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Three Black Scholars Among Nation’s Top 10

By Zenitha Prince
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Afro American Newspaper

Three African-Americans are among the top 10 most influential scholars in the United States, according to a recent ranking by Education Week.

The publication this month released the annual Rick Hess Straight Up Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings. The list of 200 scholars acts as a barometer of the U.S. university-based academicians that are “doing the most to influence educational policy and practice” through their body of work and impact on public discourse, according to Hess, an Education Week columnist.

The finalists were chosen and ranked by a 26-member committee comprising scholars from the American Enterprise Institute. The judges calculated the rankings based on eight categories, including books published, newspaper mentions, Google Scholar and ratings, Twitter scores and mentions in the Congressional Record.
Black scholars took three of the highest spots, including first place.

Filling the top slot of most influential American scholar is Linda Darling-Hammond, founder and faculty director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, at Stanford University. Darling-Hammond is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and member of the National Academy of Education as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2008, she served as director of President Obama’s education policy transition team.

A prolific writer, Darling-Hammond’s most recent books are: “Beyond the Bubble Test: How Performance Assessments Support 21st Century Learning” (2014), “Getting Teacher Evaluation Right: What Really Matters for Effectiveness and Improvement (2013) and “The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity will Determine our Future,” for which she received the coveted Grawemeyer Award in 2012.

Darling-Hammond graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in 1973, and earned her doctorate in Urban Education (with highest distinction) from Temple University in 1978.

Coming in at No. 5 was Gloria Ladson-Billings, chair of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, where she holds the Kellner Family Endowed Professorship in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A past president of the American Educational Research Association, Ladson-Billings has earned many awards and accolades for her research in the best practices of those who successfully teach African-American children and how Critical Race Theory applies to education.

An editor and author of numerous journal publications, Ladson-Billings has also penned critically acclaimed books such as “The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African-American Children,” “Crossing over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms,” and “Beyond the Big House: African-American Educators on Teacher Education.”

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She gained her bachelor’s degree at Morgan State University, an HBCU in Baltimore; and holds a master’s degree from the University of Washington and a doctorate from Stanford University.

Claude Steele, executive vice Chancellor and provost at UC Berkeley, is the third highest-ranking African-American scholar, coming in at No. 9 on the Education Week ranking. Before taking on his current post in March 2014, Steele served as dean for the School of Education at Stanford University from 2011-2014. He previously did an almost 20-year teaching stint at the California-based Ivy League school from 1991-2009.

Professor Steele also served as provost of Columbia University from 2009-2011 and previously taught at the University of Utah, the University of Washington and the University of Michigan.
The academician is best known for his scholarship on the theory of stereotype threat and how it impacts group differences in performance ranging from the intellectual to the athletic, particularly in the academic underachievement of minority students.

His most recent book, “Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do,” was published in 2010. He graduated from Hiram College and from Ohio State University, where he received his doctorate in psychology in 1971.

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