By Jessica Caballero
As a young girl growing up in Queens, New York, Michelle Moses knew she loved school.
At her inner city school, where many of her classmates came from immigrant families, the focus was not education. As Moses puts it, “the subtle message in my public school classes was that we should all be the same.”
The message was quite different at home. Moses grandmother, her abuelita, came to live with the family from Bolivia so both of Moses’ parents could work. Moses told that, “without realizing it, [she] taught me profound lessons about culture, immigration, and home.”
We sit at a circular table with four chairs in her small office, made huge by the colorful Bolivian flag on the longest wall. Her culture can be seen all around us. Adobe statues and books with beaded bookmarks adorn her shelves.
Today, Michelle Moses serves as the associate dean for graduate studies in the School of Education and as a professor of education foundations, policy and practice at CU Boulder.
“My hope is to help improve the educational system for students of color by providing a new philosophical foundation for race-conscious education policy,” says Moses
This semester, Moses is teaching a seminar on multiculturalism and education, as well as a course on readings in her specialty, educational foundations. She primarily teaches graduate courses, but will soon be offering an undergraduate course as well.
“In college, my choice of courses that had a multicultural focus opened my eyes to a multicultural world,” Moses reflected.
Michele’s greatest passion involves the move for reform in early educational access for low-income families, underprivileged groups, and overall equality in educational opportunity.
Moses believes that K-12 funding structures, on a state-by-state basis, need to be reformed to be not so aimed at teaching for tests.
Here, Michele talks about her mission to improve access to education.
When we look how race interacts with class and how it can be used as a theoretical lens for understanding inequities in school. Let’s look at this: how students, how low-income students — who, in this case, are often students of color and new immigrants — how they can be better prepared and then, be able to graduate high school and go on to college.
I really feel like we can give all kids a shot to achieve in childhood education. I think universal school and full-day kindergarten for all kids — not just wealthy kids — crucial. I mean that’s crucial, because all the research, you know, basically shows that giving kids that early start, and that foundation, makes such a difference for them moving forward.