New Faculty Focus: Meet Hailey Love

During the course of the academic year, we’ll be sharing out Q&As completed by our newest faculty members in an effort to introduce them to our campus and School of Education communities.

Name: Hailey Love

Hailey LoveTitle, including department and school: Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Educational/professional background: BS in Human Development, Cornell University; MA in Child Development: Children with Disabilities, Tufts University; PhD in Special Education, University of Kansas

Previous position (title, institution): Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education/Special Education, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

How did you get into your field of research? While working for an early childhood education nonprofit in Boston, I was continuously shocked by the significant disparities in the educational opportunities young children from marginalized backgrounds had access to, particularly children of color with disabilities whose families were experiencing poverty. It was a big change from my previous experience teaching at a campus lab school! All the work I was doing with children and teachers outside of my “official” role really spoke to both the disproportionate impact of systemic issues on the most marginalized young children (e.g., our country’s lack of universal pre-K) and the need for additional preparation and supports for early childhood educators who serve children with disabilities. I really wanted to further explore and address the idea that “all inclusion is not ‘good’ inclusion.” That is, it is not enough to simply place a child with a disability in a general education classroom. Instead, we have to be continuously responsive to all aspects of a child’s identity, support needs, and background, including addressing ways our social and educational systems have marginalized children and families of color, those experiencing poverty, and those who are multilingual (among other marginalizations).

What attracted you to UW–Madison? UW–Madison, particularly the School of Education, has a great history of producing research that truly advances our society in general, and in the field of education, specifically. Coming here was an amazing opportunity to join trailblazers who share my values around equity and inclusive education and to learn from the legacy of those who have been here previously. Additionally, it was a once-in-a-career opportunity to actually start a teacher preparation program. UW–Madison does not currently have an early childhood special education teacher preparation program, but we will be changing that soon. In general, I feel like UW–Madison is a place where I can be supported yet challenged, and I can do the work that first drew me to academia.

What was your first visit to campus like? Campus visits are always a whirlwind. However, everyone here was so kind and welcoming. I could tell they genuinely liked each other and were excited about growing the department. Plus, the School of Education building is lovely and has amazing views.

What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with? One of my favorite quotes that I often share with students is from Audre Lorde: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” In special education, we often (understandably) focus on disability-related support needs. However, we can’t ignore the ways disability (and ableism) intersects with other aspects of a person’s identity and other ways they may be marginalized. By understanding more about all of who a student, or person, is, we can be better educators, community members, and advocates. Also, that requires listening to people with disabilities and those experiencing multiple margainalizations (e.g., ableism, racism, sexism).

Is there a way your field of study can help the world endure and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the health, finances and lifestyle of so many? Unfortunately, COVID-19 has highlighted and amplified so many inequities in our society. However, it has also revealed and made possible new ideas about how we can be in community with each other and contribute to each other’s well-being. I hope COVID-19 is a lesson in the fact that our systems can be malleable. If we listen to, and care about, those who are most vulnerable to harm, we can create new possibilities for equity. From a disability justice perspective, when we focus on meeting each other’s needs and listening to those most impacted by our policies and practices, we can build towards justice and liberation.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how. One of the things that stands out to me about the Wisconsin Idea is that the work we do as scholars should have a positive impact on our community. In my work, I hope to better prepare the educators who teach our youngest children with various support needs. My research is also not possible without partnering with schools and early childhood programs. My goal for every study I do is to be able to provide information and support to my community partners as well as advance knowledge in my academic communities. One great thing about education research is that you can impact children, families, teachers, and policy at multiple levels.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter during video chats (and eventually parties)? The “achievement gap” reflects the U.S.’s historical economic, sociopolitical, and moral divestment from communities of color. UW–Madison’s own Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings wrote about recognizing the “achievement gap” as education debt that has resulted from inequitable educational access, the exclusion of communities of color from civic processes, and disparities between what we know is right and what we do. Read her foundational 2006 article, “From the Achievement Gap to the Education Debt: Understanding Achievement in U.S. Schools.”

Hobbies/other interests: I’ve always liked crafting and I recently took up weaving and paint-by-number painting. I also love walking/hiking with my dog and cuddling with my cat, listening to podcasts (mostly NPR and pop culture-related), and trying new beers.