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Barbara L. Jackson Speaker Series


José Luis Alvarado, Ph.D., Dean of the Fordham University Graduate School of Education and the faculty of the Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy (ELAP) division hosted the Barbara L. Jackson, Ed.D., Lecture Wednesday, October 25, 2023 at the Lincoln Center Campus. The featured speaker for the event:

Photograph of Dr. Decoteau J. Irby

Dr. Decoteau J. Irby

Dr. Decoteau J. Irby, Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is the author of, Stuck Improving: Racial Equity and School Leadership (Harvard Education Press) and thepicture book, Magical Black Tears: A Protest Story (Derute Consulting Cooperative). His activism, art, and scholarship explore the importance of struggle, progress, and equity in education. 

Dr. Decoteau J. Irby’s keynote titled, Getting Past Stuck: Research-Practice in the Pursuit of Racial Equity and Justice in Education, shared his experiences in designing and carrying out research that worked to both produce knowledge and achieve racial equity in education. Dr. Irby’s keynote drew on his personal experiences as an educator, researcher, and activist. He shared insights from his book Stuck Improving: Racial Equity and School Leadership, which offered in-depth accounting of school-improvement and inquiry-based leadership strategies that created the conditions for educators to deliver Black and Brown students affirming school experiences and improved learning outcomes. 

During his presentation Dr. Irby shared a powerful story from his research of an instance when a Black student experienced discrimination in high school. In this story, based in real life, a Black student was standing in the lunch line and the White lunch lady let two white students who were in front of the Black student into the cafeteria but denied access to the Black student. The student complained to one of his Black teachers. The teacher promptly escorted the student back to the cafeteria where she demanded to know why this Black student was denied lunch even though two White students standing in front of him were allowed into the cafeteria? The White cafeteria lady looked at the Black student and back to the teacher and replied, “because he probably wants a full lunch and we are about to close.” The teacher demands that he be allowed to get a lunch. The White cafeteria lady then looks at the Black student and says, “fine, you can come in but all you can have is soup.” The Black student replies, “ I don’t want soup.” White lunch lady looks at him with bewilderment and asks him, “Aren’t you hungry then?” Student looks her right in the eye and tells her, “Nah, I am here because I want you to know that I know what you did.” He then walks away. A powerful anecdote of the discrimination that many people of color still struggle to overcome. 

The event was a complete success and select attendees received autographed copies of Stuck Improving. All who attended were treated to an inspirational message that stirred our souls and called us to action to make education more equitable for all students.


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