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NEPC Topic Experts on Critical Theory and Pedagogy

Michael W. Apple

University of Wisconsin at Madison

Michael W. Apple is the John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  He also holds Distinguished Professor appointments at the University of Manchester and Northeast Normal University in China.  A former elementary and secondary school teacher and past-president of a teachers union, he has worked with educational systems, governments, universities, unions, and activist and dissident groups throughout the world to democratize educational research, policy, and practice.

Professor Apple has written extensively on the politics of educational reform, on the relationship between culture and power, and on education for social justice.  Among his recent books are: The Routledge International Handbook of Critical EducationThe Routledge International Handbook of Sociology of EducationGlobal Crises, Social Justice, and Education; and most recently Knowledge, Power, and Education; and Can Education Change Society?  His books and articles have won numerous awards and have been translated into many languages.

Professor Apple has been selected as one of the fifty most important educational scholars in the 20th Century.  His books Ideology and Curriculum and Official Knowledge were also selected as two of the most significant books on education in the 20th Century.

He has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Educational Research Association, the UCLA Medal for "Outstanding Academic Achievement," and a number of honorary doctorates by universities throughout the world.

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William Ayers

University of Illinois at Chicago

William Ayers is a retired Distinguished Professor of Education, and a Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research focuses on the importance of creating progressive educational opportunities in urban public schools. One of his books, To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher (Teachers College Press, 1993), was named Book of the Year in 1993 by Kappa Delta Pi and won the Witten Award for Distinguished Work in Biography and Autobiography in 1995. He is a graduate of the Bank Street College of Education and Teachers College, Columbia University.

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William Ayers' blog

Kristen L. Buras

Georgia State University

Kristen Buras is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at Georgia State University. She was a Wisconsin-Spencer Fellow and received her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the coauthor of Pedagogy, Policy, and the Privatized City: Stories of Dispossession and Defiance from New Orleans and author of Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space: Where the Market Meets Grassroots Resistance. Buras has spent the past decade researching school reform in New Orleans, including charter schools and alternative teacher recruitment. She is the cofounder and director of Urban South Grassroots Research Collective for Public Education. She is also past associate editor for the Journal of Education Policy and a current editorial board member.

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Antonia Darder

Loyola Marymount University

Antonia Darder is a distinguished international Freirian scholar. She holds the Leavey Presidential Endowed Chair of Ethics and Moral Leadership at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles and is Professor Emerita of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. Her scholarship focuses on issues of racism, political economy, social justice, and education. Her work critically engages the contributions of Paulo Freire to our understanding of social inequalities in schools and society. Darder’s critical theory of biculturalism links notions of culture, power and schooling, as well as cultural issues to the brain, testing, and inequality. In recent scholarship on ethics and moral questions of education, she articulates a critical theory of leadership for social justice and community empowerment. She is the author of numerous books and articles in the field, including Culture and Power in the Classroom (20th Anniversary edition), Reinventing Paulo Freire: A Pedagogy of Love, and A Dissident Voice: Essays on Culture, Pedagogy, and Power; co-author of After Race: Racism After Multiculturalism; and co-editor of The Critical Pedagogy Reader, and Latinos and Education: A Critical Reader

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Jaime Del Razo

Vassar College

Jaime L. Del Razo is an Assistant Professor of Education at Vassar College. He is interested in researching and writing about issues that confront the continual and accepted forms of oppression that marginalized communities endure in overt and subtle forms in the United States with the goal of changing these conditions forever. Though this research agenda intersects a variety of topics, his current lines of inquiry include (1) Access & Equity for Undocumented Students; (2) Race & Racism; (3) Class & Classism; and (4) Militarization of Schools & Veteran Students. Jaime holds a PhD in Education from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS) and a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley.

Email Jaime Del Razo at:

Elizabeth Dutro

University of Colorado Boulder

Elizabeth Dutro is professor and chair of Literacy Studies in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder, specializing in the area of literacy studies. Her research investigates the intersections of literacy, identity, and children and youth’s opportunities for positive, sustained, relationships with schooling. A primary strand of her work analyzes the presence and consequences of out-of-school life experiences and discourses of race, class, gender in students’ encounters with literacy curriculum, instruction, and high-stakes accountability policy. Elizabeth was a recipient of the Promising Researcher Award and Alan C. Purves Award from the National Council of Teachers of English.

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Gustavo E. Fischman

Arizona State University

Gustavo E. Fischman is professor in educational policy and director of edXchangethe knowledge mobilization initiative at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University. His areas of specialization are comparative education and critical policy and gender studies in education. He is currently leading two research projects. The first analyzes knowledge mobilization strategies of graduate schools of education. Specifically, this project explores the processes of knowledge-exchanges between academic centers and relevant stakeholders such as other scholars, educators, administrators, policymakers, and the general public. The second project focuses on understanding and strengthening the quality, impact and reach of open access publishing in scholarly communication in Latin America.

Dr. Fischman has published extensively and presented in numerous national and international conferences, and has been a visiting scholar in numerous graduate programs in Europe and Latin America. In 2013 has been elected fellow of the International Academy of Education. He serves in numerous editorial boards, and is also the lead editor of Education Policy Analysis Archives and co-editor of Education Review/Reseñas Educativas,

Email Gustavo Fischman at:



References to selected publications:

Fischman, G. E. & Diaz, V. D. (2013) Education without Redemption: Ten Reflections about the Relevance of the Freirean Legacy, Interamerican Journal of Education for Democracy 4 (2) pp. 70-87.

Fischman, G. E. (2013) ‘Hacerlo bien’: Acceso, visibilidad e impacto de la investigación latinoamericana. Cuadernos del Pensamiento Crítico Latinoamericano, CLACSO, no. 6, oct 2013

Fischman, G. E. & Haas, E. (2012) Beyond “idealized” citizenship education: Embodied cognition, metaphors and democracy. Review of Research in Education (RRE), Volume 36: Education, Democracy and the Public Good,pp 190-217.

Alperin, J., Fischman, G. E., & Willinsky, J. (2012). Scholarly Communication Strategies in Latin America’s Research-Intensive Universities. IESALC-Educación Superior y Sociedavol 16(2).



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Patricia H. Hinchey

Pennsylvania State University

Pat Hinchey is Professor Emerita of Education at Penn State. She is experienced in a wide variety of teaching situations and in conducting professional development for both in-service teachers and her faculty colleagues. Her research interests center on issues of equity and the undermining of education for democracy.   Having written extensively on the translation of critical theory to classroom practice, more recently she has turned her attention to teacher assessment and proposals for restructuring the teaching profession.  Pat's most recent book, Getting to Where We Meant to Be: Working Toward the Educational World We Imagine/d, analyzes the common assumptions related to the various futures imagined for K-12 education. 

Email Patricia H. Hinchey at:

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Kevin K. Kumashiro

Kevin Kumashiro Consulting

Dr. Kevin Kumashiro is an internationally recognized expert on educational policy, school reform, teacher preparation, and educational equity and social justice, with a wide-ranging list of accomplishments and awards as a scholar, educator, leader, and advocate. 

Dr. Kumashiro is the former Dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco (2013-2017). He previously served as Chair of Educational Policy Studies, interim Co-Director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, and Director of the AANAPISI (Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution) Initiative at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has taught in schools and colleges across the United States and abroad, and has consulted for school districts, organizations, and state and federal agencies. He founded and directed the Center for Anti-Oppressive Education from 2002-2013.

Email Kevin K. Kumashiro at:

Gloria Ladson-Billings

University of Wisconsin at Madison

Gloria Ladson-Billings (PhD Stanford ’84) is the president of the National Academy of Education. She is Professor Emerita and the former Kellner Family Distinguished Professor of Urban Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and faculty affiliate in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She was the 2005-2006 president of the American Educational Research Association. Ladson-Billings’ research examines the pedagogical practices of teachers who are successful with African American students. She also investigates Critical Race Theory applications to education.

Ladson-Billings is the author of the critically acclaimed books, The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children, Crossing over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms, and Beyond the Big House: African American Educators on Teacher Education. She is editor of five other books and author of more than 90 journal articles and book chapters. She is the former editor of the American Educational Research Journal and a member of several editorial boards. Her work has won numerous scholarly awards, including the H.I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship, Spencer Post-doctoral Fellowship, and the Palmer O. Johnson outstanding research award. In spring 2005 she was elected to the National Academy of Education and the National Society for the Study of Education. In 2007 she was awarded the Hilldale Award, the highest faculty honor given to a professor at the University of Wisconsin for outstanding research, teaching, and service. She is the recipient of the 2008 Distinguished Service Award from Teachers College, Columbia University. Ladson-Billings holds honorary degrees from Umeå University (Umeå Sweden), University of Massachusetts-Lowell, the University of Alicante (Alicante, Spain), the Erickson Institute (Chicago), and Morgan State University (Baltimore).  She is a 2018 recipient of the AERA Distinguished Research Award, and she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2018.

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Daniel P. Liston

University of Colorado Boulder

Daniel P. Liston is a professor of education at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research examines the role of thinking and feeling in teachers' work, teacher education, and the social and political context of schooling.

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Linda McSpadden McNeil

Rice University

Linda McSpadden McNeil is a professor in the Department of Education at Rice University, and Director of its Center for Education. Her research centers on educational equity as an indicator of the relationship between public education and democracy in the context of privatization and the globalized threat to the public good. Her research situates the micro-level educational experiences of youth (in the school and classroom) in the larger power structures, the systemic (macro) and policy contexts. With a continuing interest in ways schools make knowledge accessible, or inaccessible, to children and youth, she analyzes the factors shaping what is taught in schools, and to whom. Specific areas of focus include curriculum theory and policy, secondary education, school organization and policy, urban schools, teaching and learning, the consequences of standardization in education, and issues of equity in public education with special attention to Latino youth.

Email Linda McSpadden McNeil at: or

Elizabeth J. Meyer

University of Colorado Boulder

Elizabeth J. Meyer is the Associate Dean of Teacher Education at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is the author of Gender, Bullying, and Harassment: Strategies to end sexism and homophobia in Schools (Teachers College Press, 2009) and Gender and Sexual Diversity in Schools (Springer, 2010). She is also co-editor of a the Gender and Sexuality in Education series for Peter Lang Publishing. She is a former high school teacher and Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program Grantee (France). She completed her M.A. at the University of Colorado Boulder (1997) and Ph.D at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Her research has been published in academic journals such as: Gender and Education; Journal of Educational Psychology; McGill Journal of Education; The Clearinghouse; Computers and Education; Technology, Pedagogy and Education; and The Journal of LGBT Youth.

She blogs for Psychology Today and is also on Twitter: @lizjmeyer.

Email Elizabeth Meyer at:

Beth C. Rubin

Rutgers University

Beth C. Rubin, Ph.D. is professor of education at Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. In her work, she uses a critical, sociocultural approach to investigate how young people develop, both as learners and as citizens, amid the interwoven contexts of classroom, school, and community, with particular attention to the ways that these settings are shaped by historical and structural inequalities. Her work appears in a variety of journals, including the American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, the Harvard Educational Review, Curriculum Inquiry, Equity and Excellence in Education, the Urban Review, and others. Her most recent book is Making Citizens: Transforming Civic Learning for Diverse Social Studies Classrooms (Routledge, 2012).

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Kenneth Saltman

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Kenneth Saltman is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. His interests include the political economy and cultural politics of public school privatization. His work also explains how the privatization movement in education is part of the broader movement to undermine public democratic power and expand global corporate power.

He is the author and editor of numerous books on educational policy and politics including Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools, The Gift of Education: Public Education and Venture Philanthropy, The Edison Schools, Education as Enforcement: the Militarization and Corporatization of Schools, The Failure of Corporate School Reform, The Politics of Education: A Critical Introduction, and Toward a New Common School Movement.  His most recent book (2016) is Scripted Bodies: Corporate Power, Smart Technologies, and the Undoing of Public Education.

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Ron Scapp

College of Mount Saint Vincent

Ron Scapp is the founding director of the Graduate Program of Urban and Multicultural Education at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx where he is professor of humanities and teacher education. He is currently the director of program development at the College, and is President of the National Association for Ethnic Studies. He is also serving as a member of the International Committee for Kappa Delta Pi and a member of United Federation of Teachers policy board for the NYC Teachers Center.  He has written on a variety of topics—from popular culture to education, from social and political philosophy to art criticism. 

His recent books include, Managing to Be Different: Educational Leadership as Critical Practice (Routledge) andLiving With Class: Philosophical Reflections on Identity and Material Culture, co-edited with Brian Seitz (Palgrave Macmillan). He has collaborated with others on different projects, most notably with cultural critic and author bell hooks [sic]. He is currently working on a book about education and the culture of reform and is co-editor with Kenneth J. Saltman of the Routledge series, Positions: Education, Politics and Culture. He is editor of the journal Ethnic Studies Review, and is a founding member of Group Thought, a philosophy collective based in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

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Katherine Schultz

University of Colorado Boulder

Katherine Schultz is Dean and Professor of Education at the University of Colorado, Boulder School of Education. Prior to this appointment, she was Dean of the School of Education at Mills College. She served as professor and director of the teacher education program at the University of Pennsylvania from 1997-2010 where she founded and directed the Center for Collaborative Research and Practice in Teacher Education. From 2008-2010, she was a member of a three-person empowerment (school) board of the Chester Upland School District, a high poverty school district outside of Philadelphia. During this time, she was also the faculty director of the Philadelphia Writing Project. Her three-year term as Vice President of Division K (Teaching and Teacher Education of the American Education Research Association began in April 2016. She served as President of the Council on Anthropology and Education from 2010-2011. Her goal as scholar, researcher, and practitioner has been to understand how to prepare and support teachers to enter and remain in challenging urban contexts. In particular, her work has focused on the research, development, and dissemination of pedagogical practices that support new and veteran teachers working with marginalized populations in high poverty areas. Her two recent books address these issues. In Listening: A framework for teaching across differences, she elaborated a framework for conceptualizing teaching as fundamentally based on listening to students. Rethinking classroom participation: Listening to silent voices adds to this work through an exploration of the meanings and uses of silence in teaching and learning. Her current research projects analyze new teachers’ perspectives on learning to teach across multiple pathways. Related to this work is an interest in professional development that supports and sustains teachers in urban settings in the U.S. and across the world. She is currently working on a book on the role of distrust in educational reform drawing on her work in Oakland and as a school board member and leader of professional development in international settings. As Dean of Mills College School of Education, she was actively engaged in the Oakland community, establishing the Center for Urban Schools and Partnerships, co-chairing the Oakland Education Cabinet with the mayor and superintendent, and serving on several advisory committees including the leadership team for full service community schools. A co-founder of the Urban Teacher Educators Consortium and Deans for Justice and Equity, she is committed to the preparation and ongoing support of teacher educators through thoughtful research and practice.

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Jamy Stillman

University of Colorado Boulder

Jamy Stillman is an Associate Professor of Education in the division of Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research explores the factors that shape teachers’ capacities to deliver equity-oriented, responsive instruction in high-poverty schools serving minoritized youth, especially Spanish-English bilingual students. Using qualitative methods, Jamy focuses primarily on two factors—education policy (e.g. high-stakes accountability policies and standards-based reform) and features of university teacher education—to generate understandings about pre-service and practicing teachers’ learning and work across contexts, and the implications of this work and learning for culturally and linguistically diverse students’ opportunities to learn. Jamy is also becoming increasingly interested in questions surrounding the preparation of urban teacher educators.

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P.L. Thomas

Furman University

Paul Thomas, Professor of Education, taught high school English in rural South Carolina before moving to teacher education. Recent books include Parental Choice?: A Critical Reconsideration of Choice and the Debate about Choice (Information Age Publishing, 2010) and 21st Century Literacy: If We Are Scripted, Are We Literate? (Springer, 2009) co-authored with Renita Schmidt. He maintains a blog addressing the role of poverty in education: His teaching and scholarship focus on literacy and the impact of poverty on education, as well as confronting the political dynamics influencing public education in the U.S. His work can be followed at

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