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Behind The Board: Meet the Members of our Equity Advisory Board

Featuring Rich Milner, Cornelius Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of Education

As we continue our accelerated effort to champion equity of the K-12 Equity Advisory Board, let’s dive into this week's spotlight featuring Rich Milner!

Today’s Highlight: Rich Milner

H. Richard Milner IV (also known as Rich) is Cornelius Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of Education and Professor of Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. His research, teaching, and policy interests concern urban education, teacher education, African American literature, and the social context of education. Professor Milner’s research examines practices and policies that support teacher effectiveness in urban schools.

Professor Milner is President-Elect of the American Educational Research Association, the largest educational research organization in the world. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Education and a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association. Professor Milner’s work has appeared in numerous journals, and he has published seven books. His most recent are: Start where you are but don’t stay there: Understanding diversity, opportunity gaps, and teaching in today’s classrooms (Harvard Education Press, 2010 and 2020, Second Edition), Rac(e)ing to class: Confronting poverty and race in schools and classrooms (Harvard Education Press, 2015) and These kids are out of control: Why we must reimagine classroom management for equity (Corwin Press, 2018). He can be reached at

Can you briefly describe your career path and how you came to be a part of the advisory panel?

I began my career as a high school English teacher before pursuing doctoral studies at The Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, I taught literacy courses in the developmental studies program at Columbus State Community College. I then joined faculty at Vanderbilt University where I worked with current and aspiring educators. My focus has been on studying and advancing mechanisms that support opportunities for minoritized students both inside and outside of classrooms and schools. I also worked to help prepare the next cadre of doctoral students, mostly committed to social justice in education and beyond. I worked with Dr. Lanette Trowery at Vanderbilt, and she invited me onto the board.

What do you hope you accomplish or change while being a part of the advisory panel?

I hope to work in community and collaboration with colleagues committed to building curriculum and related resources and materials that are humanizing, opportunity-centered, culturally relevant, and culturally responsive for young people. Moreover, I hope to support educators as they co-construct practices that allow them to build confidence and commitment to carefully examining their own practices in order to make a positive, transformative difference in their work.

Why do you think equity and social justice is critical to all stakeholders in K-12 education?

I think the present pandemic has amplified what we have known in education a long time: inequity and injustice are pervasive and persistent in education. We need people committed to addressing and centering equity in all facets of the work we do in education. We have a better chance to make a difference when stakeholders across education — policymakers, community members, families, parents, educators, and especially young people — are working together.

What changes and developments do you see in the next few years?

I believe education as we have known it pre-pandemic will never be the same moving forward. In so many ways, I believe important shifts that must be made can actually be beneficial for those communities most underserved in education. We will likely see more attention to mental health and psychological safety moving forward. We will also likely see more districts thinking seriously about how race, racism, history (and “critical race theory”) are taught (or not) in classrooms. We will also likely build tools to produce robust learning opportunities online.

To learn more about Rich:

For more on our approach to equity, inclusion, and diversity, see:




Resources, ideas, and stories for PreK-12 educators. We focus on learning science, educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.

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