Centering the voices, knowledge, and skills of Black and Latinx educators in educational research

For 18 months surrounding the 2020-2021 school year, a cohort of 20 educators and 20 researchers participated in the design and implementation of an innovative equity-focused research process that positioned Black and Latinx educators as research leaders.

Why do we need to shift power in educational research and development?

Black and Latinx educators must be better supported to lead conversations about improving educational practice, in particular for Black and Latinx youth. Their experiences, points of view, challenges, and curiosities must be centered in any research conducted to inform practice, policy, and innovation.

In contrast, however, educational research is typically driven by the needs and objectives of (largely White) researchers who bring their questions, gather data, and leave with the learnings. Too often, those learnings do not return to serve the very educators and students who informed the research.

About the Initiative

Shifting Power in Educational Research and Development (Shifting Power) aims to shift these traditional power dynamics that are inherent in many research and development (R&D) infrastructures. Shifting Power is a collaborative initiative between Remake Learning and the University of Pittsburgh School of Education funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

During the 2020-21 school year, 20 Black and Latinx educators were paired with 20 researchers across institutions in Western Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Together, these teams co-developed and implemented research projects in the educators’ learning spaces. With the support of their research partner and a deeply place-based, emancipatory R&D infrastructure (based on the work of Dr. Temple Lovelace), participating educators were positioned to lead and solve their own problems of practice.

In addition to their research projects, participants engaged in a number of learning opportunities hosted by the PittEd Justice Collective to grow in their racial consciousness and ability to lead conversations about education practice and research.

By providing connections, resources, and a platform, the participating Black and Latinx educators were positioned to directly influence local R&D in education. It is our hope that this process will inform equity-centered R&D processes nationwide.

Participants and Their Research

The 2020-21 cohort included 20 Black and Latinx PreK-12 educators, including classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, out-of-school providers, and youth workers, as well as 20 university-based, non-profit, and independent researchers and learning scientists. Explore their projects grounded in the concepts of equity, justice, and transformative R&D. A wide range of research questions, methodologies, and presentation formats were chosen by the research teams. The full set of research project abstracts can be found in the case study.