2022-23 ULA Workshop Series

Completing the Circle: A Comprehensive System for Restorative Change in Schools
—James Huguley & Shawn Thomas

November 16, 2022

James Huguley and Shawn Thomas

In this session, participants learned the nuances of the Just Discipline Project’s restorative practice implementation system, which is currently serving more than 7,000 students in Greater Pittsburgh. Attendees specifically learned the internal motivations, systems, and accountability that make restorative practice cohesive, feasible, and effective; the key components and common pitfalls in restorative practice implementation; and actual tools to immediately enact restorative practices in schools.

James (Jay) Huguley is the faculty lead and founder of the Just Discipline Project, and he is an Associate Dean and Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. His research focuses on school-based interventions that support racial equity and African American student achievement. Prior to his university roles Dr. Huguley was a middle school teacher and youth program director.

Shawn Thomas is the Director of Programming for the Just Discipline Project, where he oversees design, training, and program implementation with school and community partners serving more than 7,000 students. He is an expert restorative practitioner with 20 years’ experience in youth development programming with marginalized populations.

Getting Past Stuck: Organizing Schools to Eliminate Racism
—Decoteau Irby

January 11, 2023

Decoteau Irby

This workshop provided an overview into the dynamic process of working to achieve racial equity in schools. Drawing insights from his book Stuck Improving: Racial Equity and School Leadership, Irby offered an in-depth accounting of school-improvement practices and inquiry-based leadership strategies that create the conditions for educators to deliver Black and Brown school-aged students affirming school experiences and improved learning outcomes. At the end of the presentation, participants understand what it means to have the capacity for racial equity improvement; the role leadership and professional learning plays in strengthening a school’s capacity for racial equity improvement; and what data to gather to understand racial equity if progress is happening in their schools.

Decoteau J. Irby is a creator, activist, musician, education leadership professor and author of several academic articles and books, including Stuck Improving: Racial Equity and School Leadership published by Harvard Education Press, and a children’s book Magical Black Tears: A Protest Story. His activism, art, and scholarship explore the importance of struggle, progress, and equity in education.

Disabling Black Poverty, Supporting White Underachievement
—Keith Mayes

March 1, 2023

Keith Mayes

This session examined how social scientists, school administrators, special education lobbyists, and ultimately Congress racialized and promoted a distinct black disability identity known variously as the “culturally deprived” and “educationally disadvantaged” while simultaneously lifting the “white” learning disabled (LD) out of policy invisibility. Black educational disability was established legislatively through the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) (Head Start) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (Title I) based on the prevailing presumptions of poverty’s debilitating effects on black children. Simultaneously, ESEA made white educational disability a legislative priority based on a belief of white “handicap” exclusion from these laws. This session demonstrated the bifurcated nature of equal educational opportunity discourse that produced two distinct kinds of special education students.

Dr. Keith Mayes is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota; former chair of the Department of African American & African Studies; and the Horace T. Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor. His teaching and research interests include the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, education policy and history, black holiday traditions, racial equity and critical ethnic studies pedagogy, the history of African Americans, and race and social justice. Dr. Mayes has published Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African American Holiday Tradition. His next book, The Unteachables: Disability Rights and the Invention of Black Special Education, will be published in January 2023. Dr. Mayes provides consultant, professional development, and training services in the areas of DEI, curriculum development, and social studies.