Pedro Noguera, PhD, is a professor in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. He is also the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and the co-Director of the Institute for the study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings (IGEMS). An urban sociologist, Noguera’s scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in the urban environment. Noguera has served as an advisor and engaged in collaborative research with several large urban school districts throughout the United States. He has also done research on issues related to education and economic and social development in the Caribbean, Latin America and several other countries throughout the world. Between 2000 and 2003, Noguera served as the Judith K. Dimon Professor of Communities and Schools at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. From 1990 to 2000, he was a Professor in Social and Cultural Studies at the Graduate School of Education and the Director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change at the University of California, Berkeley.
Question: What can average citizens do to help the poorest school districts?
Pedro Noguera: First thing I would say is be careful of your assumptions. We live in a society where our… the conventional wisdom, the assumptions about why schools fail, about why students fail are usually informed by stereotypes about race, about poverty, assumptions that some kids or their parents don’t care, don’t value learning. If you believe that is the case, then you believe nothing can be done and the degree that we believe nothing can be done, nothing will be done. That’s why I always like to remind people there are schools right now in this country where you have poor kids of all different backgrounds who are learning and thriving and achieving, and that is all the proof we need to know the problem is not the kids. The problem is the way we treat the kids. The problem is the conditions we place kids under and what we need to do is to figure out ways to make sure that all kids have access to schools where they are learning and where their needs are being met and that is something that takes political will. It can’t just be up to the educators to make that happen. We need… Communities say we need good schools for all our kids.
Recorded on January 28, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen