The Ford Secondary Education and Racial Justice Collaborative


What would education policy rooted in social justice and racial equity look like?

The Ford Secondary Education and Racial Justice Collaborative (FSERJC) seeks to engage social justice and education practitioners, many of whom work directly with K-12 students of color, in the public education policymaking process. Drawing from the wisdom and philosophies of these educators, organizers, lawyers, advocates and scholars, the project aims to create more equitable and effective alternatives to current federal, state and local education reform initiatives.



Connecting the Dots Between Racial Justice and Public Education Policy

The work of the FSERJC developed out of both a deep frustration and a sense of urgency. The pace of public education reform has picked up significantly in the past few years, with millions of dollars (both public and private) being invested in education. However, current reforms continue to minimize the ways in which educational systems and practices substantiate and sustain profound disparities in the educational opportunities afforded to youth across racial, ethnic and class lines. FSERJC’s challenge, then, lies in affirmatively reconstructing public education policy so that it is deliberately centered around notions of collective responsibility, equality and racial justice.


We began this work by asking basic, but critical, questions about education. These questions, which continue to guide FSERJC’s work, include:

  • What does it mean to say that a school system is “public”?
  • To whom is it accountable?
  • Does our current model of education support the demands of a deep and energized democracy?
  • Is our model of education responsive to children and families in diverse communities?
  • How have inequality and structural racism undermined the foundations of public education?
  • How might we redesign our educational system to achieve racial justice and educational democracy?

The FSERJC project urges educators and policymakers to collectively engage in a deliberate process of re-imagining public education, first by committing themselves to asking critical questions about equality and racial justice. To constructively guide this process, we aim to circulate alternative images of public education that speak to what our participants consider to be crucial avenues to genuine education reform. Our project offers examples of educational models that attend to the opportunity gap; work with communities to affirm and respond to their needs; identify and seek to address systemic barriers in order to facilitate the success of students and educators; engage in self-reflection in order to cultivate deep educational practice and honor the teaching and learning process by transforming assessment and accountability. By holding up new images of public education, FSERJC makes visible projects of public education where equity is evident in the kinds of opportunities and practices students encounter each and every time they enter the threshold to a school. We then use these examples (and the lessons we can draw from them) to weave a new educational reform fabric that reflects a deep commitment to democracy, racial justice and equity.


The FSERJC Participants

Racial Justice in Action


FSERJC is a group of educators, organizers, lawyers, advocates and scholars whose work embodies critical thinking, practice, organizing, policy and action in the interest of educational and racial justice. By inviting youth, educators and community members to deliberately link and align their work with educational policymaking, FSERJC aims to identify and develop concrete policies, movements and practices that participants consider to be essential ingredients for creating and sustaining healthy schools and communities. We believe that this collective process will allow us to imagine new ways to organize around equity and opportunity in education.


  • Secondary Education, Structural Racism and Educational Justice Meetings
    October 4-5, 2010
    New York City
    More info
  • Examining School Transformations and Closings from the Ground Up
    March 28, 2011
    New York City
    More info
  • Extended Learning Time as a Resource for Educational Justice in Schools and Communities
    May 6, 2011
    New York City
    More info


FSERJC Leadership

  • Michelle Fine is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Social Personality Psychology Urban Education and Women’s Studies.
  • Lauren Wells is a Post-Doctoral Fellow for Urban Education at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.
  • john powell is the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University.
  • Gina Chirichigno is a Post-Doctoral Researcher for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University.

This project is funded by the Ford Foundation.


Contact Us

To learn more about FSERJC’s work, please contact Lauren Wells at