Media mentions: Outlets across nation spotlight CCBC’s diversity data

Faculty and staff from across UW–Madison’s School of Education are routinely quoted or make their voices heard in newspapers, magazines, and online news media outlets. Similarly, these experts are often interviewed and showcased on a range of local, national, and international radio and television news reports. Over the past year, there have been more than 100 School of Education-related media mentions. For the latest examples, visit the School’s news and events web page:

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The Atlantic, New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, and ‘CBS This Morning’ among those utilizing figures

Since the start of 2021, major media outlets have utilized important data collected by UW–Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center that documents diversity — and often, the lack thereof — in books for children and teens.

The CCBC, which is housed in the School of Education, has been documenting books it receives annually by and about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) since 1994.

Prior to that, between 1985 and 1993, it documented books by and about Blacks only. Beginning in 2018, the CCBC also started to document the content of every book it receives — while also recording additional aspects of identity in its analysis, including disability, LGBTQ+, and religion.

CCBC Director KT Horning was interviewed in Madison in April by a crew with the “CBS This Morning” program to discuss diversity and children’s books
CCBC Director KT Horning was interviewed in Madison in April by a crew with the “CBS This Morning” program to discuss diversity and children’s books.

These numbers continue to show what they have for well over three decades: Despite slow progress over 35 years of data collection, the number of books featuring BIPOC protagonists continues to lag far behind the number of books with white main characters — or even those with animal or other characters. (Diversity resources are accessible via the CCBC’s website:

The Atlantic in its January/February 2021 issue published a report with the headline: “He Won a Super Bowl. Now for the Real Challenge. Former New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett believes there aren’t enough Black characters in children’s literature — and he wants to change that.”

Citing CCBC data, the article notes that “less than 5 percent of children’s books published in 2019 were written by Black authors.”

Some other examples of media attention garnered by the statistics documented by the CCBC include:

Reports the Post: “The problem isn’t just the presence of stereotypes in children’s literature. There’s also an absence of inclusion. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Education, about half of new children’s books in 2018 centered on white characters while about 1 in 4 focused on people of color.”

CCBC Director KT Horning was also interviewed in Madison in April by the “CBS This Morning” program to discuss diversity and children’s books.

Hillman’s USA Today op-ed argues for more equitable funding

USA Today published an op-ed from Nick Hillman in December headlined, “Poor colleges need to get richer to put low-income students on a path to success.”

nick hillman

Hillman is an associate professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, and the director of the Student Success through Applied Research (SSTAR) lab, which conducts original research and evaluation on issues related to college opportunity and student success.

In the op-ed, Hillman argues that policymakers should address the “stark inequality” in colleges’ financial resources by investing in broad-access institutions that serve a large proportion of low-income students and students of color, in order to build up these schools.

In reality, while broad-access institutions that admit most applicants enroll far more students than selective institutions (including 75 percent of the nation’s lowest-income students), selective institutions (which fewer than one in 10 American students attend) have far more money, Hillman says.

Writes Hillman: “But what if the colleges that serve the most underrepresented students had access to the same financial resources as the nation’s wealthiest colleges? With the think tank Third Way, I recently published a report that unpacks that question by looking at which students are enrolling where, and how much their colleges are spending on their education.”

Adds Hillman: “It’s time for a real conversation about equity-based funding in U.S. higher education.”

Similarly, in November Inside Higher Ed examined the report from Hillman and Third Way titled, “Why Rich Colleges Get Richer & Poor Colleges Get Poorer: The Case for Equity-Based Funding in Higher Education.”

“Some may read (the report) and say, ‘Big deal. Some colleges have different missions than others,’” Hillman tells Inside Higher Ed. “I would disagree with that.”

“In higher education finance, we don’t talk about equity-based funding or adequacy-based funding, yet these are very well-trod areas in K-12 education finance,” Hillman adds. “We need to talk about it more in higher education.”

Education Week examines ‘Reframing Suburbs’

John Diamond was interviewed for a January report in Education Week that’s headlined, “Suburban Schools Have Changed Drastically. Our Understanding of Them Has Not.” The article focused on the release of a recent study from Diamond and co-first author Linn Posey-Maddox that is titled, “Reframing Suburbs: Race, Place, and Opportunity in Suburban Educational Spaces.”

John Diamond and Linn Posey-Maddox
Diamond (left) and Posey-Maddox

Diamond is the Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education and a professor in the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. Posey-Maddox is an associate professor with the Department of Educational Policy Studies.

Diamond tells Education Week that differences between urban and suburban districts are less distinct than people think, and they are not “havens from issues, such as poverty and educational inequity, that city schools have long grappled with.” That makes them ideal locations to study these issues.

“There’s a fascination with city schools,” Diamond said in his interview. “The way that people study leadership and education is often focused on urban leadership and urban schools. There may be courses on rural education, because that tends to be a category that people pay attention to, but suburban often gets overlooked.”

Interestingly, a majority of the nation’s K-12 public school students attend suburban schools, the article notes.

Teachers and principals are working in districts “that don’t look like they did 15 years ago and they’re grappling with issues that they may not have thought they were going to have to understand,” Diamond continued. “The demographic shifts that people experience make them anxious and hungry to find out more information about how to respond to those changes.”

Wisconsin Public Radio interviews Wilkerson about special education program

Kimber Wilkerson appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time” in December to speak about the UW– Madison’s Special Education Teacher (UW-SET) residency program.

Wilkerson is a professor with the School of Education’s Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education, and the director of the Teacher Education Center.

Wilkerson explained to listeners that there has been a challenge across the nation — and in Wisconsin — attracting people to the field of special education. She noted that rural districts often struggle the most — and the UW-SET program seeks to fill that gap through a unique partnership with rural districts.

“Our students are in a one-year residency in a partner district in Wisconsin,” Wilkerson said. “They agree to and know up front that they are going to work in one of these rural districts … and they commit to learning and growing in that setting for the entire academic year. They also agree to work in that district upon their graduation.”

UW–Madison students in the program earn a master’s degree in special education while receiving a minimum living stipend of $38,800 that can be used to pay tuition and fees. This project is funded via a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Dean Hess stresses importance of strong civics education

Schools should teach children about current events in their civics courses, said School of Education Dean Diana Hess, in a February report from the Wisconsin Radio Network.

“I think what happened on January 6 was incredibly serious and incredibly important and it needs to be included in the curriculum,” Hess, an expert in civic and political education, said about the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Hess added that parents need to give their children room to learn, referencing as an example the events in the summer of 2020 in Burlington, Wisconsin, where some parents strongly objected to a lesson on the Black Lives Matter movement.

“They should want their children to learn about political issues, and to learn about multiple and competing views on political issues,” Hess told the Wisconsin Radio Network. “And we know that in high-quality political education, teachers can do that in a way that is not in fact pushing children to a certain point of view.”

Hess added that a strong civics education among students “could be a step towards undoing the highly partisan political landscape that we currently live in, and will help our students mature into politically healthy citizens.”

Also, in late January The Hechinger Report posted an article headlined: “Can we teach our way out of political polarization?” In it, the independent news agency examined whether we should expect schools to develop engaged and responsible citizens and whether we can blame them for the vast divide between how different groups understand our shared history.

“High quality civic education is essential to ensure that this generation of young people is fully prepared to participate wisely and well in the political and civic realms,” Hess said in the report. “That said, the crisis of epic proportions facing our democracy was caused by a confluence of factors and certainly should not be blamed solely or even primarily on what did or did not happen in our schools.”

Cap Times looks at how mental health services evolved during pandemic

The Capital Times newspaper in February utilized the expertise of Stephanie Graham for a report headlined, “College students and mental health counselors in Madison adapt to pandemic needs.”

Graham is the director of the Counseling Psychology Training Clinic (CPTC) and is a clinical professor with the School of Education’s Department of Counseling Psychology. The CPTC is staffed by graduate students in the Department of Counseling Psychology’s master’s and doctoral programs who are supervised by licensed psychologists.

The Capital Times report notes: “One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Graham and college counselors across Madison are much more adjusted to offering services through a computer screen. At CPTC, counselors can borrow laptops or technology and work in isolated rooms, and Graham uses a digital platform to supervise trainees as she would in person. Graduate students, who previously only learned how to counsel clients face-to-face, now watch webinars and training videos to offer virtual services.”

Around the School …

  • Julie Mead in March spoke with the Post Register newspaper in Idaho Falls, Idaho, for a report about a new “scholarship program” that works like a more controversial “voucher program.” Mead is a professor with the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, and a leading expert on school vouchers. Mead tells the newspaper that the “tax credit scholarship program” in Idaho is the same as a voucher pro- gram in that tax money collected by the state is then spent on private education.
  • reported on a painting by Jerry Jordan — titled “A New Song” — that would be appearing at the 2021 Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Jordan is an academic and multicultural advisor with the School of Education. The exhibition ran April 7 to July 4, 2021.
  • Madison’s local NBC affiliate, WMTV/Ch. 15, utilized the expertise of Travis Wright for a report looking at how parents can best talk to their kids about the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. Wright, an associate professor with the School of Education’s Department of Counseling Psychology, said a key is to focus on “responding versus reacting” and to follow your child’s lead. “And if you don’t have the answers, tell them you don’t know,” Wright said.
  • Eleni Schirmer authored an article published in February by The New Yorker that takes an in-depth look at the fight for fair working conditions at an Orlando McDonald’s restaurant during the pandemic and the nationwide movement to raise the minimum wage. Schirmer is a PhD candidate in the School of Education’s departments of Educational Policy Studies and Curriculum and Instruction.
  • The Wisconsin State Journal in February spoke with Walter Stern for an article focused on work taking place in the nearby Sun Prairie Area School District to redraw its middle and high school boundary lines with an eye toward creating racial and economic balance. Stern, an assistant professor with the Department of Educational Policy Studies, noted potential negative unintended consequences of desegregation efforts — “such as poorer students and students of color having to travel long distances to desegregated schools out- side of their neighborhoods.”