Loyola University Maryland

Center for Innovation in Urban Education

Article Presentation by Dr. Jason G. Irizarry

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The Center for Innovation in Urban Education and Loyola University Maryland School of Education welcome Jason G. Irizarry, Ed.D.

“For Us, By Us”:  A Vision for Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies Forwarded by Urban Youth

Dr. Jason IrizarryWednesday, March 19, 2014
6-7:30 p.m.
McGuire Hall West

A reception will be held in the McGuire Hall Atrium from 5-6 p.m. 
Learn more about Evergreen Campus Parking.

Indicators of academic achievement for many urban youth of color continue to be problematic. As researchers and policy makers search for remedies to address so-called achievement gaps, they often fail to meaningfully engage those most directly impacted by changes in policy and practice- namely, students themselves. The overwhelming majority of school improvement initiatives have been “top-down,” created without meaningful input or participation from the families and communities they intend to serve. Moreover, the role of culture in shaping teaching and learning is often ignored, and at times maligned, in this process. 

Drawing from a two-year ethnographic study of Latino/a high school students in a participatory action research collaborative based at their school, this article presentation addresses the following questions: How might our understandings of culturally relevant pedagogy be enhanced if they were informed by teaching practices developed, implemented, and refined by students themselves? As the largest and fastest growing group of minoritized students and community that disproportionately experiences academic underachievement, what can Latino/a students teach us about developing teaching strategies that have the potential to improve their educational experiences and outcomes? In other words, if Latino/a youth were empowered to create a classroom environment for themselves and other Latino/a students, what would it look like? What elements, approaches, would they employ? Dr. Irizarry will end the presentation by forwarding a vision for culturally sustaining pedagogies that is created by urban youth, for urban youth.

Dr. Jason G. Irizarry is Director of Urban Education and an Associate Professor in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in multicultural education, culturally responsive curriculum development, urban education, and participatory action research.  A former middle school teacher in New York City, his research focuses on urban teacher recruitment, preparation, and retention with an emphasis on increasing the number of teachers of color, culturally responsive pedagogy, youth participatory action research, and Latino students in U.S. schools.  A central focus of his work involves promoting the academic achievement of youth in urban schools by addressing issues associated with teacher education.  Manuscripts documenting the findings of his research have been published or accepted for publication in a variety of peer-reviewed journals in the field including Teachers College Record, American Educational Research Journal, Education and Urban Society, Multicultural Perspectives, the Journal of Latinos and Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, and the Centro Journal of Puerto Rican Studies and others appearing as chapters in various books.  

The Latinization of U.S. Schools Book CoverHe is also the author of the award winning book, The Latinization of U.S. Schools: Successful Teaching and Learning in Shifting Cultural Contexts (Paradigm Publishers, 2011). The book is a compilation of texts addressing the issues of which Irizarry's students face as Latinos in the education system. After being approached by one of his students who claimed that Latinos, simply, "are not smart," Irizarry took it upon himself to include his own students in the writing of his book, not only uplifting them, but shattering the Latino stereotype - proving to both the world and his students that they are indeed 'smart.' The book, written from the student's perspective, addresses the lack of acknowledgement and recognition Latino students receive in the education system. In bringing this topic to the forefront, Irizarry's writings draw attention to educational flaws and serve as an inspiration for change.