My commitment to educational and social justice began when I realized that being good at school did not protect me, my family nor my community from the effects of social inequality. Growing up as a child of working class, Nicaraguan & Nicaraguan-Chinese immigrants in a low-income community in Southern California, I faced challenges, but still I excelled in the classroom. It only became clear as I was transitioning to college that our community’s schools were under-resourced, and that we as students were seen as culturally deficient. As a result we were miseducated and navigating life from a disadvantaged position. These educational conditions and experiences are products of structural problems in schools and society. As a parent-educator-activist-scholar I have dedicated my work and life in the academy, in communities, and in political struggle to addressing these problems.
As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Studies and the Program in Latin American and Latino Studies my engaged scholarship is primarily an application of cultural political economic perspectives to questions concerning urbanism, urban educational policy, Latinx education, ethnic studies, digital social science, and teaching for social justice. My work across these areas is bounded by a commitment to engaging in participatory and collaborative research alongside economically and racially oppressed communities. These communities are central holders of knowledge and our collective liberation depends on working together in critiquing and resisting policies that exacerbate human despair, and imagining and actualizing transformative, radical, possibilities.
As founder and co-researcher of the Education in our Barrios Project (#BarrioEdProj) in Philadelphia and New York City, a college and high school-aged, participatory action research (YPAR) collaborative, my goal is to work with and for urban, Latinx core communities. The first #BarrioEdProj study, Education in our Barrios @BarrioEdProj, was my dissertation project , which was a participatory historical ethnography that examined urban change within the Latinx core community of East Harlem (El Barrio) and education during the mayoralty of Michael Bloomberg (2002-2013). My primary argument was that during this period, dominant processes of urban formation and education policy formation drew from a shared logic that I described as racial neoliberal urbanism.
Currently the research collaborative is designing a Youth Voces (Voices) survey of Latinx youth in Philadelphia that we hope will provide research and analyses that can be used to advocate for more just social conditions for Latinx communities. The project has also lead to the creation of #EthnicStudiesPHL, a curricular database and educator group that advocates for ethnic studies in K-12 and higher education settings.
My other major project is the Philadelphia Community, School and College Partnership (CSCP) Study where my students and I are examining various approaches and visions of community and school partnerships in the Philadelphia school district.
My research has been supported by CUNY-GC Enhanced Chancellor's Fellowship, the CUNY-GC Dissertation MAGNET Fellowship, a CUNY-GC Provost's Digital Initiatives grant, and a Tri-College (TriCo) Digital Humanities grant.
I initiated the Critical Education Policy Studies (#CritEdPol) group, which is a space geared toward encouraging a critical policy studies approach, where we look historically and contemporaneously at educational and social problems and policy formations. Recently we published the first issue of #CritEdPol, an open source, online, journal of critical education policy studies for undergraduates and education advocates.
I have written articles, book chapters, and given talks on school closures, community schools, teacher education, race radical leadership, and digital, critical participatory action research (D+CPAR). I am co-editor (w/Bree Picower) of the volume What's Race got to do with it?: How Current School Reform Policy Maintains Racial and Economic Inequality from Peter Lang. We are currently working on a second edition of the book.
In addition to working as an elementary teacher in the NYS public school system, as a doctoral student I had many teaching experiences including being a part-time faculty member at Hunter College and New York University, where I taught courses on social studies pedagogy, math pedagogy, bilingual education and multicultural education. I also taught as an Instructional Technology Fellow at CUNY's Macaulay Honors College (Lehman College) and a Writing Fellow at Hostos Community College.
Ph.D., Graduate Center, City University of New York
M.A., Teachers College, Columbia University
B.A., University of California, San Diego
Aggarwal, U., Mayorga, E., & Nevel, D. (2012). Slow violence and neoliberal education reform: Reflections on a school closure. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 18(2), 156–164. doi:10.1037/a0028099
EDUC 014: Pedagogy and Power: Introduction to Education
EDUC 041: A Site of Struggle: Education Policy
EDUC 043: Teacher Narratives, Power, and Policy
EDUC 048: From the Undercommons: Ethnic Studies and Education
EDUC 068: Urban Education
EDUC 161: Urban Politics, Policy & Education (Honors Seminar)
Student Teaching Supervision