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Article examines the role professional development plays in supporting Black women educators

Doctoral candidate Tanisha Lisle-Johnson and Associate Professor Rita Kohli recently published the paper “Critical Black women educators: Resisting the racial and ideological marginality of K–12 teaching through critical professional development” in Theory Into Practice.

According to their abstract, “Black women educators are severely underrepresented and make up just 5% of US public school teachers. For critical Black women educators working in the hostile racial climates of schools, the ideological marginalization compounds the intersectional racial and gendered alienation they feel. In this article, we theorize the racialization critical Black women educators experience even working in schools that serve communities of Color as they work to disrupt the status quo, challenge racism, and serve students of Color. Through key cases of Black women educators, we describe how critical professional development spaces address these forms of isolation and support their personal and professional wellbeing. We specifically answer what they gain from having access to networks of like-minded peers as they navigate working within institutions fraught with racism. This paper ends with recommendations for developing, retaining, and supporting a teaching force inclusive of critical Black women.”


Tanisha Lisle-Johnson

Tanisha Lisle-Johnson is a doctoral candidate in the Education, Society, and Culture program at the UCR Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on how Black parents describe the racialized experiences of TK–12 children in schools, and what they feel are the contributing factors to current racial disparities in the Inland Empire. Tanisha’s research and teaching are driven by her personal experiences as a student in New York City Public Schools, her role as one of the few Black teachers and teacher leaders in her district, and her passion for civic engagement and social equality. Tanisha’s interests in education began as a young girl growing up in Brooklyn, NY.

“I am the second of three children born of my mother and father who came to the United States from Jamaica during the seventies. My family’s journey to America had always been based on the premise of providing opportunities for future generations to have a better chance in life, both educationally and economically. Though I come from modest means, I was able to attend The Lawrenceville School, a prestigious boarding school in New Jersey, with the help of an organization that connected inner-city African American and Latino youth to the world of private secondary schools, prestige, and the “American Dream,” said Tanisha.

Tanisha holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Rochester, a Master’s degree in Elementary Education, and an Advanced Certificate in Urban Teaching & Leadership from the Warner Graduate School of Education. She has taught grades K-8th and worked at the district level on Math and Reading initiatives for the last 14 years.


Rita Kohli

Rita Kohli is an associate professor in the Education, Society and Culture program in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Riverside. She has a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis on Race and Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. As an Oakland Unified School District teacher, teacher educator, and educational researcher, Kohli has spent 20 years in urban public schools across the country. Her research interests include critical race theory, the racial climate of teacher education and schools, critical teacher development, and the struggles, assets and possibilities of teachers of Color across the pipeline. She is the former chair for the Critical Educators for Social Justice Special Interest Group for the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the co-founder and co-director of the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice (ITOC), and currently serves on the editorial board of the international journal Race, Ethnicity and Education. Kohli is the co-editor of the book, Confronting Racism in Teacher Education: Narratives from Teacher Educators and has published in journals such as Journal of Teacher Education, the Review of Research in Education, Teacher Education Quarterly, and Urban Education. She was the recipient the UCR Innovator for Social Change Award (2016), the Scholar Activist and Community Advocacy Award from the Critical Educators for Social Justice Special Interest Group of AERA (2017), and the Early Career Award of the Division G: Social Context of Education Division of AERA (2018).


Critical Black women educators: Resisting the racial and ideological marginality of K–12 teaching through critical professional development

Citation: Tanisha Lisle-Johnson & Rita Kohli (2020) Critical Black women educators: Resisting the racial and ideological marginality of K–12 teaching through critical professional development, Theory Into Practice, 59:4, 348-357, DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2020.1773181