Category: Professors at Work

Brain Disruptions Similar In Many Emotional Disorders

Dr. Scott Langenecker, Dr. Olusola Ajilore and Lisanne Jenkins pose in front of an image of the brain in UIC’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory. Photo: Vibhu Rangavasan.

Dr. Scott Langenecker, Dr. Olusola Ajilore and Lisanne Jenkins pose in front of an image of the brain in UIC’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory. Photo: Vibhu Rangavasan.

Researchers have long known that emotional disorders have a lot in common. Many often occur together, like depression and social anxiety disorder. Treatments also tend to work across multiple disorders, suggesting shared underlying elements. But perhaps the most common shared characteristic is that almost all emotional disorders involve persistent negative thinking.

In an analysis of existing studies that used MRI images to study the brain’s white matter, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago describe common brain abnormalities found in multiple emotional disorders. Their findings are published in the journal NeuroImage: Clinical.

“This study provides important insights into mechanisms shared across multiple emotional disorders, and could provide us with biomarkers that can be used to more rapidly diagnose these disorders,” says Dr. Scott Langenecker, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology in the UIC College of Medicine and senior author of the paper. Those disorders, he said, can sometimes take many years to be diagnosed accurately.

The most common difference in white matter structure that Langenecker’s group found — present in every emotional disorder they looked at — was disruption in a region of the brain that connects different parts of the “default-mode network,” which is responsible for passive thoughts not focused on a particular task. That area is the left superior longitudinal fasciculus. The superior longitudinal fasciculus, or SLF, also connects the default-mode network and the cognitive control network, which is important in task-based thinking and planning and tends to work in alternation with the default-mode network.

The constant negative thoughts or ruminations associated with most emotional disorders appear to be due to a hyperactive default-mode network, Langenecker said.

“If the part of the brain that helps rein in the default-mode network isn’t as well-connected through the SLF, this could explain why people with emotional disorders have such a hard time modulating or gaining control of their negative thoughts,” he said.

The researchers systematically searched the scientific literature for studies that performed whole-brain “diffusion tensor” imaging on adults with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as healthy control participants. Thirty-seven studies met those criteria and included a combined 962 participants with emotional disorders and 892 healthy control subjects.

The researchers then performed a meta-analysis to determine which white-matter alterations may be common across multiple mood disorders and which are unique for a particular mood disorder. White matter includes the long nerve fibers called axons that transmit electrical signals.

Diffusion tensor imaging, or DTI, measures the degree to which water molecules move in one direction rather than randomly diffusing in all directions. It provides “an indirect measurement of the microstructure of white matter, and can give information about connectivity of different parts of the brain,” said Lisanne Jenkins, postdoctoral research fellow in psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine and first author on the paper.

“If you think of white matter as the highways of the brain, connecting all the different regions and networks,” Jenkins said, an area with highly directional water movement “could be a major superhighway where all the cars are moving along quickly with little traffic.” An area with less-directed water movement could be “a two-lane road, with several exits and stop signs, maybe even some potholes, which slow down traffic.”

Brain regions connected by these slower pathways “may not communicate as well as they would in someone where this road looks more like a superhighway,” said Dr. Olusola Ajilore, associate professor of psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine and a co-author on the paper.

In the 37 studies the researchers looked at, participants with emotional disorders had less directed water movement in their white matter compared to participants who did not have emotional disorders.

One of the most surprising findings to Langenecker was that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder shared the most brain abnormalities with people with other emotional disorders.

“We would have expected … OCD to look very different from other emotional disorders, because the symptoms are so unique and distinct,” Langenecker said. “But this kind of flips how we see OCD, which clearly has more in common with other emotional disorders than we think.”

The traditional diagnosis for OCD, he said, is repetitive thoughts about specific objects or tasks — thoughts that pertain to the world outside the self. The thoughts can also be internally-directed.

“Other emotional disorders, like depression, social anxiety, and panic disorder — the repetitive thoughts are directed at the self,” Ajilore said. “So our finding that OCD is more like the other emotional disorders makes sense, and we may now be able to further examine commonalities between these disorders that could improve our treatment of them individually.”

The disorder that stood out and shared the fewest white-matter characteristics with the others was post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD is triggered by a traumatic event and involves being reminded of that event at unwelcome times, not unlike the repetitive negative thinking in other emotional disorders. But people with PTSD had several areas of low white-matter connectivity that weren’t seen in the other emotional disorders, Langenecker said.

“While milder forms of trauma is common in other conditions, like major depression or generalized anxiety, it is possible that the brain regions we saw that were distinctly affected in PTSD participants are related to the experience of severe trauma or the re-experiencing of that trauma,” he said.

In bipolar disorder, characterized by periods of both depression and mania, the researchers saw generally decreased water-directionality in the right side of the brain, including the right SLF, the area that connects the default-mode network and the cognitive control network.

“All emotional disorders had disruptions more so in the left hemisphere, but for bipolar disorder, we saw disruptions in white matter in both the right and left sides of the brain,” Langenecker said.

Older studies of stroke patients have shown that abnormalities in the right hemisphere are associated with externally-focused symptoms, like mania, while left hemisphere involvement — which the current study found in most emotional disorders — was more often associated with inwardly-focused symptoms, like depression. Langenecker said the bilateral changes his team observed in bipolar disorder may reflect vulnerability to mania and to depression and anxiety.

Alyssa Barba, Miranda Campbell, Melissa Lamar, Stewart Shankman and Dr. Alex Leow, all of UIC, are the remaining co-authors on the paper.

By Sharon Parmet

UIC Earns Award For Diversity and Inclusion


UIC received the 2016 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award by Insight Magazine.

The University of Illinois at Chicago received the 2016 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

As a recipient of the annual HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — UIC will be featured, along with other honorees, in the November issue of the magazine. This is the second year UIC has been named as a HEED Award recipient.

UIC’s status as a public, urban institution makes diversity and inclusion particularly important, says Tyrone Forman, UIC associate chancellor and vice provost for diversity.

“We have a responsibility to make sure that we’re providing access to many different people, of many different backgrounds, and that we’re insuring that they are successful once they enroll here or they begin to work here,” he said.

In this latest honor for UIC, the magazine highlighted the university’s ability to assess the progress of its diversity programs and create metrics to monitor its work to become more inclusive and diverse. The award also cited UIC’s ability to follow up and gauge the on-campus experience.

Forman said beyond just looking at demographic statistics, an ongoing self-examination of the campus’s diversity goals and programs are key.

“One of the ways that you begin to answer those questions is by being attentive to people’s experiences on campus,” he said.

Through its application process, INSIGHT Into Diversity looked at the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both; continued leadership support for diversity; and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion.

“Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity.

UIC, which has been a federally designated minority serving institution since 2010, ranks among the nation’s most diverse research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 29,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center.

One third of the university’s freshman identify as first-generation college students and one-third of freshman indicate that English is not their first language. UIC students report over 50 different first languages. Economic diversity has been important at UIC, where 62 percent of graduates receive financial aid and 49 percent of undergraduates receive Pell Grants.

Among the new programs this year is “Words Matter,” an inclusive language campaign to educate students, staff and faculty about how their words can help foster or deter growth and understanding in a diverse community.

“This award does not mean that we pat ourselves on the back and say our work is done,” said Forman. “It’s important to acknowledge the work we are doing and that it is being recognized nationally for its innovativeness, creativeness and effectiveness.”

Medication Costs Likely to Jump Higher This Year

medicine-money-372x258Prescription medication costs are expected to rise at least 11 percent, and possibly up to 13 percent, in 2016, according to a new report on national trends and projections in prescription drug expenditures.

The report, by a team of experts led by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of
Pharmacy, reviews recent cost changes and future factors likely to influence drug costs in the current year, using the IMS Health National Sales Perspectives (NSP) database.

Contributing to the overall increase, drug spending in clinics will increase 15 percent to 17 percent, while spending in nonfederal hospitals will grow 10 percent to 12 percent, said Glen Schumock, professor and head of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at UIC and lead author of the report.

“These estimates for growth are considerably higher than those we have made in the past but consistent with recent trends and other forecasts,” Schumock said. “We have observed consistent increases in growth over the past three years in hospital settings.”

In 2015, drug prices continued a steep climb that began in 2013 in both clinics and nonfederal hospitals. More than $419 billion was spent on prescription drugs last year, an 11.7 percent increase over the previous year. The increase resulted from higher prices for existing drugs (8.4 percent), spending on new drugs (2.7 percent) and changes in the volume of drugs used (0.5 percent), and was higher than anticipated, Schumock said.

“Individual drugs with the greatest increases in expenditures in 2015 were specialty agents and older generics,” he said. “These agents are likely to continue to influence total spending this year.”

The dual combination hepatitis C drug ledipasvir-sofosbuvir was the top drug, accounting for $14.3 billion in expenditures in 2015. It was followed by the rheumatoid arthritis drug adalimumab ($10.6 billion); insulin glargine for diabetes ($9.2 billion); and etanercept (for autoimmune diseases) and rosuvastatin (a statin used to treat high blood pressure to prevent cardiovascular disease), each at about $6.5 billion.

The increase in the number and use of high-priced specialty medications could cause costs to rise even higher this year, Schumock said. These pharmaceuticals will constitute a significant portion of new medications on the market in the future.

Forty-five new medications for complex, chronic or rare diseases such as metastatic breast cancer, plaque psoriasis, cystic fibrosis and pulmonary arterial hypertension were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2015, and more could be on the way, he said.

In the future, medication costs will also be influenced by an aging patient population, a growing U.S. economy, and greater patient access to healthcare from the Affordable Care Act, Schumock said.

One factor that could inhibit the rising cost of drugs is the introduction of “biosimilars” — biologic products that are nearly identical to an original product that is manufactured by a different company. “Drug spending will be reduced only when there are a sufficient number of these products on the market to create competition and drive down prices,” Schumock said.

The new report is published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. The forecast is “widely anticipated by hospital and health-system pharmacists each year who use it to help project drug spending and develop drug budgets in their own institutions,” Schumock said.

Co-authors include Edward Li of the University of New England; Katie Suda of UIC and the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital; Michelle Wiest of the University of Cincinnati; Jo Ann Stubbings of UIC; Linda Matusiak and Robert Hunkler of IMS Health in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania; and Lee Vermeulen of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

By Sam Hostettler

Two College of Dentistry Faculty Honored

Dr. Philip Patston, Associate Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, and Dr. Keiko Watanabe, Professor, Periodontics, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, were honored with prestigious awards.

Dr. Patston received the College’s 2016 Dr. Jon Daniel Teaching Award, and Dr. Watanabe received this year’s Faculty Research Award.

Dr. Patston received the award from Dean Clark Stanford and a prior Daniel Award winner, Dr. Blase Brown, Clinical Assistant Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences. Dr. Brown also served on the Daniel Award Committee.

The Daniel Award was established in 2010 in memory of longtime UIC College of Dentistry Oral Biology faculty member Dr. Jon Daniel, to honor instructors who have made exemplary contributions to UIC dental students’ learning. Dr. Daniel passed away in 2009.

Dr. Daniels’ qualities cited in the award are the ability to engage students’ interest, curiosity, the ability to motivate students, to challenge them, and to respond to their needs.

A student had nominated Dr. Patston, and commended Dr. Patston for engaging his students on a personal level and challenging them to develop into knowledgeable dentists and life-long learners.

“It is a great honor to receive an award recognizing the commitment to teaching of Dr. Daniel,” Dr. Patston said.

“One of the wonderful things about small group learning is that we get an opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics with our students, allowing for a much deeper discussion than can happen in lectures, so to be nominated by a student was particularly special,” Dr. Patston added.

The College’s Research Advisory Committee under the leadership of Associate Dean for Research Dr. Lyndon Cooper chose Dr. Watanabe as the Faculty Research Award recipient after examining nominations by colleagues.

Dr. Watanabe and her team have identified that periodontitis induces prediabetes and accelerates the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

“We also determined that experimental periodontitis in animals alters metabolism of distant organs including brain, liver, and heart,” she explained. “We are also very excited about new findings that periodontitis results in hyperinsulinemia in vivo and that SerpinE1 may be involved in this process.”

Dr. Watanabe noted that she was “very humbled and honored by receiving this award,” and said it meant a great deal to her “as I do something I love to do in an environment where I can interact with so many wonderful colleagues. The beautiful glass plaque I received is sitting on my kitchen counter where I see it every day and reminds me how fortunate I am.”

As a clinician, researcher, and teacher, Dr. Watanabe said she has dedicated herself “to improving the oral and systemic health of the general population. Throughout my career my clinical interest has been the relationship between periodontitis and underlying systemic diseases. I have been treating patients with various systemic diseases including prediabetes and diabetes, which are perhaps the most prevalent systemic diseases associated with periodontitis. I have been fortunate to have received National Institutes of Health grants and to study the effect of periodontitis on glucose homeostasis.”

Helping Police Respond To People With Mental Illness


Associate Professor Amy Watson

What happens when a police officer is dispatched on a call of disturbing the peace?  What happens when, upon arrival, the officer encounters someone experiencing a mental health crisis? Amy Watson, PhD, is conducting research to explore the options.

Recent media headlines have illustrated the tragic results when these interactions go poorly. What many people do not realize is that social workers, in conjunction with others working in the mental health and criminal justice systems, advocates and other community stakeholders, have developed a model for improving police response to mental health crisis. The Crisis Intervention Team Model (CIT) includes training police to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness and de-escalate crisis situations; local partnerships between law enforcement, mental health service providers and other community stakeholders; and changes to policies and procedures.

Faculty researcher, Associate Professor Amy Watson, has been involved with the Chicago Police Department CIT program since its inception. Through a field placement with the Mental Health Association, Watson made connections that allowed her to contribute to the pilot Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) project in Chicago. Since that time, she has conducted several federally funded studies of the program. Her work with CIT earned her the Young Researcher of the Year Award from NAMI Chicago and in 2013, the Researcher of the Year Award from CIT International.

The goals of the CIT model are to increase safety in police encounters and prevent the unnecessary incarceration of individuals with mental illnesses by diverting them from the criminal justice system to the mental health system. These programs have become increasingly popular, but little research has been performed to determine how and under what conditions CIT interventions are effective for improving linkages to services and the longer-term outcomes for those referred to mental health services. After a first successful study involving four districts of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the current phase of Professor Watson’s research involves police in all 22 districts of the CPD and examines the complex relationships between the availability of mental health services community characteristics and officer training. It concentrates on the short- and long-term outcomes of encounters between persons with serious mental illnesses and police officers. The major variables under study are whether the officer responding to a call and involving an individual with a serious mental illness has had CIT training, the availability of the mental health services, in the area of the encounter, and the outcomes for the person with mental illness as measured at regular intervals over a one-year period following the police encounter.

Watson’s study is expected to determine the immediate and longer term mental health and criminal justice outcomes for persons with serious mental illness and whether, and the degree to which, these depend on CIT-trained officers and availability of nearby mental health services. Findings from the preliminary study indicate that CIT-trained officers tended to use less force as subject resistance increases in mental health interactions. Thus, it appears that CIT trained officers are better able to de-escalate encounters with persons experiencing mental health crises. Watson also found that these officers were more likely to try to link people to services either by providing them transport or assisting them in contacting their mental health provider.

The other variable, the availability of interventions, is still under study. The city has 11 or 12 designated drop-off points for adults and a couple that are designated for youth where police officers bring individuals in need of emergency psychiatric evaluation. These drop off sites are emergency departments that provide assessment and acute stabilization, sometimes followed by admission to an inpatient psychiatric unit.

“What we are finding is a need for additional options for officers to direct people to, such as a crisis triage or mental health respite centers, in addition to more community based mental health services in general,” said Watson.

Cure Violence Rises As Top NGO in 2016 Report

Gary-Slutkin-387x258Cure Violence is ranked 14th in NGO Advisor’s new 2016 report of the Top 500 NGOs in the world, one of the definitive international rankings of non-governmental organizations. Cure Violence has been among the top 20 NGOs ranked by NGO Advisor for three consecutive years and moved up three places from last year.

The ranking and methodology are online at

Cure Violence (, founded in 1995 by Dr. Gary Slutkin, professor of epidemiology in the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and formerly of the World Health Organization, works to reduce violence in communities around the world using disease control and behavior change methods. Cure Violence works to reduce gang and youth violence, as well as cartel, tribal, election and prison violence and is increasingly being consulted on violent extremism. The organization has partners on four continents, including more than 50 communities in 31 cities. The ranking and methodology are online at

Cure Violence has demonstrated effectiveness in stopping lethal violence, particularly shootings. Several external evaluations have shown its approach reduces acts of violence by 40 percent to 50 percent in the first year, and up to 70 percent over a two- to three-year period. Reductions in violence begin almost immediately when implemented in a community.

“We’re very grateful for this ranking and see it as a recognition of both the importance of the work of reducing violence and the impact of the public health approach in addressing the problem,” Slutkin said. “As we are largely a guiding and training organization, we give great credit to our many partners in the U.S. and around the world who are doing such great work in making their communities safer by implementing health methods to treat violence.”

NGO Advisor evaluates and ranks NGOs to showcase the best practices and newest ideas in the nonprofit sector. It presents its findings to an international audience of donors, volunteers, journalists, researchers and diplomats and others.

By Sharon Parmet

Dr. James Bahcall Joins Department of Endodontics at UIC College of Dentistry

With years of experience teaching at three other dental schools, Dr. James Bahcall has joined the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Department of Endodontics as a Clinical Associate Professor.

Dr. Bahcall earned his DMD from the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, a Certificate in Endodontics from the Marquette University School of Dentistry, and an MS from Marquette.

His dental teaching career began at the Northwestern University School of Dentistry in the Department of Endodontics, where Dr. Bahcall eventually became Chair of that department. After Northwestern’s dental school closed Dr. Bahcall moved on to Marquette, where he eventually became Chair of the Department of Surgical Sciences and Director of the Endodontic Division. He later taught at the Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine before joining the UIC College of Dentistry.

At the College, Dr. Bahcall noted, he is “teaching clinical endodontics to undergraduate and postgraduate endodontic students. I also am performing clinical and benchtop research within the field of endodontics.”

He said he hopes “to provide students with current clinical and didactic endodontic techniques and knowledge within a collegial learning environment.”

Dr. Bahcall wrote the book Smile for Life: A Guide to Overcoming Your Fear of the Dentist, and also has contributed chapters to three endodontics books. He has been a thesis director and advisor for more than ten students, and is a reviewer for five journals. He received teaching awards at both Northwestern and Marquette.

“It is an honor and privilege to be a part of the UIC College of Dentistry team,” Dr. Bahcall concluded.

Dr. Afshari Receives AAFP Baker Award

Afshari.2-260x260The American Academy of Fixed Prosthodontics (AAFP) has presented Dr. Fatemeh Afshari, Clinical Associate Professor, Restorative Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, with the 2016 Claude Baker Faculty Award.

The Baker Award recognizes exceptional dental school junior faculty members in predoctoral fixed prosthodontics teaching. The award acknowledges excellence in teaching demonstrated by innovative teaching methods, student awards, and exceptional course material.

Dr. Afshari was nominated by Dr. Stephen Campbell, Head, Restorative Dentistry, and was chosen by an AAFP standing committee.
She attributed her being honored with the award to several reasons.

“Being fortunate to have myriad opportunities to teach multiple aspects of fixed prosthodontics within the school; all the support and encouragement I have received from my mentors and other faculty at UIC to excel at whatever I do; and the inspiration and drive I get from the students to improve myself and my teaching style with every passing semester,” Dr. Afshari said.

Dr. Judy Yuan, Assistant Professor, Restorative Dentistry, received the award in 2012. Dr. Afshari noted that Dr. Yuan “has served as an outstanding mentor and role model to me and other junior faculty at the school. Without her and Dr. Campbell’s support and mentorship, I would not have received this award.”

Redefining Narratives About Young Black Men


Sakeena Everett, PhD, director of research and outreach for the UIC College of Education’s Black Male Early Literacy Impact Project

One phrase at the UIC College of Education  is the axiom “Black children are brilliant.”  Research from the College’s Sakeena Everett, PhD, director of research and outreach for the College’s Black Male Early Literacy Impact Project, is detailing what this brilliance looks like in schooling contexts.

Everett defined traits of Black male success in secondary education settings as part of her doctoral dissertation, which was recently awarded the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Critical Educators for Social Justice Special Interest Group within the American Educational Research Association.

“When we typically think of Black male students, we just don’t assume they are bright,” Everett said.

Everett says research indicates Black males face barriers to achievement through negative profiling and stereotyping, to the extent that their presence is sometimes feared in the classroom.  Her study began in an academic enrichment summer program for rising juniors that focused on understanding Black male success through narrative.  Participants possessed GPAs of 3.0 or better, high ACT scores and eventual full-ride scholarships to college.  Students engaged with critical theories of education to compose narratives describing their experiences in education, essays that in some cases served as college application material.

After the summer program, she built on these writing experiences, working to equip her students with language to defend and define themselves.  Her students read Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” and scholarly journal articles, examining how research reflected—and did not reflect—their experiences as students.

“I wanted them to tap into who they were as raced and gendered beings,” Everett said. “They were able to redefine narratives about young Black men, and they felt really proud of being able to do that.”

Everett tracked these students as they completed their high school education, interviewing students, teachers, administrators, friends and family to gain a nuanced understanding of how the students conceptualized their academic success and what informed and sustained these successes.  She witnessed students’ confidence as writers growing as they progressed through these experiences.

Students in the study represented a broad swath of socioeconomic backgrounds, one from a single-parent home with his mother on public assistance, students from middle class homes and a student from a home in which both parents were educators.  Regardless of socioeconomic status, these students all recognized low expectations society held for them.

These students understood how fragile their position as successful students was because of these expectations.  Everett says they sensed that at any given moment in time, their high grades and scholarships could be taken away at a moment’s notice.  This equipped them with a sense of responsibility to serve as agents of change within their own communities; for example, one student started a writing club in his school, mentoring young Black males who sought careers as journalists and writers.

“I’m particularly proud that this project is very student-centered,” Everett said. “I tried very hard to make sure this project was mutually beneficial, so that students were enriched personally as well as academically.”

By Rob Schroeder

Reframing The Issue of School Segregation

Megan Hopkins

Assistant Professor Megan Hopkins, PhD, UIC College of Education

School segregation was outlawed more than 60 years ago, but any visitor to a Chicago Public School will observe that the vast majority of students are either Black, Latino, or White.

UIC College of Education’s  Megan Hopkins, PhD, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, is seeking to reframe the issue of school integration and equity in her new co-edited book, “School Integration Matters: Research-Based Strategies to Advance Equity.” She and her co-editors, Erica Frankenberg and Liliana Garces, associate professors of education at the Pennsylvania State University, argue that race should be a central consideration in school reform efforts, spanning from preschool to higher education.

“Some teachers say, ‘I don’t see color,’ but without seeing color you aren’t seeing the assets students bring to your classroom and use them to think critically about your curriculum to see if it reflects students’ experiences,” Hopkins said. “We can’t support equitable schooling for students if we don’t explicitly take up race in our discussions.”

Hopkins’ book challenges such colorblindness from the individual classroom all the way to the Supreme Court, where Hopkins says decisions have historically revolved around color-blind ideologies, for instance in its interpretation of affirmative action. She cites court decisions that limit or eliminate the ability of public schools and colleges to take race into account in their student assignment and admissions practices. While schools have turned to socioeconomic status as a proxy, Hopkins says the result is schools are skirting the real issue of structural and institutional racism prevalent in society.

The book also shows that prevailing explorations of school segregation, which focus on populations of Black and White students, need to be updated to reflect the current make up of the US student population. Within-school segregation is also an issue that needs attention, as the book reveals that, even in schools serving Black, Latino, and Asian populations, language programs and culturally-relevant practices can implicitly privilege certain groups of students.

Hopkins’ chapter of the book, which was co-authored with Rebecca Lowenhaupt, assistant professor of educational leadership at Boston College, illustrates how school organizational structures must be considered when supporting within school integration. In examining learning opportunities for immigrant students, and particularly English language learners, Hopkins and Lowenhaupt found that the extent to which language and content was integrated for ELLs varied by the school subject, with English as a second language curriculum embedded in language arts, but largely kept separate in the area of mathematics. Another chapter by the College’s P. Zitlali Morales, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, and Aria Razfar, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, describes how dual language educational programs can be an approach to supporting integration among students and across subject areas, as well as among parents and families.

The book also discusses how schools and policymakers can support integration efforts: the federal government could offer an integration checklist, while higher education institutions could draw on community engaged scholarship and service learning opportunities to bring diverse communities together in the classroom.

“We as an educational community spend a lot of time talking about access and equity, but can we achieve access and equity without integrating our schools and providing opportunities for students to work across racial and ethnic lines?” Hopkins said.

By Rob Schroeder