Certainly, the last 22 months have demanded our growth and throughout this time I’ve often thought of the call to action shared by the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis, a Civil Rights icon who devoted himself to advancing racial justice and equality and used his words to galvanize action. Near the end of his life, Rep. Lewis encouraged all of us to “never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” Encouraged by Rep. Lewis’s words, I have been reflecting on what it means to “make noise” and get in “good” and “necessary trouble” in education — particularly as we look forward to emerging from the pandemic prepared to leave behind policies and systems that were not designed to meet the needs of diverse children, families and communities.
Fittingly inspired by Rep. Lewis’s powerful and evergreen call to action, this leads me to the theme for this year’s edition of Research That Matters — “Good Disruption.” I’m exceptionally proud of the “good disruption” our faculty, students, alumni, community partners and staff have created from this tumultuous time. Indeed, this edition of Research That Matters showcases nine impactful stories that not only demonstrate the range and depth of work the UW College of Education does in partnership with families, communities, centers and local and national organizations to advance educational justice, but also the innovative ways we’ve embraced disruption to do so.
For example, through an evolving research-practice partnership between the College of Education, Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association, the voices and experiences of diverse families and communities are being centered to drive systemic change in public education and transform our understanding of where and how learning takes place, as well as who counts as “experts,” as a way to challenge the pervasive “learning loss” narrative that emerged during the pandemic. In another example, researchers at the UW Haring Center for Inclusive Education have co-opted the evidence-based Project ECHO® model — a hub and spoke framework initially developed in medicine that connects teams of experts with families— to give parents raising children with disabilities across the state access to professionals, tools and a strong community of support during the pandemic. These two stories are indicative of the robust ways we are working with community to embrace the turbulence of this moment and co-design good disruption that advances educational justice.
In the following pages, I hope you will be inspired and gain new insights into how we can seize this opportunity to embrace disruption to reimagine more just systems and ways of being in relation with one another.
Dean, University of Washington College of Education