Principal Investigators

Professor John Rogers is a professor in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and the Director of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA). He also serves as the faculty co-director of UCLA’s Principal Leadership Institute. Rogers’ research examines whether educational opportunities are distributed equitably and what schools teach about equality. He also studies public engagement and community organizing as strategies for equity-focused school reform and democratic renewal. He draws extensively on the work of John Dewey to explore the meaning of, and possibilities for, democratic education today. John Rogers is the co-author (with Jeannie Oakes) of Learning Power: Organizing for Education and Justice (2006) and co-editor (with Marion Orr) of Public Engagement for Public Education: Joining Forces to Revitalize Democracy and Equalize Schools (2010). Professor Rogers received his PhD in Education from Stanford University and his BA in Public Policy and African American Studies from Princeton University.

Professor Joel Westheimer is University Research Chair in Democracy and Education at the University of Ottawa, Canada, and education columnist for CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning and Ontario Today shows. He began his career in education as a summer camp director and then middle school teacher in the New York City Public School system, before obtaining a PhD from Stanford University. He co-founded and served as executive director for seven years of Democratic Dialogue, a group of researchers dedicated to the critical exploration of democratic ideals in education and society. Westheimer’s newest (2015) critically acclaimed book is What Kind of Citizen? Educating Our Children for the Common Good. Other award-winning books include Pledging Allegiance: The Politics of Patriotism in America’s Schools (foreword by Howard Zinn) and Among Schoolteachers: Community, Autonomy, and Ideology in Teachers’ Work. He has published more than 50 scholarly and professional articles and book chapters and addresses radio and television audiences on shows such as Good Morning America, More to Life, The Agenda, NBC TV News, C-Span, NPR, and CBC. He is recipient of the Canadian Education Association’s Whitworth Award, Knight Fellow for Civic Engagement in Higher Education, and a Laureate of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP). Westheimer grew up in New York City and has also lived in San Francisco, Princeton (New Jersey), Argentina, and Israel. Before moving to Ottawa, he taught at Stanford University and at New York University. He enjoys performing in community theatre and plays guitar with a group of professors in a band called The Pedagogues. Westheimer has two children and a dog named Farley. His wife is also a professor – in the English department at Carleton University in Ottawa. In Winter, both he and his wife ice-skate to and from work. Farley stays home. You can follow him on Twitter @joelwestheimer.


UCLA Research Assistants

Anthony A. Berryman taught English and Philosophy in Compton, California for seven years after graduating from the New School for Social Research. His principal interests are urban schools, the political economy of education, and facilitating critical civic engagement for teachers and urban youth. Currently a PhD student in Urban Schooling at UCLA, he is a proud son of the Central Valley of California.


Michael Ishimoto is currently a PhD student at the University of California, Los Angeles in the division of Social Science and Comparative Education. He specializes in critical race studies, Asian American studies, postcolonial theory, and critical pedagogy. Before attending UCLA, Michael worked with Frontline Solutions, a management consulting firm that focuses on males of color, education, and social entrepreneurship. Some of his clients included the Philadelphia School District, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Michael holds a Master of Science in Higher Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Mary Candace Raygoza earned a BA in Sociology, with a minor in Education, at UC Berkeley, followed by an MEd and mathematics teaching credential from UCLA’s Teacher Education Program. Mary Candace taught high school mathematics as a founding teacher of a public, pilot high school in East Los Angeles, which has led to her research interests of social justice education and critical pedagogy, specifically in mathematics. She is currently a PhD student in Urban Schooling at UCLA and is involved in community organizations including the Council of Youth Research and the Schools LA Students Deserve campaign.


University of Ottawa Research Assistants

Anton Birioukov attended Ryerson University, majoring in History, with a minor in Sociology. Upon completing his Bachelor’s degree he earned a Master’s of Education degree and a Graduate Diploma in Urban Education at York University where he investigated causes of student absenteeism in an inner city secondary school. He is currently attending the University of Ottawa’s PhD program in Education in the concentration of Society, Culture and Literacies. His current research focuses on how inner city schools approach attendance issues when working with an economically disadvantaged demographic.

Matt Brillinger has a PhD (English) from the University of Auckland, where he wrote a dissertation on Vladimir Nabokov’s use of humour. He also has degrees from the University of Ottawa (Education), San Francisco State University (History), and UC Santa Cruz (Anthropology). He is currently enrolled in the Faculty of Education’s PhD program at the University of Ottawa, researching desegregation in Berkeley, California.


Agata Soroko is a PhD student in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa, researching Canadian and U.S. high school teachers’ practices around financial literacy education. In the last decade, Agata has worked in a variety of educational settings with diverse populations of students at the K-12 and post-secondary levels, including students with special needs, English language learners, and international students. Before starting graduate school, Agata lived in Nanjing, China, where she taught at an overseas Ontario high school. Agata received both her BA and BEd degrees from the University of Toronto.



Project Alumni


Tizoc Brenes was born in Los Angeles, grew up in Mexico, and attended high school in San Diego. As an undergraduate student at Columbia University, he studied anthropology, literary theory, postcolonialism, and Latin American literature. After college, he worked as a math and science teacher in East Los Angeles. In 2011, he co-founded a nonprofit leadership program in the City of Norwalk, named Field of Dreams Learning, Inc. For the last two years, he has served as an Assistant Principal at YouthBuild Charter School of California. Last year, he earned an MEd and Preliminary Administrative Services Credential at the UCLA Principal Leadership Institute. In the Fall of 2015, he began his studies in the PhD program in Urban Schooling.

Alan W. Goff is a facilitator of social justice and diversity education, specializing in the design and facilitation of intergroup dialogue. He works primarily with youth, educators, and community leaders in the education and nonprofit sectors.Alan was born and grew up in Los Angeles, of Belizean Kriol heritage. He attended school in Watts-Willowbrook, completed undergraduate studies at UC Santa Barbara, and earned an MEd in Social Justice Education at UMass Amherst. He is currently a PhD student in Urban Schooling at UCLA, with a primary research interest in intergroup relations and coalition work for social change in schools and communities.

September – December 2015

Vanesa Sainz Lopez is a Ph.D. student at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, researching teacher and student understandings of social justice and the promotion of social justice through education. She has a four-year doctoral scholarship from the Spanish Ministry of Education in the National Program to Promote Talent and Employability. She has a degree in Psychology from Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. Vanesa earned a master’s in secondary teacher training from the Autonomous University of Madrid in 2011, where she now teaches social and emotional development for Studies in Education.


Kristin Reimer is in her final year of PhD studies in Education at the University of Ottawa, researching restorative approaches in Scottish and Canadian schools. Kristin teaches a course to teacher candidates that introduces restorative philosophy as an approach for creating safe and supportive learning environments. Kristin’s research interests involve: restorative justice, building community, holistic education, social justice and ethics of care.

Megan Beretta studies Political Science and Communication at the University of Ottawa. Her passion for civic education emerged from early experiences with alternative education programs, and an internship with CIVIX in 2012. From 2013-2014, Megan undertook the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program at uOttawa, with The Inequality Project team, studying non-governmental education programs about economic inequality available for teachers. Megan has studied abroad at Sciences Po Paris (Campus Euro-Americain de Reims), participates in uOttawa’s Co-op program, and is a dedicated public servant. She will graduate in 2017, and hopes to pursue graduate studies in public policy, and continue promoting civic education.