March 2024 Newsletter

Black Boys Are Less Likely to Be Identified for Special Education When Matched with Black Teachers

Portrait of Cassandra HartBlack male elementary school students matched to Black teachers are less likely to be identified for special education services, according to new research conducted by Prof. Cassandra Hart. The relationship is strongest for economically disadvantaged students, and the connection is especially strong in special education categories that are more open to teacher discretion, such as learning disabilities.

“Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that having access to Black teachers matters to Black children’s educational journeys,” said Hart. “We show that access to Black teachers most strongly affects precisely the types of special disability placements that are more subject to teacher discretion, and therefore where the need for services is more questionable.”

For their study, Hart and colleague Constance Lindsay at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill drew on rich statewide administrative data from North Carolina that included more than 540,000 observations of Black children in grades 1 to 4 and their assigned teachers from 2007–08 through 2012–13. The study appeared in American Educational Research Journal. Read about “Teacher-Student Race Match and Identification for Discretionary Educational Services.” 

Lower Grades, More Absences for High Schoolers who Use Both Tobacco and Cannabis  

A portrait of Kevin GeeA research team including Prof. Kevin Gee has found that high school students who use both tobacco and cannabis products miss more school and have lower grades compared to students who don’t use either product or who use the products individually but don’t combine them.

“While certain school factors—like peer pressure—can contribute to teen tobacco and cannabis use, schools also play a critical role in prevention, especially in partnership with families,” said Gee. “One important tool available to California’s schools is the Tobacco Use Prevention Education program that, when strategically invested in intervention and cessation activities, has shown promise in reducing tobacco use among teens.” 

Gee and co-researchers Melanie Dove, an assistant adjunct professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and first author of the paper, and Elisa Tong, a physician at UC Davis Health and director of the Tobacco Cessation Policy Research Center, analyzed data from the 2021–22 California Healthy Kids Survey. This anonymous, confidential survey was administered by the California Department of Education and asks questions about wellness, resiliency, school climate and safety. The study reviewed responses from 287,653 high school students in ninth and 11th grade.

Read about “Co-Use of Tobacco Products and Cannabis Is Associated with Absenteeism and Lower Grades in California High School Students.”

Words Take Wing Celebrates 20th Anniversary and Honors Joanne Banducci

A group of five women pose togetherThis year’s Words Take Wing: Honoring Diversity in Children’s Literature event featuring Thanhhà Lại was bittersweet. It was the 20th anniversary of the program, and also the last year that founder Joanne Banducci would lead as a chair. Her service was celebrated in a post-matinee luncheon that included guests Lại, past authors Pam Muñoz Ryan and Grace Lin, and author and School of Education alumna Dr. JaNay Brown-Wood. 

“Joanne has been spreading her wings and advocating for authors and teachers long before diversity in literature became a movement,” said Lại. “I cannot thank her enough for having the vision and stamina to pull ever more readers into the embrace of a life-long reading life. View the Words Take Wing photo gallery.

Support the Future of Education on Give Day

A teacher smiles at two students while holding papersUC Davis Give Day 2024 will take place on April 19-20, in conjunction with Picnic Day. This Give Day, we hope you’ll help us “unlock” our challenge gifts that support several priority areas in the School of Education. Gifts of any and all size will have an impact, and all contribute to these important areas.

To make a gift, please visit the School of Education’s Give Day page. Early giving has already begun and will run through Saturday, April 20th at 5:00 pm.

Watch the Picnic Day Parade with the School of Education

UC Davis marching band tuba players in Picnic Day paradeWill you be on campus for Picnic Day on April 20th? Join us to watch the parade from 10:30–11:30 am in front of the School of Education Building at 1st and A streets. It’s a prime spot for parade viewing and we’ll provide refreshments and a place to put your lawn chair or picnic blanket. This year we’ll be cheering on alumna and Grand Marshal Sheri Atkinson, EdD ’14, the UC Davis associate vice chancellor of student life, campus community, and retention services in Student Affairs. Everyone is welcome. No RSVP required. Learn more about the Picnic Day parade.


Register Now for Igniting & Enhancing Class Discussions Symposium for Secondary ELA Teachers

A smiling group of high school students sits on chairs in a circle in a classroomJoin us for a dynamic and enriching one-day free event hosted by the School of Education’s Teachers as Learners program on Saturday, April 27th, at UC Davis. 

The Igniting & Enhancing Class Discussions Symposium is designed to empower ELA secondary educators with tools and strategies to elevate class discussions, such as practical and conceptual insights, real-world examples, and interactive activities. Workshops will be led by seasoned experts, including regional educators and UC Davis faculty, and are designed to enhance ELA teachers’ ability to foster engaging, equitable, and thought-provoking conversations among students. Participants will connect with fellow educators, gain valuable resources, and leave inspired and equipped to take class discussions to new heights. Last day to register is April 15. Register for the Igniting & Enhancing Class Discussions Symposium.


Megan Welsh Receives Seed Grant for International Activities

A portrait of Megan WelshProf. Megan Welsh has received a 2023–24 Seed Grant for International Activities from UC Davis Global Affairs for her project “Enactment of Classroom Assessment Standards in Chilean Teacher Preparation Programs” in Chile. Recipients were honored at the International Connections Reception on March 7th.

Global Affairs partners with UC Davis colleges and schools to provide Seed Grants for international activities to faculty taking on innovative research, service, and engagement projects around the world. Seed Grant Projects, which are often interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial in nature, have spurred new partnerships for UC Davis and have created long-term collaborations that empower communities, build new opportunities, and advance the condition of health for people, animals, and the planet.

Nepal Study Abroad Program: Community, Technology and Sustainability

Group of about 20 students and professors Erbstein and London pose wearing Nepali face paint and garlandsProf. Nancy Erbstein, associate vice provost of global education for Global Affairs, and colleague Jonathan London, professor of community and regional development with the Department of Human Ecology, co-developed and co-instruct “Nepal Study Abroad Program: Community, Technology and Sustainability.” During the most recent program offering, 19 UC Davis students and 17 Nepali students spent the fall and winter quarters working together on three projects: creating a website for an indigenous mothers group, building a business expansion and marketing plan for a milk cooperative run by a local Dalit community, and designing a visitor’s center to share information for tourists interested in a new culturally oriented trekking route. Read about recent student experiences in Nepal Study Abroad.

Jennifer Higgs Keynote at UC Berkeley Research Day

A portrait of Jennifer HiggsProf. Jennifer Higgs will be a keynote speaker at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education Research Day on April 5th. This annual event offers students the opportunity to build professional skills, network with colleagues, and receive feedback on their research. Participants will share work through faculty-moderated paper and poster presentations and interactive sessions. Register and learn more about Research Day.


A portrait of Me’Lisa JamesMe’Lisa James, Cred. ’12, MA ’15 has published her first book for youth on Sacramento regional history. “Land for the Stateless: California Quests for Education Equality” is a collection of short stories based on the experiences of four people of color who became educators in the Sacramento region. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named James a 2023 National Diversity Scholar for her work in the Sacramento community and the Land for the Stateless book project. Publication of the book by nonprofit agency CULTURPHORIUM, Inc. was funded through the Civil Liberties Grant of the California State Library.

Portrait of Çağrı GüzelPhD candidate Çağrı Güzel has received the Duolingo English Test travel award for 2024. Güzel had the highest-scoring proposal amongst a large pool of candidates. The award covers the recipient’s travel, hotel, and registration costs for TESOL International Association’s annual convention, which draws English language teaching professionals at all levels from around the world. Read more about Çağrı Güzel.



Sherrie Reed Presentation at EdSource Roundtable
In February, Dr. Sherrie Reed, executive director of the School’s California Education Lab, presented on an expert panel hosted by EdSource on “Keeping Options Open: Why most students aren’t eligible to apply to California’s public universities.” Watch the EdSource Roundtable recording.

MA Symposium 2024
In March, our students presented their master’s inquiry projects at the UC Davis Student Community Center. View the MA Symposium Photo Gallery.

Center for Community and Citizen Science Collabinar 
In March, Rosalie Zdzienicka Fanshel, a UC Berkeley doctoral candidate, presented “Campus Foodscape Mapping as Justice-Oriented Critical Pedagogy, Activist Research, and Organizational Change” for the School’s Center for Community and Citizen Science. Watch the Collabinar recording

Show Off with School of Education Gear

School of Education branded cap, mugs, and sweatshirt.Looking for a way to show off your School of Education pride? You’ll find shirts of all styles, as well as mugs, hats and more with the School of Education logo at the online UC Davis Store. Proceeds from all store sales benefit UC Davis Athletics.


Prof. Heidi Ballard co-authored “More complex than expected—Mapping activities and youths’ experiences at BioBlitz events to the Rosette model of Science Communication,” published in Frontiers in Environmental Science.

Prof. Kevin Gee co-authored “Explaining disparities in absenteeism between kindergarteners with and without disabilities: A decomposition approach,” published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

Dr. Christopher Jadallah, Prof. Heidi Ballard, Dr. Ryan McLaren Meyer, Prof. Cynthia Carter Ching and Prof. Alexis Patterson Williams co-authored “‘Seeing power’ between young people and conservation professionals in the design of a community-based watershed monitoring initiative,” published in Journal of the Learning Sciences.

Prof. Lauren Lindstrom was a co-author of “Transition self-assessment tool: The development and field testing of a statewide assessment of pre-employment transition services,” published in Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.

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