Bird,” the charming “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” a Hawaiian-set “Twelfth Night,” and the silliness of “The Underpants.” Looking ahead to 2017–18, the department will present a modern take on the classic “Our Town,” Mark Twain’s farce “Is He Dead?”, the cautionary satire “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui,” and the moving and thought-provoking “The Laramie Project.” 

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