Scholarship Overview

The bulk of my scholarly work focuses on the English Language Arts (the teaching of English in middle and high school). My primary focus is to highlight ways that teachers might engage students via culturally relevant and culturally sustaining texts (including young adult literature), empower them as individuals via multiple forms of self-expression (writing and public speaking), and thereby create lifelong readers and writers. I propose that the ELA classroom is the ideal place in which to engage students in controversial and therefore meaningful academic/intellectual conversations; it is a place where students should be encouraged to make connections between literary texts and "real world" events and issues. It should also be a place where students learn to write powerfully and personally rather than just academically. Conversely, I also explore how our public schools' myopic focus on test preparation is antithetical to these ends. It is my belief that ELA classrooms are increasingly segregated places wherein more privileged students—the students in honors, "gifted," AP, and IB classes—get enriching and engaging content while their less privileged peers—namely the students in "standard" classes—seldom encounter anything but abridged texts and short passages that are themselves matched to test-preparation questions and that are unrelated to engaging literature. This segregated form of ELA instruction is, ironically, occurring under the hegemonic guise of skill development: schools are discouraging some students from becoming readers by using a "skill-based" approach to making them stronger readers.

My other scholarship also tends to focus on issues of equity and social justice in education, albeit across a wider spectrum.  One of my areas of interest has been around uses of discourse in public spaces, especially classrooms. Schools tend to require and teach specific ways of speaking and knowing—what Lisa Delpit (1998) calls the "codes of power. These codes are based on the dominant culture. Unfortunately, schools too often dismiss or even demean other ways of speaking, thereby negating culturally-sustaining pedagogies and certain ways of knowing. When language and discourse are taught in an uncritical ways, they can easily become hegemonic and therefore alienating to the students we most need to empower.

Please see the document below for more information.