UCLA Ed&IS Magazine, Fall 2022

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INVENTING THE ALPHABET: The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present page 4

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The book paints a troubling picture of an education system that advantages the privileged, where students of color are walled off from opportunity by deeply ingrained racial inequalities, and schools that fail to provide the preparation they need to access and succeed in college.

THE WALLS AROUND OPPORTUNITY: The Failure of Colorblind Policy for Higher Education

Professor Gary Orfield discusses his perspective on social and economic barriers to higher education.

FIRST GENERATION COLLEGE PERSISTENCE: University-Assisted Schools and Their Influence on College Degree Attainment

An in-depth look at the importance and long term impacts of university-assisted schools on the first-generation college student population.


Ed& IS


Embodying the principles of individual responsibility and social justice, an ethic of caring, and commitment to the communities we serve.

2 Message from the Dean

4 Inventing the Alphabet: The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present

An excerpt of the new book by Johanna Drucker, the Martin and Bernard Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, chronicling the story of the intellectual history through which the alphabet has been “invented” as an object of scholarship.

10 The Walls Around Opportunity: The Failure of Colorblind Policy for Higher Education

An excerpt from the book and Q&A with author Professor Gary Orfield about his perspective on social and economic barriers to higher education.

18 Teaching and Learning at 31 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A study looking at how teachers and students saw the effects of online and hybrid learning differently during the pandemic. Research by Jia Wang, Deborah La Torre, Linda Adreani, Lauren Kinnard, and Seth Leon of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA.

24 Literacies of Love: Trauma, Healing, and Pedagogical Shifts in an English Classroom

Excerpt of award-winning dissertation by Sharim Hannegan-Martinez, Ph.D., ’20, synthesizing existing research in the fields of public health, social epidemiology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, ethnic studies, and education to achieve a more robust understanding of trauma, its effects, and the under-theorized but agreed upon intervention to child trauma: loving relationships.

30 First Generation College Persistence: University-Assisted Schools and Their Influence on College Degree Attainment

Excerpt from the dissertation by Sarah Bang, Ed.D., ’20, executive director, UCLA California Institute on Law, Neuroscience & Education. An in-depth look at the importance and long term impacts of university-assisted schools on the first-generation college student population, one of the most high-risk populations for college non-persistence.

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Christina Christie, Ph.D. UCLA Wasserman Dean & Professor of Education, UCLA School of Education and Information Studies

Laura Lindberg Executive Director External Relations, UCLA School of Education and Information Studies


Leigh Leveen Senior Director of Marketing and Communications UCLA School of Education and Information Studies lleveen@support.ucla.edu


Joanie Harmon Director of Communications UCLA School of Education and Information Studies harmon@gseis.ucla.edu

John McDonald Director, Sudikoff Family Institute jmcdonald@gseis.ucla.edu


Robin Weisz Design

© 2022, by The Regents of the University of California seis.ucla.edu

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 The research outlined in this issue of the magazine showcases how we are hard at work developing the next generation of scholars and professionals who are our future.

UCLA Ed & IS faculty, students, and alumni possess innate curiosity and diverse expertise about the world of education and information. In this issue of the UCLA Ed&IS magazine, we are proud to highlight this curiosity and expertise by sharing a sampling of work produced by members of our extended community. The magazine’s cover feature dives into the cultural history of the alphabet, something we may take for granted as a basis for everyday communication and learning. Breslauer Professor Johanna Drucker of the Department of Information Studies meticulously brings to life the millennia of scholarship that exists on the alphabet.

Professor Gary Orfield’s new book, The Walls Around Opportunity: The Failure of Colorblind Policy for Higher Education, looks at higher education’s responsibility to create access to opportunity. In Professor Orfield’s words, “while families of color share the dream of higher education, racial inequality hinders that dream for many [and] colorblind policies have made college inaccessible for far too many students.” Through outreach and scholarship, our community is committed to righting this imbalance, and Professor Orfield’s work shines light on a path forward.

A new study from researchers at the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing at UCLA (CRESST), “Teaching and Learning at 31 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” gives us valuable insight into the experiences of students and teachers as they navigated online learning during the pandemic.

We are also excited to highlight the work of our alumni. Sharim HanneganMartinez, Ph.D. (’20, Ph.D., Education), now an assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky, was Professor Danny Solórzano’s student. We feature an excerpt from her dissertation, Literacies of Love: Trauma, Healing, and Pedagogical Shifts in an English Classroom, which explores the pedagogy of loving relationships.

Sarah Bang, Ed.D. (’99, B.A., Sociology; ’09, M.A., Teacher Education Program; ’20, Ed.D.) was a founding staff member of UCLA’s first university-assisted K–12 school, the UCLA Community School. Her dissertation, First Generation College Persistence: University-Assisted Schools and Their Influence on College Degree Attainment, highlights the value and promise of this pioneering research-based education model.

Ed&IS has always been mission-driven and committed to the communities we serve. Our collective work is impactful at the local, national, and global levels. The scholarship we describe in this issue showcases just a few of the many ways we are hard at work developing generations of scholars and professionals— individuals who represent hope and promise for our future.

In unity—Tina

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The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present

“Inventing the Alphabet” is a comprehensive intellectual history of alphabet studies. The book provides the first account of two-and-a-half millennia of scholarship on the alphabet. Drawing on decades of research, Johanna Drucker, the inaugural Martin and Bernard Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, chronicles the story of the intellectual history through which the alphabet has been “invented” as an object of scholarship.

Drucker dives into sometimes obscure and esoteric references, dispelling myths and identifying a pantheon of little-known scholars who contributed to our modern understandings of the alphabet, one of the most important inventions in human history.

Drucker aims to dispel the misconceptions surrounding the existence of more than one alphabet—the myriad of letter forms throughout the world are actually considered as script—as well as the links between the original alphabet that was created around 1700 BCE and the alphanumeric notation that provides the infrastructure for the internet.

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Ed&IS: Why is the alphabet such an important invention?

Johanna Drucker: The one thing that is important for people to understand is that the alphabet was only invented once, in the ancient Near East, in a cultural exchange between cuneiform writing in the north and hieroglyphic writing in the south and amongst speakers of Semitic languages, sometime around 1700 to 1400 BCE.

When people think about different alphabets they’ll say, “Like Arabic? That can’t be the same as our alphabet, right?” They are confusing alphabet and script. Script is the different letter forms. If you think about Cyrillic writing for Russian, that’s a script. But the sequence of letters, the names of letters, and what we call the powers of letters—that is, the sound that’s associated with them—are the same across all alphabetic scripts.

The first letter in Arabic [script] is the alif, and that is the same as the alef [in Hebrew] which is the same as the “a.” The letters look really different. Part of that has to do with the way that the letter forms are made, what the technologies were, and so forth, and also, modifications over time. But there is only one alphabet.

What is mindboggling to me is that the alphabet that was invented around 1700 BCE undergirds the entire global communication system of the internet. That gives me chills. Alphanumeric notation—and that does include the Arabic numerals which were a later invention—that is what global communication depends on.

shirts, hats, underwear, pants, socks, shoes, right? If you wanted to dress somebody as an 18th Century buccaneer, those categories would be linked to a library, and what would come onstage would be the buccaneer who is dressed in this kind of pants, this kind of socks, this kind of shoes. So, the scripts are styles of letters.

Now, some scripts have more characters, and some scripts have less. Again, that has to do with adaptations that are necessary for different languages. Some languages have different sounds and one of the amazing things about the alphabet and its creation is that it depends upon the capacity to distinguish sounds in speech, knowing how many there are, and which ones are meaningful.

To me, this is an amazing intellectual achievement. If I said to you, “As a speaker, you know nothing about linguistics. I want you to analyze English as you use it and tell me how many sounds there are.” You couldn’t do that. I couldn’t do that. Could you, listening to a native Japanese speaker, know how many sounds there were in that language that are meaningful? So, what happens in the ancient Near East around 1700 BCE is that there is a sufficient understanding of the sound structure of language to begin to make a set of signs to represent those sounds.

This is why the history of the alphabet ends with Unicode, because Unicode is a meta-level description of the number of kinds of things (glyphs, not sounds, in this case) that you need to distinguish, in order to register any script for communication. It’s an information issue [that] gets really fascinating because Unicode inventories libraries of scripts.


How does the book address the alphabet from a global variety of cultures and traditions?

Drucker: It’s such an important point, because of the confusion between alphabet and script. You know what a pair of pants is. You know it can be loose and wide-legged, it can be as tight as skin, it can buckle at the knees, it can go up to your waist or hang on your hips. So, think about scripts as style, and think about the letters as the set of categories of things.

If I’m using the clothing analogy to get someone dressed, I might want to know how many categories I need. I might have headgear or what is worn on the torso, you can make the classification any number of things. You might use more vernacular:

Ed&IS: How do magical and angelic alphabets relate to an understanding of the more commonly recognizable alphabets?

Drucker: This is such a fascinating subcategory. There are a lot of script forms that we think first emerged around the beginning of the Common Era that were used for incantations. And when the ancient Near East was beginning to be excavated by people like Henry Layard and other explorers, in the ruins of Nineveh and ancient Assyrian palaces and libraries they find incantation bowls [with] really interesting signs on them that are not associated necessarily with the actual alphabet. And then, it turns out they kind of are.

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They’re magical alphabets called ring letters. Imagine if you had the letter “A” and on its feet you had open circles, and on its top too. It turns out that these ring letters are associated with magical properties, and by the Middle Ages, there’s a whole mythology that says these ring letters are actually copied from constellations of stars which shows that the origin of letters was a gift from God, because these are natural signs in the heavens that have been used as the basis of letters.

And then there are all kinds of alphabets that have idiosyncratic histories. There’s one called Adam’s Alphabet and it was supposedly given to Adam by God. One is associated with Noah. One was supposedly given to Abraham by the Angel Raphael as he entered Canaan.

There is a very limited set of these magical and angelic alphabets. They have a stable graphic form, but they’re never used for writing texts, so they exist as exemplars. This is incredible because most of what we know about scripts comes from the fact that they are in use for documents, labels, texts, and inscriptions. Imagine that you have a set of 26 or 28 signs and they stay stable across hundreds of years just transmitted as images. These magical and angelic alphabets just get passed down as visual graphic examples.

The ring letters are really part of Jewish Kabbalah tradition and they show up in that particular world. But the angelic alphabets show up in Christian cabala as well, and in medieval lore. There’s a mythic explorer named Aethicus Ister who supposedly traveled to the East and came back with this incredible alphabet that shows up in manuscripts all over Europe in the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Centuries. It showed up in Germany and in the British Isles, incredible.

Think about what it means to have had a copy of that in medieval Europe.

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 What is mindboggling to me is that the alphabet that was invented around 1700 BCE undergirds the entire global communication system of the internet.

Ed&IS: How do you hope to open your readers’ eyes to the origins of the alphabet and the importance of this history?

Drucker: The book is also a history of knowledge [about] the alphabet. There are fantastic scholars of Semitic epigraphy, which is the study of inscriptions in Semitic languages, incredible archaeologists who recover remains [of language]. They can find some little scrap of ceramic that has one and a half signs on it, and they can identify the place, the date, the source of this particular pair of signs [to] help reorient the history of the alphabet. It’s like finding some little piece of DNA that says, “Between this chimp and this orangutan, there was this piece in between.”

Incredible scholarship, but what no one has done is to trace the intellectual history. In other words, it would be like if you studied the history of education and you knew that there were principles that had to do with child-centered education, child psychology, development, and learning abilities. You had all the principles of education, but you never heard of Paulo Freire, you never heard of John Dewey. It’s as if the knowledge of the field has been lifted out of its history.

What I’ve done is to go back and look at that whole, and all these intellectual lineages of knowledge, production and transmission. That’s why it took 40 years. The amount of research just finding the references is so intense that I had been tracking some of them for years and years and years. What I said to a friend earlier today was that when I found the two-volume work by Isaac Taylor from 1899 on the shelf in Doe Library at Berkeley titled “The Alphabet” I thought, “The one thing I want to do in my life as a scholar is to be sure that this intellectual lineage is brought forward to another generation, because it’s just all lost.”


Modern Archaeology: Putting the Evidence of the Alphabet in Place


The first major Phoenician monument discovered on native soil was found near the ancient coastal city of Sidon, and it caused a popular and scholarly sensation. Before this, the only identifiable Phoenician inscriptions (besides a pair of inscribed pillars from Malta) were those on coins, the earliest of which might date to the fifth century BCE. But on February 22, 1855, Aimé Peretié, a diplomat attached to the French consulate to Beirut, was walking southeast of the site of the ancient coastal city of Sidon, apparently looking for signs of treasure in what he believed to be an ancient cemetery. Peretié’s attention was drawn to a disturbed area of rubble and debris. Investigation led him, and the workmen he had hired, through a series of shafts to underground chambers. Here they discovered royal tombs. While they did not come across gold or other treasure hoards, what they found was, arguably, infinitely more valuable. In what was later labeled Tomb V, they unearthed an intact sarcophagus carved in Egyptian style bearing a magnificent Canaanite (Semitic) language inscription written in the Phoenician script, now known to date to the fifth century BCE. News spread that for the first time, a monument had been found in situ in the lands associated with the history to which the inscription would attest. This discovery provided evidence for a wide range of scholarly investigations—historical, philological, paleographic, and biblical. Accounts of the discovery spread quickly, and their details provide a picture of technologies of knowledge distribution in the mid-nineteenth century, as well as information the artifact provided about the alphabet.

American missionaries made hand-drawn copies of the inscription and sarcophagus on site. According to a contemporary account, one of these drawings was made by Dr. C. V. A. Van Dyck, a member of the Albany Institute (among the oldest museums in America), who was in Syria at the time. He immediately sent the drawing back to his colleagues in upstate New York. Another copy went to a scholar in London (M. le chevalier Bunsen) who passed it to a M. Dietrich, a scholar in Marburg with knowledge of Semitic languages. Other copies of the drawings were produced,

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 The discovery of the Phoenician inscription made in Sidon, in the heart of ancient Phoenicia, had already caused a great sensation in the scholarly world; everyone was impatient for the decipherment of the epigraph, which contained around a thousand characters.

and attempts at decipherment or translation followed immediately. However, since the inscriptions had been copied by hand by persons who had no familiarity with the unknown script, they proved to be flawed, hampering attempts at accurate analysis (some of the characters were illegible).

In April 1855, just a few months after the discovery, Van Dyck’s drawing was presented to the Albany Institute’s Society, and in May 1855, a translation of the inscription by Messrs. Salisbury and Gibbs was published in the New Haven Daily Palladium, one of many to follow.

Meanwhile, after quarrels with the English consul about ownership rights were resolved, the object was removed from the subterranean tomb near Sidon by the French. A contemporary witness described a ceremonial procession: a team of oxen pulled a cart bearing the weighty sarcophagus trimmed with flowers and palm leaves along a rocky route to a French vessel, La Sérieuse. The entire population of the city turned out to watch and cheer its progress. When the oxen failed in their efforts to keep the cart moving along a sandy track, the stalwart sailors of the French navy lent their physical strength and spirit to the undertaking. The object, carefully swaddled and protected, was loaded onto the ship, which set sail for France. Attributing a “Phoenician” identity to the artifact was (and arguably still is) an act of colonial appropriation. The term is anachronistic, “an heirloom of Western reception” from classical antiquity, since there is no record of any entity (“ethnic, political, or national”) “that understood or labelled itself Phoenicia.” However, the term has become ubiquitous in the literature to identify the region, the people, and the script. It will be used here—though it should be remembered that like all nomenclature for geographical regions,

peoples, and languages, it has a complex history.

In August 1855 came the announcement that the noble and very wealthy French antiquarian Monsieur le Duc de Luynes had acquired the object and was donating it to the Louvre. Luynes created squeezes from the inscription and published the results, along with a translation of the text transcribed in Hebrew letters. This technique provided more accurate images than the drawings of the American missionaries, and on the basis of these improved facsimiles, new translations were produced. The sarcophagus and its inscription spawned a rapid flurry of publications. In an 1856 account, published barely a year after the discovery, the Abbé J. J. L. Bargès summarized the many responses the inscription had provoked. They are telling for their desire to situate the object within biblical historical periods rather than the modern ones then emerging:

The discovery of the Phoenician inscription made in Sidon, in the heart of ancient Phoenicia, had already caused a great sensation in the scholarly world; everyone was impatient for the decipherment of the epigraph, which contained around a thousand characters. Some believed it was contemporary with Moses; others dated it to the time of Abraham; yet others, braver still, assigned it to an era before the universal Flood, certain that it had been the threat of the cataclysm threatening to swallow the globe and all of its inhabitants that had caused the king mentioned in the inscription to have this sarcophagus carved in basalt, an extremely hard stone, before he died and to place it in a tomb cut from the living rock two meters below the surface of the earth.

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By 1859, nearly a dozen different translations had been produced and circulated widely enough that a scholar named William Turner could inventory each author’s reading of every glyph and sign in the inscription. In his inventory, Turner noted 324 individual variants of the twenty-two letters in the Phoenician inscription, pointing out where the reading of the text depended on careful (and debatable) understanding of the glyphs. The text furnished precious information on the language spoken by the Phoenicians about 500 BCE, and no inscription of any length in this tongue had ever been found before. Turner stated that the writing was “traced by a firm hand, trained and skilled” except for the first few lines which “showed some inexperience of the engraver with the tool.” Indeed, the inscription shows a mature state of the letterforms, highly standardized, their right-to-left direction and regular angles, size, and orientation expertly executed. The text was a funerary inscription for King Eshmunazar II warning ordinary and royal persons alike not to disturb the coffin of the dead king and threatening misfortune should they do so.

Turner made an attempt to date the inscription through a combination of historical and paleographic evidence, comparing the state of the writing with other inscriptions, particularly some recorded by Richard Pococke in Cyprus in 1743 and inscriptions found at “Marseilles, Carthage, Citium, Malta, Athens, and most of the coins of Phoenicia and the neighboring regions to the north.” The chief point of this discussion was to emphasize the significance of the inscription’s having been found in “Phoenicia proper.”

Turner characterized the Phoenician language as close to biblical Hebrew and

therefore useful as “a direct contribution towards elucidating the language of the Hebrew Scriptures.” The term biblical Hebrew designates an archaic branch of the Canaanite Semitic language in use by the tenth century BCE. He noted the absence of the matres lectionis (“mothers of reading”) and other details in the inscription’s orthography. Like the other scholars involved in these translations, Turner had not seen the original artifact, only the various reproductions of its inscription. But his work showed how rapidly epigraphic methods and historical analysis could advance given such a rich piece of evidence.

This first discovery of a Phoenician inscription in situ merits considerable attention because it profoundly changed historical knowledge and inquiry. Successive discoveries built a more complete picture of the history of the kings of Sidon, and with each new inscription, the inventory of letterforms increased along with the capacity of scholars to identify even the smallest variations among them. Meanwhile, other major discoveries shifted the geographic focus in exciting ways—to the ancient kingdom of Moab and to that most significant city, Jerusalem.

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 This first discovery of a Phoenician inscription in situ merits considerable attention because it profoundly changed historical knowledge and inquiry.

The Failure of Colorblind Policy for Higher Education


In his new book, “The Walls Around Opportunity,” UCLA Professor Gary Orfield, co-director of the UCLA Civil Rights Project, argues that while families of color share the dream of higher education, racial inequality hinders that dream for many from an early age, and that colorblind policies have made college inaccessible for far too many students.

The book paints a troubling picture of an education system that advantages the privileged, where students of color are walled off from opportunity by deeply ingrained racial inequalities, and schools fail to provide the preparation they need to access and succeed in college. It is a portrait of a system of higher education, marked by a tradition of exclusion, where cost is a barrier and colorblind policies have done little to open the doors.

Orfield renews the call for race conscious policies that can open the doors to educational opportunity for all, and sets forth ideas for deep changes that result in meaningful gains for our systems of education and all of the people they need to serve.

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Ed&IS: Give us an overview of the book.

Gary Orfield: The book is about the concern that higher education is serving to stratify the country rather than to equalize it. Higher education institutions almost all have equity as a basic premise and basic goal. But as an aggregate, they act in ways that privilege the privileged and deny reasonable access to those who are less advantaged, especially to people of color. It’s a system that operates as if everybody has a fair chance.

The exception is the use of affirmative action policies, which are now under attack by the Supreme Court of the United States. The book is written with the realization that we may be coming to the end of affirmative action policies, and that we have not reached the goal of racial equity. And it states that one of the things that academics should do is not to worry too much about what seems feasible right now, but to think about what actually needs to be done.

Ed&IS: What does the book say about affirmative action?

Orfield:The Supreme Court will hear two major cases concerning race-based affirmative action from Harvard and the University of North Carolina in October 2022. They are going to hear cases about whether we should dismantle the last remaining educational remnant of the civil rights evolution. Affirmative action policy is all we have left in the battle for racial integration and equity in higher education and it’s been under assault steadily for the last 20 years.

Affirmative action is important because, until we had it, we had almost no significant integration of our elite higher education institutions. Affirmative

action did that. It didn’t do it thoroughly, but it made a big difference. It created a critical mass of students of color at elite schools. Without affirmative action, we’re likely to lose a good part of that. That is what has happened in the states that have abolished the policy, including California. Harvard told the courts that they will lose 45% of their students of color if they are forced to not consider race in any way in admissions.

Affirmative action is very important, but it’s mostly important for the elite schools in the country. But it is also inadequate there—because so many other aspects of our society, in addition to admissions to college, bear on whether or not people have a fair chance to go to and to survive college.

Ed&IS: What are the walls around opportunity?

Orfield: We have multiple race-related walls around access to higher education. And we’ve been more or less blinded to that by several decades of policy in higher education that has proceeded as if race really wasn’t a fundamental problem.

The book starts out with the description of the conflict between the aspirations of higher education and the realities of it, and looks at the continuing failure to adequately serve people of color, who are already the majority of public high school students in the United States. It argues that we have been blind to the reality that we’re facing in terms of higher education barriers. We have to think about strategies that are more far reaching.

The book documents the systematic racial inequalities we have in every aspect of life and says you can’t be colorblind in a society where everything is

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 One of the things that academics should do is not to worry too much about what seems feasible right now, but to think about what actually needs to be done.

related to color. You can’t really think about higher education policy as if we are a colorblind society, as if the civil rights movement solved all of our issues, and we can just proceed as if we don’t have to think about race in every aspect of life. The pandemic has underlined these realities, as the differential racial impacts have seriously widened gaps in preparation because of the different resources of schools and families of different races.

Ed&IS: How does the civil rights movement shape what has happened?

Orfield: The book describes the history of our country’s treatment of the issues of racial inequality and says that from the beginning of the United States, up until the civil rights movement, the dominant policy in selective institutions of higher education was exclusion. We had almost no significant representation of people of color in leading colleges. That only changed because the institutions and the government decided to change it. That decision was made in the 1960s at the peak of the civil rights movement, a movement that lasted from the middle sixties into the early seventies when we expanded opportunity and acted against discrimination. That was when we created all of the affirmative action plans that still exist today. But even then, they were limited.

After the civil rights movement, that ended with the killing of Dr. King and the election of Richard Nixon and his quick appointment of four Supreme Court justices, the United States didn’t do much. In the 1980s, we slid into a period of denial. We basically said we need to raise standards, we need to be more competitive, schools and colleges shouldn’t worry about racial equity. Students should not have their way paid for college, they should have to make it on their own. We should shift the burden of college costs from the state to the individual.

At the same time, we were abandoning the effort to make access to our best high schools and public schools available to students of color. We pursued integration efforts from the middle sixties until the middle eighties, but since then, under radical limits from conservative Supreme Court decisions, we’ve systematically re-segregated our school systems. When we look at the walls around opportunity, we haven’t made much progress at all. In fact, we’ve gone backwards.

Ed&IS: What is the wall of preparation?

Orfield: The second wall the book discusses is preparation. Preparation has become much more unequal for college; even as selective colleges have become much more competitive. There is higher competition, more applications, and you have more unequal preparation. In California, a Black or Latino student is about one twentieth as likely as a white or Asian student to be in a top performing high school. If you’re not in a top performing high school and you haven’t been in good public schools, your chances of being fairly prepared for competitive college admissions and success in a competitive college, go way down.

Ed&IS: What is the wall of cost?

Orfield: The third major wall is cost. In the civil rights era, and in the 1970s, we made colleges much more accessible. We expanded the number of colleges, increased financial aid and held costs stable. Cost was actually a declining share of family income. Beginning in the eighties, we decided to cut back. We went through a tax cutting phase that took place initially here in California with Proposition 13, but spread across the country, and cut state and federal taxes. As a result, we had to sharply cut state and federal support for higher education in important ways. We kept the colleges going by shifting the cost to the students and their families, through

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 The book documents the systematic racial inequalities we have in every aspect of life and says you can’t be colorblind in a society where everything is related to color.

far higher tuition and costs, often paid through loans.

Our financial aid system did not keep up with the cost of college and a huge gap emerged between what college costs and what many families could afford. At the same time, family incomes were becoming much more unequal in society. In the 1980s, we became, and today we still are, the most unequal advanced society in the world in terms of income distribution. This particularly hit families of color that are not only way below in average income levels, but drastically below in wealth, which is also very important for higher education access.

Ed&IS: What needs to happen now?

Orfield: It is likely that the Supreme Court is going to rule against affirmative action; we’re going to lose that as a tool. Researchers need to help identify what else can be done now but also think hard about what actually needs to be done if higher education is to be more equitable.

Affirmative action is important for elite schools but they will have to search for the most equitable practices such as cutting the requirement for admissions testing, as most have done during the pandemic, and doing vigorous recruitment and comprehensive review of applications.

For most schools, what is important now are targeted resources for students and support making up for the fact that they’ve been so unfairly prepared for college. And we have to address retention problems, and those relate directly to whether you’ve been prepared and whether you’ve got enough money to stay. Financial aid offices need to use their discretion to consider the actual situation of students from families of color.

What we proved in the civil rights revolution is that if you really want to change the outcomes in terms of racial equity, you have to have specific goals, a specific plan. There have to be sanctions

and resources attached to it. People need to be held accountable. It doesn’t change by itself. Segregation and inequality are powerful self-perpetuating sets of institutions and beliefs. And they will continue unless they are disrupted. We need race conscious policies that are designed with clear racial goals and mechanisms. And we need race sensitive policies that are designed with an awareness of the reality of race in the society, so that even though schools can’t consider race explicitly, they can consider the range of realities that students face.

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 Researchers need to help identify what else can be done now but also think hard about what actually needs to be done if higher education is to be more equitable.

American society is well along in a great transition, nearing the end of its white European majority, but it is failing to educate its future majority. If our society is to succeed, the country and its institutions, including its colleges, must find ways to offer real opportunities to groups they have historically subordinated and discriminated against. There is no real alternative, given the birth and migration patterns that have been changing our communities for a half century. White birthrates have been below the replacement level for four decades, and immigration is the reason we have not aged out as drastically as many peer nations. Our colleges need to reflect a changing nation. The great wave of immigration from the 1970s until the Great Recession was overwhelmingly nonwhite, something we’ve never experienced before, though it was restricted at least for a time under Donald Trump. College enrollment has declined since 2010. We have campuses that were designed to serve the white middle-class society of the past and are now challenged to adapt. If we are to have the educated workers and leaders an advanced economy demands, we have to reach groups that have long been neglected. If we want to bring together our polarized communities, sharing higher education can be a powerful tool. We have never achieved higher education equity for Black Americans or for our native peoples. The children of a vast immigration from Latin America have become our largest minority and have not received equal opportunity. Since 2000, three-fifths of the nation’s most selective public universities have had a decline in Black enrollment and Latino students’ access has declined relative to their growing population. How can the higher education system respond? Do we understand the roots of the crisis? Is there any plan?

Americans see college as decisive in the lives of students. You can see the clear pattern in Gallup polls across the decades. In 1978 more than a third of the public thought college was very important, which rose to 58 percent in the early 1980s and 70 percent by 2013. College education came under attack by sectors of the rising conservative populist movement in the Trump administration, and the number saying it was very important dropped somewhat, but only 11 percent, one person in nine, said it was not important. Blacks and Latinos were most likely to say it was very important.

The social and economic impacts of higher education are dramatic, and the inequality of opportunity for students of color and those from poor families is systemic. Typically, college completion makes a major difference in terms of employment, earnings, wealth, and even the probability of marriage and good health. It is strongly related to voting and public involvement, thus to power in the political system and to the health of democracy. In 2016, in a period of unusually low unemployment, among people aged twentyfive to sixty-four, 84 percent of college graduates were working, compared with 68 percent of high school grads and 55 percent of dropouts. Among Blacks the numbers were even more dramatic: 85 percent of college grads had jobs, but only 61 percent of high school grads and a dismal 39 percent of dropouts did. Latino college grads had about the same level of employment as their white and Black counterparts, 84 percent, and their employment shares

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 Our colleges need to reflect a changing nation.

with less education were the highest—72 percent for high school graduates and 65 percent for dropouts—but the quality of the jobs and incomes were low. The problem for Latinos is the low level of degree attainment. The situation is particularly threatening for males of color. College-age Black males are about one-seventh of the nation’s male population but they receive one-twelfth of the college degrees (8.5 percent). Latino males are more than a fourth of the nation’s college-age males but they receive one-ninth of the degrees (11.2 percent). The huge gap in college attainment for men of color is a basic cause of poor employment and income, low levels of marriage, involvement in the criminal economy, and many other problems that affect not only the men themselves but also their families and their communities.

There are gaps at every stage. People of color are less likely to graduate from high school, less likely to immediately enroll in college, less likely to go to a four-year college, substantially less likely to graduate from college within six years, far less likely to get increasingly important postgraduate degrees, and less likely to be employed or get equal wages afterward. If colleges are to help heal the wounds of separation and inequality in U.S. society, better policies are needed at many levels.

College education is critical in America’s twenty-first-century society. It is the key to opportunity and the pathway to a middleclass life. It has become, for most, the boundary between a life of possibilities and resources and a life of struggle and immobility. In our recessions, college graduates are largely protected while others suffer; in times of prosperity, they get a greatly disproportionate share of the gains. There are, of course, nongraduates in fields like the skilled trades, small business, or good union jobs who do well, but the overall pattern is clear, and college is the high road to success. If the huge gap in college completion continues between whites and Asians and other students of color, wide racial differences will be perpetuated into the rising generation. Since college is so critical to their families, the advantage will pass into children’s lives. Students of color have the desire and make the attempt, but they often do not have the preparation and means for success.

Students from all groups have been starting college at higher levels than in the past, but the gaps in completion are actually widening. Starting college somewhere is good, but where you start matters. After enrolling, students must succeed and have the financial means to continue if they are to reap the gains that come from completion. Admitting a student with severely defective preparation or who cannot pay the coming bills often leads to an academic tragedy. A big loan debt without a degree can be crippling. Weak preparation in clearly inferior schools where almost no one is well prepared is a huge barrier. Very capable students find they simply haven’t been given the academic skills other students have received. Starting without the means or extended family support to pay college bills, even with student loans, may make success impossible. These are the second and third walls that must be crossed if we are to move toward equity and real development of students’ capacity.

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 The social and economic impacts of higher education are dramatic, and the inequality of opportunity for students of color and those from poor families is systemic. Typically, college completion makes a major difference in terms of employment, earnings, wealth, and even the probability of marriage and good health.


America’s selective colleges, both the private ones and the strong public flagship universities, were overwhelmingly white institutions throughout their history until the civil rights movement. Almost nothing serious had been done to integrate U.S. colleges before the movement, which reached its peak in the mid-1960s. In 1965, the year of the Selma march, the Voting Rights Act, and the first large urban riot, the selective schools of New England, for example, professed their readiness to welcome Black students but had only 1 percent Black enrollment. Students, faculty, and local community organizations identified with the great movement for racial justice developing in the South and put pressure on their institutions to take action. Affirmative action became a central tool when selective colleges recognized that their normal processes had never produced significantly integrated campuses and classes and that it would not happen without making it a clear goal and changing policies and practices as needed to make it happen.

The reality was that admissions on the basis of a traditional formula for “merit” and the special treatment of children of alumni and other groups who had special skills, often fostered by special opportunities, guaranteed that there would be little representation of students of color who were being ill-prepared in highly unequal segregated schools and whose parents were not alumni and had limited resources. Test scores were relied on, but scores are very strongly linked to family income and parent education. Privileged children gained from family and school educational resources and experiences. In a society where housing is strongly related to the quality of school opportunity and families of color lack the income and savings or housing equity of whites and Asians and often face housing discrimination, unequal local schooling is built into the racial structure of communities. We have had a strong, deeply rooted, long-established web of inequality, and it did not change itself. Waiting for more traditional students who simply had a different skin color wasn’t a workable model. To overcome those and other realities, colleges had to try to assess factors such as teacher recommendations, commitment, and desire to learn, and actively recruit unprecedented numbers of students of color to their campuses. In our extremely unequal society, colleges found that they must consider the circumstances of students of color to fairly assess them and also institute a variety of support efforts on campus.

Colleges had to face the hard realities of race if they were to become diverse. Most Black, Latino, and Native students were from families and schools with more limited resources

and did not have the preparation needed to score well on the standardized tests. Many lacked normal prerequisites because of their school’s limited curriculum or weak counseling. Their families, on average, had much lower incomes and vastly lower wealth, as well as different needs from those of traditional students. That meant that the normal financial aid policies and assumptions often wouldn’t work. They had to convince the students of color to come to campuses where they would be isolated in an overwhelmingly white population with white student organizations and, often, some racial hostility. They had to plan academic support. This was the situation in the Ivy League, the competitive public flagships, and strong private colleges and universities. The response to the demands of the civil rights era was voluntary race-conscious action, and it soon began to make a significant difference, moving colleges from virtually all white to a modest level of diversity. In the South, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Higher Education Act meant that there were more federal funds and that universities segregated by law could put their federal dollars at risk if they did not take positive action, though that received little attention until the 1970s when a court ordered the Nixon administration to take action to enforce the 1964 law.

It was obvious at the outset that all kinds of adjustments had to be made if the campuses were to integrate and students were to succeed. The hope was that the enforcement of civil rights changes and the many social reforms of the Great Society would help solve the underlying problems of inequality over time, but the country took a long, sharp turn in a conservative direction. Many of the domestic programs were drastically cut back and progress on various fronts stalled or even reversed. The Supreme Court, changed by conservative appointments, became far less supportive of broad race-conscious remedies after President Richard Nixon was able to appoint four justices. By the 1980s, under President Ronald Reagan, the country faced a sharp reversal in both civil rights and social programs. It has yet to recover.

Although the affirmative action policies became rooted in many campuses and the failure to close huge racial gaps made it apparent that the underlying problems were not solving themselves, affirmative action was repeatedly challenged. The ideas that civil rights policies were unnecessary and amounted to discrimination against whites produced continuous challenges. The battles surfaced in three crucial Supreme Court decisions from 1978 to 2016, in each of which affirmative action survived by a single vote in a deeply divided Court. Two of the cases

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 To overcome those and other realities, colleges had to try to assess factors such as teacher recommendations, commitment, and desire to learn, and actively recruit unprecedented numbers of students of color to their campuses. In our extremely unequal society, colleges found that they must consider the circumstances of students of color to fairly assess them and also institute a variety of support efforts on campus.

were argued and decided during administrations working to end affirmative action. In the first great decision, the 1978 decision in University of California Board of Regents v. Bakke, the Court prohibited setting aside a specific number of seats for students of color, a quota, but held, by a single vote, that universities could consider racial diversity as a “plus factor” because of the educational value of diverse experiences to the university and all students.

As the courts became far more conservative in the 1990s, there was a major attack. A striking decision by a court of appeals, Hopwood v. Texas, ruled that affirmative action in Texas was unconstitutional. The same year, the voters of California passed a state constitutional amendment that outlawed affirmative action, which stimulated similar action in nine other states.

Two lawsuits against the University of Michigan brought the issues back to the Supreme Court in 2003. The Court held, by a single vote, that it was illegal to simply add points for race in a mechanical admissions formula but that an individualized comprehensive admissions policy considering race as one of several factors was legal. The Court ruled that there was convincing evidence that racial diversity was an educational benefit and a compelling interest that justified this limited consideration. There was a major mobilization of higher education in defense of the university. (After winning the case, however, Michigan opponents succeeded in enacting a state referendum barring affirmative action, and the referendum was upheld by the Supreme Court.)

The issue came back to the Court twice in two decisions in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas. The university was widely believed to have the strongest existing alternative to race-conscious admissions, the 10 percent plan, in spite of analyses showing its shortcomings. The 2003 Grutter decision had recognized and relied on all the research concluding that campus diversity was a “compelling interest” in enriching the educational process, and the Supreme Court agreed in the Fisher cases. Now the question was whether there was a workable alternative that would produce diversity without considering race. In the first decision, the Court accepted the idea that there was a legitimate compelling educational interest in campus diversity but concluded that the lower courts had not demanded sufficient proof from the university that there was no colorblind way to achieve the needed diversity. After serious documentation by the university, the Supreme Court ruled that there was sufficient evidence of the absence of a workable alternative and upheld the university’s affirmative plan by a single vote in a 2016 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Affirmative action was, in practice, an important but modest policy. It never came anywhere close to producing proportionate representation of students of color in selective universities. Stanford professor Sean Reardon and associates concluded that in spite of affirmative action, whites were five times as likely as Blacks to attend selective campuses. As student demand for the most selective campuses soared, students of color were more squeezed out. A 2015 report of a national survey of admissions offices showed that the large majority of selective campuses, except for public institutions in states

where it was illegal, found it was crucial to continue affirmative action. Affirmative action for low-income students was not seen as a substitute. In fact campuses practicing affirmative action for race were also practicing it simultaneously for students from low-income families. Extensive research analyzing admissions variables, considering many alternatives and combinations of variables, found no feasible alternatives that would produce anything like the results of affirmative action at a cost that universities could manage. Although it affects a small share of students, it has a substantial impact on the institutions that train most American leaders and the students of color who would have been excluded but show that they can meet the requirements and become important leaders in many institutions.

Excerpted from “THE WALLS AROUND OPPORTUNITY: The Failure of Colorblind Policy for Higher Education” by Gary Orfield. Copyright 2022. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press.

 A 2015 report of a national survey of admissions offices showed that the large majority of selective campuses, except for public institutions in states where it was illegal, found it was crucial to continue affirmative action. Affirmative action for low‑income students was not seen as a substitute. In

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fact campuses practicing affirmative action for race were also practicing it simultaneously for students from low‑income families.

Teaching and Learning at 31 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Different Perspectives of Teachers and Students

Nearly three years after schools in Los Angeles, and across the nation, closed down as COVID-19 spread across the globe, and as students begin to return to schools in somewhat normal fashion, researchers at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA have published a new study, examining the experiences of K–12 students and teachers during the pandemic and offering initial insights into what happened with teaching and learning during these challenging times.

Jia Wang, an adjunct professor at the UCLA School of Education and Information studies and a senior research scientist at CRESST, and her research colleagues Deborah La Torre, Linda Adreani, and Seth Leon, examined the perspectives of teachers and students in their study, “Teaching and Learning at 31 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Students and teachers from schools in California, Connecticut, and Florida participated in the study.

Concerns over the impact on student learning are increasing amid worries of “learning loss,” by educators, policy makers and others. Wang, the principal investigator of the new CRESST study, says she really does not like calling what has occurred “learning loss.”

“I feel like this has been more a loss of learning opportunity,” says Wang. “Students have not had a normal, in-person learning experience for two-plus years. Their loss of typical learning opportunity during the pandemic led to their learning outcomes being reduced. With that said, I just can’t emphasize enough, 2020 and 2021 were not normal typical school years.”

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The majority of the students surveyed reported that they learned as much as or more than before the pandemic, while about two-thirds of the teachers surveyed thought their students learned less.

La Torre and Wang underscore that it is important to remember that teachers and students are coming from different viewpoints. Students may be taking into account different things than teachers, and don’t always particularly know what they are supposed to accomplish during the school year, while teachers have clear ideas of what they think their students should be accomplishing and where their students should be in their learning trajectories. Besides, students may have evaluated their learning beyond the academic learning in core subject areas such as their newly developed technology proficiency.


During the pandemic, students attended school in a variety of formats or settings. A little more than one-third (37%) of students in the study attended school in-person, while 38% attended school online only. About a quarter (24%) of the students reported attending school in a hybrid mode where they had some in-person instruction and some online learning experiences within a given week.

The study found the majority of students had positive perceptions about their learning. More than one third said they learned about as much, while nearly a quarter said they learned more than before the pandemic.

Schools played an important role in supporting students by providing technology access, with 63 percent of in-person students and 69 percent of hybrid/online students reporting that their school gave or lent them a laptop, desktop computer or tablet to use for their homework and/or schoolwork. The survey found that having access to a laptop, desktop computer or tablet had a clear and positive effect on their experience. More than 60 percent of in-person students who reported having their own device (64.8%) or a device from school (61.6%) felt that they learned as much or more than before the pandemic.

Student participation in class time activities also seemed to matter. Among students

UCLA Ed&IS FALL 2022 19 Access to school supples (paper, pencils, etc.) Access to desktop computer, table, or smartphone when I need it Internet access Finding a quiet place to (do homework/study) Finding someone who could help me with my homework Finding time to (do homework/study) because I had household responsibilities Having to help my parents or siblings when I should be (doing homework/studying) Motivating myself to do my (homework/schoolwork) Understanding my (homework assignments/schoolwork) 0 20 40 60 80 100 InPersonHybrid/Online 73 66 76 68 81 77 71 78 75 72 67 79 86 89 83 70 74 79
I always study for tests
I set aside time to do my homework
on a test,
I need to study, I do that before I relax or play Good grades are important to me Learning new things is important to me Doing well in school is important for my future 0 20 40 60 80 100 InPersonHybrid/Online 44 43 53 83 57 52 53 87 79 86 90 81 89 59 84 65
I work hard to do my best in classes If
do not do well
I study harder If
Student “Agreement” or “Strong Agreement” About Their Academic Commitment (%) Student Reports of Weekly Barriers to Completing Schoolwork or Homework (%)

who reported they used digital materials on a weekly basis or more often during the 2020–21 school year, 58 percent of in-person students had positive learning perceptions and had some experience working on digital textbooks, workbooks, or worksheets.

The survey makes clear however that a majority of students experienced barriers to learning on a weekly basis during the 2020–21 school year. For example, about 70 percent of in-person students reported issues with access to school supplies, such as paper or pencils, at least a few times per week, with more than 40 percent noting this was an everyday issue. And despite acknowledging efforts by schools to provide students with access to technology, large proportions of students said they had problems accessing a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. About eight in ten students also said they had issues with internet access a few times to every day during a typical week.

Students also said they struggled to understand school work and homework assignments, and about 70 percent said they had difficulty finding someone to help them with their homework, or a quiet place to work on it.

But even as they encountered barriers, more than half of those students still felt they had learned about the same or more than before the pandemic.

“It may just be that sometimes students are just more resilient than we think that they’ll be,” La Torre said.

The survey findings seem to support that idea. Students expressed positive views about learning and expectations for the future. More than three-quarters of students reported that learning new things and getting good grades are important, and agreed that doing well in school is important for their future. More than eight in ten students said they worked hard to do their best in their classes. About 95 percent of students said they expect to graduate from high school or attend college in the future.

“Even though it may not be a hundred percent based on reality, we were really happy to see students so positive about their experience,” Wang adds.

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 One finding that stands out is that the majority of the students surveyed reported that they learned as much as or more than before the pandemic, while about two‑ thirds of the teachers surveyed thought their students learned less.
 It may just be that sometimes students are just more resilient than we think that they’ll be.
Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for EDUimages


It is safe to say that teachers saw things differently from students. More than half of the in-person teachers (56.6%) and more than three-quarters of the hybrid/ online teachers (75.2%) said their students learned less than they did prior to the pandemic.

“I think that the students were judging themselves for the most part, as being on par with where they thought they would be in their learning, or doing better than they thought they would be doing in their learning,” La Torre said. “The teachers though were, for the most part, feeling like their students were doing less than they had expected.

“We should also keep in mind that teachers are always gathering information, not just from the tests, but day-today while they’re in the lessons, the questions that they’re asking their students, how the students are responding, what the students are asking. There’s all this other information that they gather.”

The study examines whether teachers taught in-person, online or in some type of hybrid fashion; the structure, type and use of school time activities; their participation in and perceptions of professional development; their collaboration with other teachers; and the support they provided to students.

About 58 percent of teachers were teaching in a hybrid fashion, with 41 percent teaching in person.

The responses of both groups of teachers, with some important exceptions, were fairly similar. Moderate to large percentages of teachers reported they used a range of the instruction techniques listed on the survey at least a few times to every day during a typical week. For example, more than 90 percent of teachers reported conducting lectures in person or online, and more than 70 percent said that they made short videos for their students to watch and that they created pre-recorded lessons or other digital materials for students. Somewhat larger proportions of the hybrid/online teachers reported using the different activities and, in some cases, used them more frequently.

The teachers also reported significant participation in professional

development activities. For example, more than half the teachers reported meeting with other teachers for ten or more hours to develop materials or activities or to work on instructional strategies, and nearly half said they participated in formal professional development sessions taught by a teacher, coach or administrator from their school. More than half of teachers said they spent ten or more hours attending professional development on using technology for teaching purposes or content area teaching.

The teachers had positive perceptions of their professional development. Among the highest rated outcomes were learning how to use technology to improve instruction. Almost all hybrid/online teachers reported that they learned how to use technology to improve their instruction.

During the pandemic, teacher collaboration activities continued. For example, more than two-thirds of teachers reported that they had regular meetings with other teachers at their school or district, discussed ideas about how to improve student engagement during lessons or students’ social emotional needs.

The majority of teachers, and more so among those teaching in person, expressed positive views of the support they had given to students. More than






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80 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they motivated their students. Among those teaching in person, 83 percent said they provided effective instruction, and 73 percent of those teaching online said the same. Large majorities of both groups felt they had sufficient training and/or experience to integrate technology for effective teaching.

One concern was that less than half of the hybrid/online teachers felt that their students were coping well with online learning, and just over a quarter (27%) believed that their students were as engaged in online classes as they were during in-person classes before the pandemic.

The teachers in the survey also reported encountering barriers to teaching and learning, with more than half of the teachers reporting issues with having a stable internet connection, and about half or more reporting issues with accessing teaching supplies during the school year. About one-third said that they had trouble accessing a computer or tablet for teaching.

Almost all of the teachers, and even more of those teaching in hybrid or online, reported experiencing barriers involving their students, with the majority reporting issues at least a few times each week. About 90 percent of teachers reported having trouble helping students take responsibility for their work, keeping students engaged throughout the course, and getting them to complete daily or weekly assignments. Nearly 90 percent of the teachers noted that they struggled to get all of their students to complete the course.

Encountering barriers to teaching and learning may have an impact on teacher perceptions of student learning. More than half of the in-person teachers who felt that their students learned less than normal, reported encountering barriers with students. The relationship was even stronger for the hybrid/ online teachers.

Teacher Reports of Their Weekly Implementation of School-time Activities (%)

I lectured during class. (I conducted online lectures for my students)

I made short videos for my students to watch

I had my students work in small groups or in pairs. (I used breakout rooms with my students)

I led (online) discussions

I participated in my students’ (online) discussions

I gave personalized feedback to my students on their assignments/projects

I had students give each other feedback on their projects and/or homework assignments

I responded to student questions (via email, text, etc.) within one or two days.

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0 20 40 60 80 100 InPersonHybrid/Online 92 90 72 84 98 97 92 100 99 76 100 99 73 95 71 80

Some of the most striking results focused on access to technology. The survey found that students who had access to a laptop, desktop computer or tablet, were much more likely to have positive perceptions of learning than to report that they learned less. The researchers also found a similar relationship regarding class-time activities involving technology or digital devices and positive perceptions. A majority of the in-person and hybrid/online students also showed positive relationships between their perceptions of learning and their self-reported respect of students who identify as a different race or ethnicity than their own.

In contrast to students, the relationship between teachers’ activities and their views of student learning were negative. Despite conducting a range of instructional activities similar in some ways to pre-pandemic times, and participating in a range of professional development, teachers still felt their students learned less than before the pandemic. The negative relationship between student learning outcomes and school activities was even more pronounced for those who taught in a hybrid/online mode.

“COVID-19 changed the lives of K–12 students and teachers,” Wang said. “They went through a totally intensified amount of worry and fear about the disease, about the impact on their family and finances, [and] on themselves, while the pandemic forced teachers and schools to suddenly incorporate online learning and teaching. Maybe we need to remind ourselves that we cannot expect in this kind of environment, for students to learn quite as much academically. We need to look beyond this and focus to implement the evidence-based interventions documented by What Works Clearinghouse [the initiative of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences], in the coming years, while leveraging the improved technology skills students and teachers acquired to reclaim the lost learning opportunities and close down the gap.”

Teacher Reports of Their Weekly Exposure to Barriers to Teaching (%)

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Access to a computer or tablet for teaching when I needed it Access to a stable internet connection Access to teaching supplies Getting all my students to complete the course Getting students to complete daily or weekly assignments Helping students take responsibility for their work Keeping students engaged throughout the course Managing my (online) classroom Setting course expectations 0 20 40 60 80 100 InPersonHybrid/Online 36 35 57 45 89 96 91 93 93 92 53 61 93 64 72 89 58 70 To read the full report, visit: https://cresst.org/publications/r870/
Jia Wang


Trauma, Healing, and Pedagogical Shifts in an English Classroom

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It is my own journey through grief and trauma and healing that brought me to this dissertation, to teaching, to love. As a mixed-raced, working-class Latina who grew up on the highly militarized San Diego-Tijuana frontera, I experienced the corrosive impacts of structural and interpersonal oppression daily— in the amount of frijoles we had to eat, the varied and multiple assaults I survived, the migra we feared, the divorce of my parents, the loss of my friends to both death and the carceral state, the violence we both survived and participated in, and the schools we attended. This type of oppression is sometimes painfully ordinary, chipping away at us at the dinner table while we sit surrounded by our family and drunk tios. These moments, both mundane and monumental, are part of how I understand trauma, of why I chose—ran towards teaching.

As a teenager, the conditions that led to these layered and varied assaults seemed normal, and yet, I suffered from the shame and isolation that is endemic to trauma. As a result, I developed a slew of coping mechanisms to navigate the toxic stressors that continued to permeate my day-to-day. Since I was intent on being as far removed from perceived notions of victimhood as possible, instead I became defensive, loud, aggressive, hyper-vigilant, avoidant. My family and teachers could not see past my trauma responses, my survival shape (Haines, 2019), particularly the ones that pushed back on patriarchal notions of how women should be and act, and so to them, I became “mala,” bad (Hannegan-Martinez, 2018).

These defense mechanisms did little to defend me or my community from the monster that lay at bay and in our beds, so by the time I took ethnic studies courses and decided I wanted to be a teacher at the age of 18, the assaults had multiplied. That same year, I began working as a teacher apprentice at a high school in East Oakland under the mentorship of Jeff Duncan-Andrade and Patrick Camangian; there, I came head-to-head with the saliency of trauma as I saw the same coping mechanisms I had used to survive mirrored on the faces of the young people I taught. Every assault I had experienced felt similarly etched and inked on the bodies and desks and paper of our classroom. It was then that I dove head and heart first into the research on trauma. The introductory understanding around the inner and outer workings of trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) became paramount to my survival as a Woman of Color and foundational to my pedagogy as a teacher in an urban school. Below, I explain the pervasiveness of trauma, the need for love, and my research goals.

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 I came head‑to‑head with the saliency of trauma as I saw the same coping mechanisms I had used to survive mirrored on the faces of the young people I taught. Every assault I had experienced felt similarly etched and inked on the bodies and desks and paper of our classroom.


In 2016, when I began this project, the research showed that more than half of all U.S. children had experienced some kind of trauma in the form of abuse, neglect, violence, or challenging household circumstances—and 35 percent of children had experienced more than one type of traumatic event (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). These statistics correspond with the DSM-IV-TR (2000) definition of trauma:

An extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or another threat to one’s physical integrity; witnessing an event that involves death, injury, or threat to the physical integrity of another person or learning about unexpected violent death, serious harm, or threaten of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate.

Anzaldúa (1987) refers to these acute events as a susto, a trauma, where our relationship to the world is “irrevocably changed.” While alarmingly high, this data neglects to account for the ways in which social toxins such as racism, sexism, poverty, other forms of oppression, and subsequent microaggressions constitute forms of trauma (Coates, 2015; Haines, 2019; Leary, 2005; Williams & Mohammed, 2009), nor does it address the ways in which trauma can also be historical and intergenerational (Duran, 2006; Leary, 2005). While those statistics for trauma are high, it is likely that if we were to expand definitions of trauma to include factors of race, gender, class, sexuality, geography, and so forth, the trauma young people in general, and young People of Color specifically, experience is likely more pervasive than those statistics indicated. Most terrifying, however, is that while these statistics indicated there was already an urgency to study trauma, and situated it as one of the most significant socioemotional inequities facing Children of Color, these numbers are dated before a global pandemic and national uprisings, which have overnight uprooted the lives of children across the country.

As I am writing this, we are in the middle of a global pandemic. For months, those of us who are privileged enough to have a home have been quarantined inside of it. Over 20 million people have lost their jobs. Schools across the country have closed. As of today, more than 100,000 people in this country alone have passed away— most of whom have been Black and Brown people. The Navajo nation is the most impacted by the virus, and continues to be erased from the data. Everything has been on pause. Except death. Except poverty. Except White supremacy. We are still witnessing the sanctioned murder of Black people. The border continues to cage migrant, refugee children. Asian people have been on the receiving end of vitriol and violence. People go to grocery stores wearing their Ku Klux Klan (KKK) masks and cough in the faces of people whom they have long wished death upon. In prisons, COVID runs rampant and nobody bats an eye, or forms a tear. And as people continue to die, as people continue to lose the people that they love—others are fighting to go to restaurants and bars, to not have to wear the masks that could save their life or the life of another.

In the last few weeks alone, we have watched videos and heard stories of Black people being murdered in broad daylight (George Floyd), or in their home (Breonna Taylor). This is six years after Mike Brown was murdered, and 65 years after Emmet Till. The police—despite damning video evidence—have been met largely with impunity. The grief and indignation is palpable, visible in the uprisings that have begun to take root. Across the country, thousands of Black people and allies have taken to the streets—in the middle of a global pandemic—to demand justice, to demand the right to live, to breathe, to walk down the street, to exist. Together, these thousands of people wearing their masks have chanted, cried, danced, spray painted, marched, burned sage, and some have even taken to fire to make their point. These uprisings demand an end to police brutality and yet, they have been largely met with police brutality: with batons, tear gas, tazing, rubber bullets, and cars literally running over protesters. In Los Angeles, we have been placed on curfew and the sound of sirens, fireworks, and gunshots serve as a soundtrack to this dissertation.

 Most terrifying, however, is that while these statistics indicated there was already an urgency to study trauma, and situated it as one of the most significant socioemotional inequities facing Children of Color, these numbers are dated before a global pandemic and national uprisings, which have overnight uprooted the lives of children across the country.

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This moment is a reckoning. An apocalypse. I hope it is the end of the world as we have known it, and though it is painful, it is also steeped with potential and possibility and hope to build a better world, one that is not predicated on the physical and social death of Black people and other oppressed peoples. However, it is important to note that in the process of that happening, we are individually and collectively experiencing a trauma(s). Understanding the collectivity of trauma does not mean we are all experiencing it as such, or similarly, or that we will all be traumatized after it is “done.” Still, in more ways than we can count or conceptualize, this moment is a trauma. A collective one. A historical one. A racialized one. Collective trauma accounts for when a susto happens to entire communities at the same time, when our world and our relationship to it is irrevocably changed by events like war, colonialism, a natural disaster, or in our current case—a global pandemic, and rampant racism. Saul (2013) understands this as our “shared injuries to a population’s social, cultural, and physical ecologies” (p. 2). These traumas, both individual and collective, do not occur in a social vacuum and are exacerbated by a systemic racialized trauma, which is the “repeated, ongoing violation, exploitation, dismissal of, and/or deprivation of groups of people. State institutions, economic systems, and social norms that systematically deny people access to safety, mobility, resources, food, education, dignity, positive reflections of themselves, and belonging” (Haines, 2019, p. 80). As will be explained in Chapter Two, when unmetabolized, these traumas have both short-term and longterm consequences on mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Given these understandings of trauma and its effects—coupled with a global pandemic that has been grotesquely mismanaged in this country and the collective uprisings that have no end in sight—it is likely that when the institution of schooling reopens in this country, we will see the above statistics on child trauma catapult exponentially. In classrooms across the country, moreover, teachers will come face-to-face with the impacts of these trauma(s) in new and unprecedented numbers. If schools reopen too

soon, as many are asking for, and we force children into classrooms filled with masks and plexiglass, terrified at the sound of sniffling, or we reopen without addressing the racialized trauma of this moment—then we must be ready to grapple with what has been a historical truth for Indigenous, Black, and Brown children: that schools can be, and are, sites of trauma. This requires an urgency to study, understand, and address trauma, to figure out how schools can, in spite of their histories, serve as places to help young people cope and heal from trauma. This is true for all children, but particularly so for those who are most vulnerable: Children of Color. We are at a crossroads, the decisions we make now will live in our bones and bodies and behaviors for generations to come.


The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love. (Perry, 2007, p. 30) Embedded in the research of trauma, are two salient but often glossedover points which are the foundation of this dissertation. One, trauma is never a personal failing, it is something that happens to someone; it is neither a flaw nor weakness (Menakem, 2017). Second, healing from trauma cannot exist outside the container of loving relationships (Perry, 2007; Weller, 2015). In fact, research spanning the fields of public health, medicine, social epidemiology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, ethnic studies, and education are in agreement that one of the major interventions to child trauma is loving relationships (DuncanAndrade, 2009; Ginwright, 2015; Perry, 2007; Siegel & Solomon, 2003; Van Der Kolk, 2014). Despite this widely agreed-upon intervention, love remains undertheorized, particularly in the field of education.

I have now been on a 10-year journey towards understanding and conceptualizing love. This journey began formally as an early career teacher, when I became consumed with the idea of love and developed a pedagogical framework entitled Compa Love, defined as

UCLA Ed&IS FALL 2022 27
 The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love.

“the political practice of meeting the tangible (physical), intellectual, and emotional needs of young people in hopes for both self and community actualization”

(Hannegan-Martinez, 2019, p. 7). This became the cornerstone of my teaching, the living document I returned to on the days I came home crying and feeling like an utter failure. I taught hundreds, if not thousands of students operationalizing this framework. The success of this pedagogical praxis was evidenced when a cohort of 30 students whom I looped with for four years had a graduation rate of 97 percent at a school where the pushout rate still hovers above 40 percent. I indicted and scoffed at teachers who I believed weren’t loving. I did this until the end of my teaching career, when the compounded grief and frustration of working in schools that are at odds with our dignity and humanity became too much to bear.

I have spent the last several years since leaving the classroom sharing this work and collaborating with teachers across the country as a coach, consultant, researcher, and organizer. My research and experiences across the country affirm that there is an imminent need to address trauma in the classroom, and that loving relationships are a promising but under-theorized and under-utilized method of doing so. As an example, in almost every school that I step foot onto, teachers tell me that they believe they have caring and loving relationships with their students. In every single one of those schools, I have conducted interviews and focus groups with Students of Color who have shared that they do not feel known or seen. They do not feel cared for, do not feel loved. It was in a hallway of one of those schools that I realized I had spent years asking the wrong question in my work: it isn’t a question of whether or not teachers believe that they love students, but rather whether teachers know how to engage in a practice of having healthy loving relationships with young people. As Thich Nhat Hanh offers us, “To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.” I also realized that there was no way to learn how and what it means to love without actively engaging young people.

It is these lessons that served as the impetus to return to the students I taught every day for four years, to ask the questions I should have asked long ago. I return to them because research aside, it is because of their presence in my life that “today I believe in the possibility of love; why I endeavor to trace its imperfections, its perversions” (Fanon, 1952, p. 28). In this dissertation, I endeavor to understand how we conceptualize love, how we cultivated and practiced love in the day-to-day, how we grew and nurtured it. Because I am an English teacher, committed to all the rigors this discipline entails, I am also interested in unpacking how the curriculum facilitated love, what role our literacy practices and assignments played in shaping loving relationships. In turn, these commitments inform the research questions for this dissertation:

1. How do we [students and teacher] conceptualize love?

2. How was love embodied and made visible in the context of our English classroom?

3. What role did literacy play in shaping loving relationships to self, to peers, and to community?

To read the full dissertation online, please visit: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6ms8d9bn

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Ed&IS: What was it that pushed you to UCLA to pursue your Ph.D.?

Sharim Hannegan Martinez: I ended up at UCLA because so many of my mentors had gone through UCLA. They kept telling me that it was a school where I would be supported, where I would be challenged, where I would grow. I met Professor Danny Solórzano, and I went to his Research Apprenticeship Course (RAC) and I walked out and I was like, “Yes, I accept I’m coming. This is where I need to be. This is who I need to build a community with.” It was such a powerful and unique space. One which I haven’t seen recreated anywhere in the way that you experience it there. And I just knew, right then, that Danny was going to challenge me, to help me grow and to really protect me.

Ed&IS: What was the impact of Danny Solórzano’s RAC on your experience?

Hannegan‑Martinez: For most people a RAC is a place where their advisees, and sometimes students whose dissertation committee they’re on, will come together and share a paper, share a project, share an idea, and get some feedback to advance their work. Most RACs are typically pretty small and pretty reserved. Danny’s RAC is different in the sense that it is always open. And when I say open, I mean open: it’s his current students, his alumni, his students who are just taking his courses, his students’ students, it is high school students, it is my mom if I want to bring her, it is your baby if you need to bring them, it is community. And anybody can share their work. If my mom wants to come and share, like my mom could come, just be like, “I need support thinking through this thing.” And everybody’s going to engage her and love on her and give her really powerful feedback and support her and give her resources to move her work forward. It is a space that feels in your body very different than any other space at UCLA. And probably any other space that I’ve experienced in schools really.

Ed&IS: What did that network of support mean to you?

Hannegan‑Martinez: It is absolutely a model of what love in the academy can look like. How to create a space where folks are deeply seen, appreciated, respected, challenged, cared for, with deep levels of integrity. And for me, what that space did is it made me feel less alone when I would feel the most disconnected. It would remind me why the work that I was doing was important and valuable. It sharpened the intellectual acumen of my work. And it helped me to just be fully seen and allowed me to move through the academy feeling like I wasn’t alone. Like I could do it on my terms.

I think there’s this professionalization that happens in the academy that’s rooted in really white supremacist, classist ideals. You have to look a particular way and you have to talk a particular way. Otherwise, you’re not professional. You’re not intellectual enough. And what Danny’s RAC allowed me was the space to be like “I don’t do any of that.” I talk with my hands, I curse, I yell, I’m loud. I show up with all my chains and hoops and that’s okay. And it helped me feel like if I go into other spaces and they don’t respect that, then that’s just not my space. But I have my space where I can show up and still be seen as an intellectual, even when I show up as my full self with all my Latina working class sensibilities.

I was able to build a critical community of scholars of color who were interested in having very important conversations, but not just conversations, but who were also in community doing the work with families with young people. And I think for me, they’re probably the part of UCLA that was the most important for me. But I also was well mentored by Tyrone Howard and other professors there who were pushing and challenging me and supporting me and thinking about this work. And thinking about what … not only what it would mean to talk about love, but what it would mean to then make that tangible to teachers.

Sharim Hannegan-Martinez, Ph.D. (’20, Ph.D., Education) is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education at University of Kentucky. Her dissertation was recognized by the Ford Foundation’s predoctoral and dissertation year fellowships, and was awarded Dissertation of the Year by American Educational Research Association’s Division G: Social Contexts in Education.

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First Generation College Persistence

University-Assisted Schools and Their Influence on College Degree Attainment

Sarah Bang (’99, B.A., Sociology; ’09, M.A., Teacher Education Program; ’20, Ed.D., Education) was a founding staff member of UCLA Community School, UCLA’s first university-assisted school, where she helped to grow a revolutionary pilot school into a hallmark K–12 educational experience.

Bang says that the early days of creating a research-based pilot school—known for increasing the college-going rate in the Koreatown-Pico-Union area—was “the scariest, best time in all of our lives.”

“We were doing something really amazing, but we didn’t always know what we were doing,” she laughs. “The thing that makes the school amazing is its pilot school autonomy … and individualized things that made us unique like finding our own curriculum or having different ways of assessing.

“For me, it was being part of a community, not just with the teachers and students, but with the families, and feeling like a part of something groundbreaking,” notes Bang. “Something bigger than me, bigger than all of us, and being able to do it with people who were not just my colleagues, but my friends. That’s like a dream come true—you don’t get that in most jobs.”

Bang also created UCLA Squared, a support system for UCLA Community School alumni who now attend UCLA. Most recently, Bang was the director of the TIE-INS (Together in Education in Neighboring Schools) Program and is now Executive Director, UCLA California Institute on Law, Neuroscience and Education housed at UCLA School of Education and Information Studies.

Ed&IS FALL 2022


The first-generation student population continues to grow and yet they are still one of the most high-risk populations for college non-persistence. A promising intervention with research-based potential for combating first-generation drop-out rates in college is university-assisted schools. This study examines what first-generation students who attended a university-assisted high school say helped them persist through college. It also investigates potential ways that university-assisted high schools can better support first-generation students to persist in college. Utilizing a qualitative research design, participants were interviewed and their perceptions of experiences were coded and analyzed. This study’s findings point to first-generation students from a university-assisted school creating and relying on networks to persist in college. These networks filled areas that first-generation students generally tend to lack: sense of belonging and social and cultural capital. This study also found that the traditional “deficit” model used to support first-generation students needs reframing and rethinking to change the way high schools and institutes of higher education approach supports for first-generation students.


Approachable and supportive faculty. Means & Pyne’s (2017) study established that relationships with faculty were found to be pivotal for minority first-generation college students’ development of self-efficacy and sense of belonging. In a more extensive study of student-faculty relationships, Morales (2014) conducted research on 50 academically resilient, low socioeconomic status students of color. His findings centered around what professors and faculty did that resulted in development of self-efficacy for first-generation students. Faculty who were highly attuned to the specific needs of first-generation students, and modified their practices to better educate them, proved to be invaluable to the success of students. In another study that investigated sense of belonging for students, Freeman et al. (2007) provided evidence that first-generation students attributed faculty members’ friendliness, helpfulness, and their ability to encourage participation in class to their own sense of belonging. Longwell-Grice (2016) found that first-generation students found the ability to work through issues with mentors critical to their successful navigation of college. Specific interventions that faculty and staff can employ, including how to make themselves approachable, came out of these

studies (Ishitani, 2006; Morales, 2014; Strayhorn 2012). Being available before and after class, making students feel that they matter, and encouraging them to participate in class are all ways that faculty can contribute to first-generation students’ sense of belonging (Ishitani, 2006). Building relationship with them contributes to social and academic capital for first-generation students while also attending to students’ social integration needs (Strayhorn, 2012). This is especially relevant because of acculturation issues first-generation students face between home and school. Students are more motivated when they feel cared for (Longwell-Grice et al., 2016) and findings suggest that the number of advisor-advisee meeting may positively affect first-generation student persistence (Ishitani, 2006).

Faculty of color. Even more effective in helping students of color are faculty of color, who can serve as a significant source of support. Several researchers have found Latino faculty members have a positive impact on Latino student success (Cedja & Rodes, 2004; Hagedorn et al., 2007; Perez et al., 2006). Studies have also shown that Hispanic faculty and other faculty of color are more likely than White faculty to offer emotional support, foster student success through encouragement, and raise aspirations for students of color (Laden, 1999; Landen & Hagedorn, 2000; Turner & Myers, 2000). However, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (2016), of the 1.5 million faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutes, only 5% were Hispanic, 6% were Black, and 10% were Asian/Pacific Islander. Colleges and universities face pressure to provide access to diverse student populations, yet they are finding it difficult to retain first-generation students of color. These students face greater challenges than their continuinggeneration and non-minority counterparts and are at high risk for dropping out because they are more often from low socioeconomic status backgrounds, lack family support, academic preparation, and knowledge about higher education. Acculturation issues, cultural and academic conflict also compound dropout rates for first-generation students.

University Assisted Schools. The intervention that shows unique promise for smoothing transitions to post-secondary education for first-generation students is university-assisted schools. With the wealth of resources, research, and expertise that universities can provide, these partnerships show great promise in helping schools serve first-generation students. Colleges and universities are increasingly using resources to develop partnership schools, with over 20 university partnerships in the UniversityAssisted Community Schools Network alone. In Los Angeles, UCLA has an initiative called the Center for Community Schooling to advance university-assisted community schools like the UCLA Community School in Koreatown and the Mann UCLA Community School located in South Los Angeles. The university’s resources are used to position K–12 schooling as a public good and prepare more students for college and careers.

The university-assisted community school approach was first developed by the University of Pennsylvania in 1985 with both school and community partners in West Philadelphia. The design for these schools was based on John Dewey’s theory that the community school can function as the major hub for neighborhoods by providing comprehensive services, spurring other

32 UCLA Ed&IS FALL 2022
 Even more effective in helping students of color are faculty of color, who can serve as a significant source of support.

community groups, and helping with issues that communities face. Since schools belong to the community, they serve as an ideal center for community engagement (Harkavy et al., 2013). Universities are uniquely positioned to provide support for community schools in the areas of academic and instructional support, health and human services, college access programs, research, and evaluation (Harkavy et al., 2013). Quartz et al. (2017) maintain that universities also provide potential for bringing together research and practice to bring about real change in schools, and potentially beyond, with the promise of innovation to districts. Eventually, university-assisted schools were deliberately designed to disrupt persistent patterns of inequality and to prepare low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students to succeed in college (Quartz et al., 2017). The concept has since been adapted nationally.

Such schools have had success in graduating marginalized and firstgeneration students. For instance, the UCLA Community School in Koreatown reports a nearly 100% high school graduation rate and postsecondary plan rate over 90%. A recent report by Jacobo & Quartz (2019) shows that the UCLA Community School alumni persist at a higher rate in college compared to the nation and state of California. Another successful example of a universityassisted school is the Richmond Aspire California College Preparatory Academy (CAL Prep). CAL Prep is a public charter school that was co-founded by the University of California, Berkeley and Aspire Public Schools in August 2005. The mission of the school is to help underserved low-income and first-generation students gain access to college and to succeed in institutes of higher education. The school serves approximately 420 students in grades 6–12, with 80% of the students from racial and ethnic groups under-represented in higher education. The student body is 19% African American, 60% Latino/Hispanic, 2.3% Asian, 3% Filipino, 2% East Indian, 2.4% Multi-ethnic/Caucasian, and 11.7% Other; 10% are English Language Learners, 68% are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and 72% will be first in their families to graduate from college. According

to their website, the school boasts an impressive 100% college acceptance rate for all its graduates with each graduating class being around 60 students each year (Center for Educational Partnerships, 2020).

A third example of university-assisted school in California is the Preuss School, a collaboration with University of California, San Diego that opened in 1999. The school began when a group of UC San Diego faculty began planning for ways to increase the number of low-income and under-represented groups at UC San Diego. Built and run by the university in partnership with the San Diego Unified School District, the Preuss School has become a unique middle and high school serving lowincome students who strive to be the first in their families to go to college. Education Data Partnership (2019) reports the student population is almost 60% Hispanic or Latino, nearly 15% Asian and 10% African American. Students are selected through a lottery application process and must meet two eligibility requirements: Be from a low-income family and have no parent or guardian who has graduated from a four-year college. According to their website, 90% of their graduates are consistently accepted to four-year colleges and universities and nearly 100% of their graduates go on to some form of higher education (2020).

To read the full paper, visit: https:// escholarship.org/uc/item/4mx0n603

Sarah Bang, Ed.D.
 UCLA Community School in Koreatown reports a nearly 100% high school graduation rate and postsecondary plan rate over 90%.
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