Society & Culture

UGA prof to participate in national project on education, racial justice

Athens, Ga. – A University of Georgia education professor has been invited to participate in the Ford Foundation’s Secondary Education and Racial Justice Collaborative, a national project focused on advancing racial justice and moving a progressive secondary education agenda forward.

Jerome Morris, a Fellow in UGA’s Institute for Behavioral Research and a professor in the College of Education’s department of workforce education, leadership and social foundations, will join colleagues from across the nation in New York City to produce papers and develop new frameworks for conceptualizing youth development and education in relation to racial justice.

Beginning this fall, Morris will join a broad spectrum of scholars, activists and practitioners to generate new frames and strategic interventions for advancing racial justice within the context of secondary education. The overall goal is to think together about movements/practices/policies designed to narrow the distance between youth of color and opportunities for intellectual and political engagement.

“The collaborative will especially focus on the flurry of national, state and local reforms directed at secondary education in terms of assessment, time, college readiness, finance equity, teacher quality/development, charter schools, school choice and varied accountability arrangements,” said Morris. “Within these reforms, we’ll address issues of equity and justice.”

In early 2010, the Ford Foundation awarded Michelle Fine at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, John Powell at Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University, and Lauren Wells, post-doctoral fellow at CUNY and research associate at the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at NYU a grant to develop the collaborative.

Morris was selected because his work on understanding the significance of the South and black education has been chosen as a key strategy of the project, according to the collaborative’s principal investigators. His research focuses on the sociology and anthropology of education and examines the intersection of race, social class and gender with social and educational policies. As a social scientist, Morris has studied black schooling in poor and urban settings in major cities such as Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Nashville, as well as middle class and suburban contexts in metro Atlanta.

His recent four-year investigation of how a Southern black suburban context frames the academic experiences of black students explores new ground, given that most studies on the achievement gap have been based in black urban and low-income settings or in predominantly white, middle class settings, said Morris. The study, funded by a $505,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation, has provided empirically grounded models for understanding race and education in post-Brown America and for seeking new solutions to support and advance quality schooling for black children. The results were published in a 2010 book titled, Troubling the Waters: Fulfilling the Promise of Quality Public Schooling for Black Children(Teachers College Press).

Morris received a UGA Creative Research Medal in 2010 for his work. He received the COE’s Russell Yeany Research Award in 2009 and was among three UGA employees named to the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s inaugural class of Education Policy Fellowship Program in 2008.

Morris joined the UGA faculty in 1997. He received his Ph.D. in education and human development from Vanderbilt University.