Category Archives: About the Author

Reflections on race, school reform, and working in urban education

I will have an article coming out this year in the Urban Review that examines the impact of closing schools in Baltimore. School closings disproportionately impact low income Black communities. The piece was not just another research report on the damaging impact that school reform has on communities of color, however. It uses the frameworks of Critical Race Theory and Decolonizing methodologies to think about not only how this policy plays out to reify racism, but it is also a reflection on my own role as a white researcher. I worked with a community organization to do research on school closings, which was a great experience, but still fraught with the problems of race and power inequity. There is no escaping these issues. I continue to reflect, but also acknowledge that there is no end to racism, just continual recognition, reflection, and attempt to shift power from universities and white faculty to Black organizations and communities.

The new reality: My new book

My new book is out The new reality for suburban schools: How suburban schools are struggling with low income students and students of color (Peter Lang, 2015).  It showcases three case studies of suburban middle schools whose demographics have changed over the last 15 years. These are schools that have largely white staffs that are unfamiliar with and have negative views of students of color, especially poor students. Given the larger context, of racism that built these suburban communities (i.e. The GI Bill, segregated housing policies, and white flight), there are larger challenges to improving this situation. However, I suggest ways that the schools can do better if they examine their own biases and start to listen to their students.


Book photo


About the author (s)

Photo on 7-29-15 at 10.55 AM

Jessica T. Shiller is the main author of this blog, but invites community members– other scholars, activists, and community members– to post on relevant issues (under the Community Posts tab). This blog represents the author’s work and perspectives, but it is also a space for dialogue about issues relevant to urban education.

Jessica is currently an associate professor of education at Towson University in Maryland. In 2011-12, she was named an Emerging Educational Leader by Phi Delta Kappan. As a scholar-activist, her research and teaching have focused on include urban education, school reform, school-to-prison pipeline, culturally relevant instruction, and civic education. She has worked with grassroots community organizations in Baltimore and New York on fighting against high stakes testing, mandatory minimum sentencing, school closings, and privatization of public schools. She is also connected with networks of scholar-activists in the Baltimore area as well as a national network of scholar-activists that do similar work called, URBAN.

She is mostly recently the author of The New Reality: How suburban schools are struggling with low income students and students of color in their schools (Peter Lang, 2015) and “Preparing for democracy: How community-based organizations build civic engagement among urban youth,” which appeared in the January 2013 issue of Urban Education.  Prior to coming to Towson, she spent most of her career working in New York City as a high school teacher in city schools, a coach to new teachers in Bronx high schools, and a teacher educator at the City University of New York and community activist.

To get in touch, you can email her at