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Dr. Rich  Milner

Dr. Rich Milner

Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Education, Department of Teaching and Learning & Author

Biography

H. Richard Milner IV is Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and Professor of Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. He has secondary appointments in Peabody’s Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations and the Department of Sociology in Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science. Professor Milner is a researcher, scholar, and leader of urban education and teacher education. Centering equity and diversity, he has spent hundreds of hours observing teachers’ practices and interviewing educators and students in urban schools about micro-level policies that shape students’ opportunities to learn. He examines the social context of classrooms and schools and the ways in which teacher talk, particularly about race, influences student learning, identity, and development. His research in urban schools has influenced designs and practices of teacher education courses and programs. To improve relational, curricular, assessment, and instructional practices, school districts across the United States and beyond draw on his recommendations to support students of color, those who live below the poverty line, and those whose first language is not English (see, for instance, “These Kids are out of Control:” Why We Must Reimagine Classroom Management, Corwin Press, 2018). Read More >

To date, Professor Milner has contributed significantly to the field of education in four interconnected ways:
Professor Milner has advanced conceptual and empirical understandings of what he calls “opportunity gaps.” The term stands in contrast to the more generally used “achievement gap” as a means of explaining and disrupting disparities between students. Specifically, he has introduced an Opportunity Gap Framework as a tool to describe the ways in which Black students continue to experience individual, structural, and systemic inequity in classrooms and schools across the United States. Researchers have adopted the Opportunity Gap Framework as an analytic frame to explain aspects of their research. In addition, practitioners have drawn from the framework to develop and/or revise teacher education programs, courses, and professional development in schools and districts. The framework has been developed from empirical case studies he has conducted over the last 18-years. The Opportunity Gap Framework is described and explained in his award-winning book, Start Where You are, But Don’t Stay There (Harvard Education Press, 2010). The book represents years of research and development efforts and is widely read in teacher education programs and school districts across the United States.

In addition, Professor Milner has constructed a Researcher Positionality Framework to challenge and support researchers in designing and enacting studies and programs of research that recognize, name, and work through what he describes as dangers “seen, unseen, and unforeseen” in studying race and culture in education science. Published in the journal, Educational Researcher (2007), the framework has been adapted across disciplines including nursing and health sciences as an essential element to conducting research.

Professor Milner (with colleagues Lori Delale O’Connor, Adam Alvarez and Ira Murray) has developed a survey, the Teachers Race Talk Survey, one of the first survey instruments focused on teachers’ reported beliefs about race and discourse. The survey attempts to capture teachers’ reported beliefs about the role and importance of race in classroom talk and learning. Researchers interested in capturing the relationship between race and classroom talk, particularly focused on race, have found the survey useful as it is being adapted and adopted for studies across the field of education. Because the survey is designed for open- and well as closed-ended responses, researchers are able to triangulate, nuance, and disrupt participants’, pre- and in-serve teachers’ responses. Implications from his research about race and poverty in schools and classrooms are outlined in his book, Rac(e)ing to Class: Confronting Poverty and Race in Schools and Classrooms (Harvard Education Press, 2015).

In an effort to build synergy between and among empirical studies and conceptual arguments in and related to urban education, Professor Milner has called for and advanced stronger conceptual and definitional work of urban education as a unit of analysis. He described and conceptualized three sites of urban education that other researchers use to make sense of and describe urban contexts: urban characteristic, urban emergent and urban intensive. Bringing together leading scholars of urban education in the edited volume, Handbook of Urban Education, 2014, Professor Milner and Professor Kofi Lomotey (co-editor) have attempted to describe and discuss what urban education is, what we know about it (empirically and theoretically), how we know what we know about urban education, and what other knowledge, as a field, is important for us to study in order to advance policy, research, theory, and practice in urban education.

Prior to rejoining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2018, Professor Milner spent five years as Helen Faison Endowed Chair of Urban Education, professor of education, and by courtesy, professor of sociology, professor of social work, and professor of Africana studies at the University of Pittsburgh. While there, he directed the university’s Center for Urban Education. Professor Milner began his career at Vanderbilt where in 2008, he became the first Black faculty member at Peabody College to earn promotion and tenure from assistant to associate professor. He also was appointed Lois Autrey Betts Assistant (later Associate) Professor of Education. In addition to his service in the Department of Teaching and Learning, where he founded the graduate program in learning, diversity, and urban studies, he held a courtesy appointment in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations.

Professor Milner’s work has appeared in numerous journals, and he has published seven books. In 2017, he became the founding series editor of the Harvard Education Press Series on Race and Education. In 2017, he was also appointed inaugural contributor of the equity column for the journal, Educational Leadership, one of the most widely read outlets for practitioners in the world. Currently, he is editor-in-chief of Urban Education. In the fall of 2015, the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education assigned his book, Rac(e)ing to Class, to all incoming graduate students and invited alumni across the world to read the book. He was then invited to deliver a prestigious Askwith Lecture at Harvard, where he discussed research and findings from his book.

Professor Milner has been widely recognized for his contributions to education scholarship. In October 2018, he delivered the prestigious annual Brown Lecture in Education Research of the American Educational Research Association, the world’s largest educational research association. Attendance at the lecture reached a record high 900 in addition to online viewers. In 2016, he was named an AERA Fellow. AERA has also honored him with Outstanding Reviewer awards (2017 and 2015) for his work on the Editorial Board of Educational Researcher, and the Division K (Teaching and Teacher Education) Award for Innovations in Research on Diversity in Teacher Education (2015). In 2006, he received AERA’s Early Career Award. In 2012, Professor Milner was honored with The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was also awarded the John Dewey Society Outstanding Achievement Award (2016) for his scholarship bridging theory and practice in the spirit of John Dewey. Professor Milner has been ranked for seven years among the top 200 scholars nationally influencing public discussions of education in Education Week’s annual Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings.

The media frequently turn to Professor Milner as a resource. His work has been cited or featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Atlantic, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffington Post, National Public Radio (NPR), National Education Association Today, Educational Leadership, and Education Week.
Professor Milner is also much in demand by other educational institutions. He has served as a visiting professor at the University of Texas-Austin (2010, 2011, and 2013) and at York University in Toronto, Canada (2010). In 2012, he served as a visiting scholar in the Graduate School of Education’s Scholars of Color Symposium Series at the University of Pennsylvania. During summer 2016, Professor Milner taught a course on Race and Poverty in the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington.

Most importantly, Professor Milner has been married for 14 years, and he is the proud father of nine-year old twin daughters, Anna Grace and Elise Faith. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

TeachLab: Podcast Interview | MIT Teaching Systems Lab

Five Educational Imperatives for Justice | UC Davis School of Education

Rac(e)ing to Class | Harvard Graduate School of Education

Opportunity Gaps

Speech Topics

Towards Racial Justice & Equity in the “New Normal” (PreK-12)

Centering racial justice and equity in the “new normal, the keynote highlights conceptions and tools teachers and school leaders need to address and meet the complex needs of students, especially students living below the poverty line, those whose first language is not English, those who are Black and Brown, and those who might experience outside of school challenges across the United States. Particular attention will be placed on student assets and teacher practices that support student academic and social success.  Issues of race and racial justice will be framed to help educators identify PreK-12 students experiences and educators’ mindsets and practices that prevent and support students’ opportunities to learn and succeed in the midst of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter Movement. 

Towards Racial Justice & Equity in the “New Normal” (Higher Education/Community)

Centering racial justice and equity in the “new normal, the keynote highlights conceptions and tools instructors and administrators need to address and meet the complex needs of racially diverse students across the United States. Particular attention will be placed on student assets and instructor practices that support student academic and social success.  Issues of race and racial justice will be framed to help educators identify students experiences and educators’ mindsets and practices that prevent and support students’ opportunities to learn and succeed in the midst of COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and beyond. How do we build college, university and communities of racial justice to benefit our collective interests of racial justice and equity?

Culturally Relevant Teaching: The Essentials

What is culturally responsive teaching, and how might culturally responsive practices meet the social and academic needs of students? The workshop highlights conceptions and tools teachers and school leaders need to address and meet the needs of all students, especially students living below the poverty line, those whose first language is not English, those who are Black and Brown, and those who might experience outside of school challenges across the United States. Particular attention will be placed on student assets and teacher practices that support students.  Instructional practices that are culturally responsive to the very humanity of students will be addressed for classroom and school transformation.

Opportunity-Centered Teaching: Five Imperatives

Students tend to succeed when mechanism are in place to support them. Opportunity gaps, particularly for Black and Brown students, those who live below the poverty line, Muslim students, those whose first language is not English, and those who have a learning disability can result in students’ lack of academic and social success.  Educators tend to have good intentions and work overtime to meet the needs of their students. However, due to pressures and critiques inside and outside of education, they may forget fundamental principles, practices, and imperatives that can propel or stifle learning opportunities in schools and classrooms. With an explicit focus on disrupting inequity inside and outside of education, this keynote will focus on five imperatives necessary to build and cultivate justice and equity in classrooms and schools.

Five Imperatives for Equity & Restoration in Education

Educators tend to have good intentions and work overtime to meet the needs of their students. However, due to pressures and critiques inside and outside of education, they may forget fundamental principles and practices that can propel or stifle learning opportunities in schools and classrooms. With an explicit focus on addressing educational equity, the presentation will focus on five imperatives necessary to build and cultivate justice in schools with students. Implications for restoration and effective classroom teaching will be considered.

Culturally Responsive Teaching

What is culturally responsive teaching, and how might culturally responsive practices meet the social and academic needs of students? The session highlights conceptions and tools teachers and school leaders need to address and meet the needs of all students, especially students living below the poverty line, those whose first language is not English, those who are Black and Brown, and those who might experience outside of school challenges across the United States. Particular attention will be placed on student assets and teacher practices that support students.  Instructional practices that are culturally responsive to the very humanity of students will be addressed for classroom and school transformation.

Culturally Responsive Education

The session highlights conceptions and tools teachers and community members need to address and meet the needs of all students, especially those who have grossly been underserved in PreK-12 classrooms across the United States. Particular attention will be placed on student assets and teacher and community practices that support student academic and social success.  Issues of race and poverty will be framed to help educators and community members identify PreK-12 students experiences and educators’ mindsets and practices that prevent and support students’ opportunities to learn.  Read More >

The session highlights conceptions and tools teachers and school leaders need to address and meet the needs of all students, especially students living below the poverty line, those whose first language is not English, those who are Black and Brown, and those who might experience outside of school challenges across the United States. Particular attention will be placed on student assets and teacher practices that support student academic and social success.  Issues of race and poverty will be framed to help educators identify PreK-12 students experiences and educators’ mindsets and practices that prevent and support students’ opportunities to learn and succeed. Read Less ^

Issues that Divide & Unite in Urban Education: Start Where You Are, But Don’t Stay There!

Understanding educational experiences and outcomes of students in urban schools is essential as we work to create a more equitable and just society for all. However, while challenges in urban education persist, mechanisms, practices and resources necessary to design optimal learning opportunities for students in these spaces are inconsistent and sometimes divisive.  In this talk, Milner discusses issues in urban education that divide and unite us with particular attention placed on reforms in education (and society) that could improve the life chances of these students. Recommendations for district, school and classroom practices will be discussed.