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Editorial Introduction

15 Years of Lessons Learned: Center X, 1995-2009

Our center is called Center X to capture both the intersection of research and practice as well as our roots as an activist community. First conceived in 1992 as a result of the upheaval and self-examination stemming from Los Angeles’ Rodney King verdict uprisings, Center X strives to challenge the status quo that perpetuates inequity and poor educational practice. As a community, we are working to enact our ideals—“making the rhetoric real,” as the center’s founder Jeannie Oakes framed our effort in 1996. We believe that transformative work must tackle head on the deep social inequalities manifest in schools as gaps in educational opportunities and achievement. We do not believe that these gaps or inequities will be solved by schools alone, yet we remain committed to public schooling as one of the best democratic spaces in which to build a better, more just society. 

In 1995, our first cohort of social justice educators entered Center X’s Teacher Education Program. Since then, our center has grown into a community of more than 200 educators working across 10 programs:  two graduate credential programs and eight professional development initiatives. Together, we work to transform public schooling to create a more just, equitable, and humane society. We believe that this work is an enduring feature of our democracy and that it occurs within and across multiple communities—of teachers, students, parents, community members, elected officials, researchers and others engaged in democratic life. Together, these communities transform public schooling by asking questions and solving problems, fueled by passionate resolve and persistent effort. 

In this inaugural issue of the Center XChange, we share highlights of our work and the lessons we have learned over the past 15 years. In our XPress feature, you will find essays, research articles, and reports on the Center’s work that are intended for a broad audience of educators and policymakers. These products range from a case study of teacher educators grappling with issues of race and racism to a synthesis of research on teacher retention and career development to evaluations of our partnership work with the Los Angeles Unified School District. XPress also includes writing on the Center’s work as a whole, including Oakes’ "Making the Rhetoric Real,” a newsletter that showcased Center X’s first decade of work, and feature articles in UCLA Magazine and Rethinking Schools

In the Student Commons, you will find the work of our graduate students. In this first issue, we have included two exemplary Master’s Inquiry Projects by teacher education students as well as several dissertations by doctoral students. This student work analyzes a diverse set of issues including scripted reading curricula, the importance of engaging parents as educational partners, and how White teachers learn about racism and diversity in meaningful ways. 

The Teacher Workroom provides a space to share articles, lesson plans, and other resources that will be of particular interest to classroom teachers. In this issue, we include essays by coaches who work with teachers to improve literacy in urban schools. We also include resources from the UCLA Mathematics Project, lesson plans from the History-Geography Project and the Teacher Education Program, and materials from the Science Project’s NanoScience Institute. 

To highlight the many books produced by and used within Center X, we have developed a feature called On My Shelf.  Each issue, we invite one member of our community to review significant books on their shelf. In this first issue, veteran Center Xer, Rae Jeane Williams, reviews books by Jeannie Oakes, Carol Jago, Megan Franke, and Jane Hancock and shares how she has used these resources in her own work as a teacher educator. 

We welcome your feedback on any of these features and articles. As we develop the Center XChange over time, we hope to include special features that will promote exchange across the global community of educators working to change the world. 

Karen Hunter Quartz and Jody Priselac
Guest Editors, Volume 1, Issue 1

Spring 2009

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