Pollock, an anthropologist, is professor of education studies and director of the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) at UC San Diego. Her newest book is "Schooltalk: Rethinking What We Say About –and To – Students Every Day" (The New Press).
Pollock’s work explores educators’ key role in daily efforts for antiracism and equality. She pinpoints the key role of language in educators’ work. Pollock’s work always asks how diverse education communities can come together to support equity – to develop the full human talents of every young person and all groups of young people, every day.
Pollock’s first book, "Colormute: Race Talk Dilemmas in an American School," helped readers navigate six core U.S. struggles over talking (and not talking) in racial terms in schools. "Because of Race: How Americans Debate Harm and Opportunity in Our Schools" (2008) examined the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights as the background for common debates over improving the everyday school experiences of students and families of color. In "Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real about Race in School" (2008), Pollock organized 70 scholars to write short essays supporting teachers to consider everyday issues of race, opportunity and diversity in their work. In 2009-11, Pollock collaborated with educators, families, young people, and programmers in The OneVille Project in Somerville, MA, a participatory design research project piloting new ways that commonplace technology might help people in a diverse education community to communicate and collaborate in young people's success.
Since 2011, with CREATE colleagues, Pollock has worked to spark new equity conversations in San Diego. At CREATE, she helps to network UC San Diego's people, resources, and opportunities to the diverse K-12 educators, students, and families of the San Diego region, with the goal of co-creating new opportunities to learn for both students and teachers. Pollock and CREATE colleagues have most recently spearheaded the CREATE STEM Success Initiative (CSSI), a visionary collective effort linking UC San Diego faculty, staff and students and the San Diego education community in a shared effort to support K-20 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education opportunity in the region. Like all of Pollock’s work, the CSSI explores how diverse communities can come together in student support efforts.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Stanford University: Ph.D., Anthropology of Education 2000
Harvard University: A.B., History and Literature of America 1993
Media Appearances (2)
Professor writes to Boy Scouts: How to think critically about Trump’s speech to your jamboree
The Washington Post
What should the young Scouts make of the speech? Here’s an open letter to the Boy Scouts about how they can think about it from Mica Pollock, a professor of education studies at the University of California at San Diego who is the author of the new book “Schooltalk: Rethinking What We Say About — and To — Students Every Day.”...
The frightening effect of ‘Trump Talk’ on America’s schools
The Washington Post
In this post, Mica Pollock, a professor of education at the University of California at San Diego, looks at the effect that she calls “Trump Talk” has on students, teachers and school climate, and discusses how educators should respond...
Prudence L. Carter, Russell Skiba, Mariella I. Arredondo, Mica Pollock
Racial/ethnic stereotypes are deep rooted in our history; among these, the dangerous Black male stereotype is especially relevant to issues of differential school discipline today. Although integration in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education was intended to counteract stereotype and bias, resegregation has allowed little true integration. Thus, old patterns continue to be reinforced through the ongoing processes of implicit bias, micro-aggression, and colorblindness. Thus, to effectively address inequity, the role of race must be explicitly acknowledged in addressing racial disparities in discipline. We close with a set of recommendations for talking about and acting on racial disparities.
Anne Gregory, James Bell, Mica Pollock
Gregory, Bell, and Pollock offer principles and practices to help schools move beyond punitive discipline and toward conflict prevention and intervention. They argue that eradication of disproportionate punitive disciplinary sanctions begins by engaging and motivating students before the conflict occurs. Their chapter details four guiding prevention principles and practices: culturally relevant and responsive teaching, supportive relationships, academic rigor, and respectful school environments with bias-free classrooms. Additionally, Gregory et al. suggest four equity-oriented principles and practices for conflict intervention: problem-solving approaches to discipline, inquiry into the causes of conflicts, inclusion of the student and family on causes of and solutions to conflicts, and reintegration of students post-conflict.
Mica Pollock, Candice Bocala, Sherry Deckman, Shari Dickstein-Staub
Professional development (PD) “for diversity” aims to prepare teachers to support students from varying backgrounds to succeed, often in under-resourced contexts. Although many teachers invite such inquiry as part of learning to teach, others resist “diversity” inquiry as extra to teaching, saying they cannot “do it all.” In this article, we discuss how preservice teachers at times caricature the requests of PD for diversity, hearing the task as a call to undertake superhuman tasks and to be people other than who they are. We argue that these caricatures require direct acknowledgment by both preservice teachers and teacher educators working in diverse contexts.
In applying Title VI to real school life, the hardest word to handle was " denial. " " Denial " meant opportunities taken away and refused—on purpose, and " because of " the victim's race. As is typical in US race debates, this legal logic (proving intention to harm, on the ground of race) prompted endless rebuttals refuting any child's school experience as constituting discrimination. We fought over proving opportunity denial all day long—internally with colleagues and externally with district employees and the parents who brought complaints. Yet OCR's annual report, and much other research in education, shows that many opportunities to learn and thrive are absent from US schools. Schools are hyper segregated once again by both race and class, with the average Black and Latino student unable to access advanced opportunities to learn concentrated in others' schools. Schools serving black and Latino students just have fewer opportunities to learn than schools serving white students and now, Asian-American students, who disproportionately find well-resourced schools: opportunities like physics or advanced math classes, AP classes, robotics clubs, or teachers with substantial subject area training and pedagogical skill. Fifty years after Title VI, opportunities to learn can be absent, shallow or ineffective. And as I chronicled in Because of Race, many relational experiences inside schools are damaging to children and families of color. Many scholars show how in segregated and desegregated schools, kids of color are over-suspended as early as preschool; for many, school days involve millions of moments of feeling overlooked, misunderstood and undervalued. While many students have an amazing teacher to point to, many report experiences with educators or counselors who rarely communicated belief in their potential to succeed. OCR is one holdout keeping analysis of these real issues on the US agenda, while many dither on about a " post-racial " world. But the effort to prove denial rarely inspires stakeholders to serve children better. Most often, people insisting to OCR that they were good people just flared up in fury and then retreated to corners to grumble. Fifteen years later, I've started to think: if Americans fight endlessly over proving opportunity denial, could they more actively approve opportunity creation?...
In this essay, I propose a design research agenda that braids equity research and technology research in education. More specifically, I propose that researchers join educators, youth, families, and community partners in tackling a central challenge for education research today: figuring out how and when low-cost and commonplace technologies, in combination with face-to-face talk and paper, can support necessary communications between the range of supporters who share students, schools, a district and a diverse community. I call such work improving the communication infrastructure of public education. This Essay discusses this research agenda as forged in the OneVille Project, a participatory design research effort engaging people of all ages in exploring the potential of low cost and commonplace technologies (cell phones, computers, free software) for connecting people in youth support efforts in the diverse community of Somerville, MA. In the OneVille Project, educators, parents, young people, and research partners together designed and tested new communication infrastructure, including new data displays for communicating ready/reliable information about young people to educators, students and families, online portfolios for sparking robust communication about the whole student, student-teacher text messaging for affording rapid/routine communication about students' well-being, and multilingual phone and face-to-face parent networks for enabling far-reaching communications across language and technology barriers. Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: In education, much research suggests that to support young people's talent development, students and the diverse people who share education communities need to communicate information regularly with student support in mind, and to build relationships supporting this communication. But often a support network goes underutilized-like a city at night, with half of the bulbs gone dark. Who in a diverse community needs to communicate what to whom in order to support young people? What barriers prevent such communication? Which channels and habits of communication might enable these necessary communications? Encouraging others to ask such questions in their local school systems is the purpose of this essay.