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News @ TC

The education crisis of the global refugee population; how to create math identities for young people of color; intolerance in post-election America; lying in psychotherapy; and more.

Educating the Displaced

How to Build Futures for Generations in Limbo

Illustration: Thomas Kuhlenbeck
Illustration: Thomas Kuhlenbeck
As a majority of the world’s displaced people settle in urban areas, Teachers College researchers are recommending ways to improve access to education for urban refugees.

A report released in early March by Teachers College faculty members Mary Mendenhall, S. Garnett Russell and Elizabeth Buckner, “Urban Refugee Educa­tion: Strengthening Policies and Practices for Access, Quality, and Inclusion,” is the first-ever global study of urban refugee education. Funded by the U.S. State De­partment Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, it documents the lack of access to schools and other educational and support services for displaced children, a majority of whom have settled in cities and urban areas rather than clustering in camps.

The TC team interviewed 190 re­spondents working for UN agencies and international and national non-governmen­tal organizations in 16 countries across the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. They conducted additional, in-depth case studies in Nairobi, Kenya; Beirut, Lebanon; and Quito, Ecuador.

Mendenhall, who led the study, says the findings suggest that “the world community must uphold its col­lective responsibility to help children and youth who have fled regions affected by armed conflict go to and stay in school. By ignoring this respon­sibility, we risk losing yet another generation of children to illiteracy, ignorance, poverty and the need to turn toward desperate and extreme solutions to meet their basic needs.”

Read the full report at


Cub Actor Lands Dream Role

Devin Graves (Photo Credit: Shameika Freeman)
Devin Graves (Photo Credit: Shameika Freeman)

Fifth-grader Devin Graves of the Teachers College Community School (TCCS) is touring professionally as the cub Simba in “The Lion King”. Devin constantly draws on the innovative TCCS music curriculum, which — supported by the Morse and Nelson families — has included violin (third grade), choir (fourth grade), composition (fifth grade) and membership in TCCS’s award-winning orchestra. “Our teachers treat us like adults. I know many schools don’t offer any music, and I feel badly for those students,” he says.


Two for the Ages

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn explores the confluence of genes and the environment. The late Morton Deutsch was a pioneer in conflict resolution. Yet the two TC psychologists share common ground: Both appear in Scientists Making a Difference: One Hundred Eminent Behavioral and Brain Scientists Talk about Their Most Important Contributions (Cam­bridge 2016). And both have clear goals. Wrote Deutsch: “I wanted to do work that would con­tribute to the development of a peaceful world.”

Hidden Figuring: Surfacing Math Socialization

BRAVA ALL AROUND Taraji P. Henson as NASA’s Katherine Johnson
BRAVA ALL AROUND Taraji P. Henson as NASA’s Katherine Johnson
The movie “Hidden Figures” tells of three black, female mathematicians who contributed to American space flight. But for every Katherine Johnson — the movie’s real-life heroine — many students of color still attend schools with no algebra or trigonometry, said Erica Walker, Professor of Mathematics & Education, in delivering TC’s Edmund W. Gordon Lecture in February. Walker’s antidote: experiences with mathematical ideas, often in informal spaces, prompted by sponsors ranging from teachers to peers. “I always think, ‘What would others like Katherine Johnson have achieved if they had not had to fight for access and opportunity?’”


Honors & Distinctions

Psychologist W. Warner Burke received an Outstand­ing Civilian Service Medal Award from the Department of the Army for co-founding the Eisenhower Leader Development Program for tactical officers at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Ernest Morrell, Macy Profes­sor of Education, received the Divergent Award for Excellence in 21st Century Literacies, given by the Initiative for 21st Century Literacies Research.

Marie Miville, Professor of Psychology & Education and Chair of TC’s Depart­ment of Counseling & Clinical Psychology, received the Janet E. Helms Award for Men­toring and Scholarship at TC’s Winter Roundtable for work on multicultural gender roles and wellness in margin­alized communities.

Kimberly Noble, Associate Professor of Neuro-science & Education, received the Associa­tion for Psychological Science’s Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contri­butions.


AERA’s President-Elect: Amy Stuart Wells 

Amy Stuart Wells
Amy Stuart Wells
Amy Stuart Wells, professor of sociology & Education at Teachers College, has been voted President-elect of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Ernest Morrell, the College’s Macy Professor of Education, has been elected to one of two Member-at-Large positions on the AERA Council. Wells’ term as AERA President will begin on April 17, 2018, following the conclusion of the organization’s 2018 Annual Meeting, while Morrell has begun a three-year term as Member-at-Large.


ED Tech 2.0

Arguing in Education
Arguing in Education
Week in February that “when it comes to education technology, the logical connection between evidence of effectiveness and the wis­dom of investment decisions is often ignored,” TC President Susan Fuhrman outlined eight steps for improving the ED tech industry. They include relying on research about how best to teach a particular topic; investing in teacher and school-leader professional development; and safeguarding student privacy. “The throw-it-against-the-wall mentality” is not only ineffi­cient, Fuhrman writes, but “a failure of responsibility to students, who go through school only once.”


TC Workshops

John Dewey, speaking from beyond? No, just a van beaming “Education = Democracy” onto TC’s exterior one evening in March. The occasion — “YOUR ROLE IN DE­MOCRACY: Beyond the Protest,” co-sponsored by TC’s Student Senate — featured Women’s March on Washington Co-Chair Carmen Perez, the Anti-Racist Alliance and a workshop on grassroots campaigning. “I loved coming here,” said light show auteur Mark Read of the Illuminator Collec­tive. “TC has always been about making education equal and open to all.” 


Aessessing Intolerance in Post-Election America

“Communities like Flint, Ferguson and Standing Rock are even more vulnerable now” because “we don’t have leadership in the White House who acknowledge racism, classism” and other forms of oppression. “It is more important to speak out on these issues and raise awareness within psychology and education.”

-Faculty member Gregory Payton at TC’s 37th Winter Roundtable, “from Ferguson to Flint: Multicultural competencies for community-based trauma”


Loud Reports: Headline-Makers from TC

New findings on honesty in psychotherapy, the children’s maker movement and reimagining “place” in inclusive education


Barry Farber
Barry Farber
In September’s Counsel­ling Psychology Quarterly, TC doctoral student Matt Blanchard and Psychology & Education Professor Barry Farber report that 93 percent of patients they surveyed lied to their psychotherapists. The figure dove-tails with estimates of lying in everyday life, but it’s much higher than those found in past studies, which largely ignore lying about therapy itself (e.g., pretending to like the therapist or agree with his or her ad­vice). Blanchard and Farber found that therapy-related lying is even more com­mon than lying about sex. Younger clients and those of different ethnicity than their therapists lied more, but all therapists should pay heed: “While client honesty will never be totally unbound­ed, clinicians who address issues of emotional safety, trust, confidentiality, and disclosure in the earliest stages of therapy and who revisit these issues periodically throughout treatment, are likely to encounter more open and engaged clients.”


Nathan Holbert
Nathan Holbert
The maker movement is hitting elementary schools, but mere proficiency with 3D printers and laser engravers isn’t the point, writes Nathan Holbert, Assistant Professor of Com­munications, Computing & Technology, in December’s Journal of Entrepreneurship. Rather, “Making is a literacy… a way of taking responsibility for challenges and obstacles faced by oneself and one’s community.” Holbert recruited fourth graders to do just that by designing “dream toys” for younger children. Such efforts infuse learning standards with “personal sto­ries and histories, with meaning and communal values, and ideas that have the power to change the world around us.”



Srikala Naraian
Srikala Naraian
“Inclusive education” once meant making schools “hospitable to all forms of difference,” writes Srikala Naraian, Associate Profes­sor of Education, in a recent Teachers College Record. Now it mainly signifies mainstreaming students with disabilities, which too often replicates old divisions. Naraian argues for “a new conception of place” to make inclusion “a spa­tially fluid project involving changing networks of people and experiences.”




  • Henry M. Levin, William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics & Education, received the 2017 Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education Award giv­en by the American Educational Research Association (AERA).
  • Mariana Souto-Manning, Asso­ciate Professor of Early Childhood Education, received AERA’s 2017 Division K Mid-Career Award for her contributions to teaching and teacher education.
  • Detra Price-Dennis, Assis­tant Professor of Elementary & Inclusive Education, received the Division K Early Career Award.
  • ZhaoHong Han, Professor of Language & Education, gave the keynote address, “What Kind of Proficiency Should Be Sought After in ESP Education and How,” at China’s Fifth Conference on ESP (English for Specific Purposes).
  • Xiaodong Lin, Associate Professor of Cognitive Studies, was a special keynote speaker at the annual gathering of the National Council of Teachers of Mathemat­ics, the nation’s largest organization of mathematics teachers, in April. Lin, who is not a mathematician, presented her research showing that science test scores improve for high school students who learn that even great scientists fail and struggle throughout their careers.
  • TC Curriculum & Teaching doctoral student Tran Nguyen Templeton received a $20,000 American Educational Research Association Minority Dissertation Fellowship.

Published Thursday, Jun 15, 2017