Dr. Bree Picower is an Associate Professor at Montclair State University in the College of Education and Human Development. She is the Co-Director of the Urban Teacher Residency, Newark Teacher Project and the Critical Urban Education Speaker Series with Dr. Tanya Maloney at MSU. Her newest book, Reading, Writing and Racism, is an unflinching examination of recent examples of viral racist curriculum and what it means for our educational institutions to take responsibility for addressing teachers’ understandings of race.
Along with co-editors Edwin Mayorga and Ujju Aggarwal, she released a 2nd edition of What’s Race Got To Do With It? How current school reform maintains racial and economic inequality. Her co-edited book with Rita Kohli, Confronting Racism in Teacher Education: Counternarratives of Critical Practice, examined patterns of institutional racism by amplifying the voices of non-dominant teacher educators. In her first book, Practice What You Teach: Social Justice Education in the Classroom and the Streets, she explored a developmental continuum toward teacher activism.
Published widely in academic journals, her scholarship focuses on issues of race, racism and education. Her students’ social justice curriculum is featured at UsingTheirWords.org. Across all areas of work, Dr. Picower works to create spaces for educators to sharpen their political analysis and act for educational justice and was awarded the Scholar Activist of 2013 by the Critical Educators for Social Justice SIG of the American Educational Research Association. She has taught in public elementary schools in Oakland, California and New York City.
Reading, Writing, and Racism
An examination of how curricular choices can perpetuate White supremacy, and radical strategies for how schools and teacher education programs can disrupt and transform racism in education
When racist curriculum “goes viral” on social media, it is typically dismissed as an isolated incident from a “bad” teacher. Educator Bree Picower, however, holds that racist curriculum isn’t an anomaly. It’s a systemic problem that reflects how Whiteness is embedded and reproduced in education. In Reading, Writing, and Racism, Picower argues that White teachers must reframe their understanding about race in order to advance racial justice, and that this must begin in teacher education programs.
Drawing on her experience teaching and developing a program that prepares teachers to focus on social justice and antiracism, Picower demonstrates how teachers’ ideology of race, consciously or unconsciously, shapes how they teach race in the classroom. She also examines current examples of racist curricula that have gone viral to demonstrate how whiteness is entrenched in schools and how this reinforces racial hierarchies in the younger generation.
With a focus on institutional strategies, Picower shows how racial justice can be built into programs across the teacher education pipeline–from admission to induction. By examining the who, what, why and how of racial justice teacher education, she provides radical possibilities for transforming how teachers think about, and teach about, race in their classrooms.
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